Where does the bad reputation of black cats come from?

Legendary sidekicks of the “witches“Wrongly accused of bringing bad luck, black cats still have a bad reputation today. he, the most often abandoned… So, when does this superstition go back to?

The black cat, incarnation of the devil for the Catholic Church

They don’t have a worse character than the others. The personality of cats is neither determined nor influenced by the color of the coat. And yet, the myth which weighs on the black cat is such, that one devoted a French expression to him. “Being a black cat” means in the French language a person who “worries bad luck”. All of Europe is overflowing with myths around the one who is considered willingly, and wrongly, as an evil being. In Japan too, the “legend of the vampire cat” tells that the young woman promised to the son of the emperor would have had her throat cut by a big black cat while she slept. So where do these nonsense come from that obviously have a hard life?

It is Pope Gregory IX who would be at the origin of their bad reputation in 1233, relates Slate. The latter issued the Vox in Ramaa papal bull intended to Henry III in June 1233. It is then the first official ecclesiastical text affirming the existence of secret evil ceremonies organized by heretics… with the complicity of the Devil. And who is accused of taking part in these orgies of men and animals? A certain black cat of course, large in size, venerated by the followers of Evil… No need to have read the Vox in Rama of Gregory IX to know it, the position of the Church on cats transmitted through sermons on Sundays and conversations, is enough for the belief to be massively assimilated. The arrival of Christian heresies and other pagan rites also seems to coincide perfectly with a demonization of felines.

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Acolytes of “witches”, victims of sacrifices

Thus, if from the Middle Agescats suffer from a bad image in the popular imagination, “this belief will increase with witchcraft between the 14th and 17th centuries. Europeans are convinced that witches go to the Sabbath carried by cats. And let the demon appear on the sabbath in the form of a cat, tells animal historian Éric Baratay about France Inter. It is true that the “witches” who were generally nothing but elderly women living in isolation, appreciated the company of these animals, especially to kill rodents! But their reputation is made, and not only in France. “In Europe there is the idea that on the eve of Saint John (June 24), cats disappear from the cities to follow the witches. With them, they foment great plans to fight against humans with various malevolences.”, he continues.

Unfortunately for them, no plan to fight against humans will allow them to escape the mistreatment and sacrifices of which they have been victims. During the witch hunt, it happens that they are burned with their mistress, when they are not both thrown into a river, to ward off bad luck. On Saint John, black cats locked in a bag are thrown at the stake. Some are even walled in to protect a dwelling from the devil, as at the Château de Combourg, where Chateaubriand lived. In his Memories from beyond the grave, the writer says that when he was a child, his father forced him to sleep in the “Tower of the cat”. An area of ​​the castle known to be haunted by two ghosts… The wooden leg of Count Malo-Auguste de Coëtquen, “who walked alone with a black cat”. Disturbing anecdote: following the death of the author, the mummified body of a cat dating from the 16th century was unearthed during work on a wall of the tower.

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The myth of the black cat maintained in pop culture

From now on, these beliefs seem to us to say the least eccentric and particularly cruel, but it must be recognized that the association “black cat” and “witch”, is a myth which has been (and which continues to be), largely maintained in literature, as in pop culture. Of MA beloved witch (and her black cat Mrou) at sabrina (and the famous Salem), many witches who are after all sympathetic, take black cats as companions in television series. In the cinema too, we could see Professor McGonagall transform into a cat in Harry Potter. To Halloween also, the black cat is generally part of the disastrous decoration.

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Where does the bad reputation of black cats come from?

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