The Mystique of
Enchanting and mystifying, black cats
are no strangers to human superstitions.
During the Middle Ages, black cats
were believed to be associates of
witches and the Devil.
Continuing into American Puritan
times, it was thought that black cats
were shape-shifted witches.
In Scotland, a witch in the form of a
black cat, the Cat Sith, was said to steal
the souls of corpses. To keep the Cat
Sith away, a “Late Wake” was held over
the deceased before burial.
It’s said that the witch could only
change into the cat eight times before
permanently remaining a cat — perhaps
the origin of cats having nine lives.
However, in Japan, black cats are
often considered good luck. Black
“maneki-neko” or lucky cat figurines
are said to chase away evil spirits,
and black cats are said to bring single
women potential husbands.
In Central England, black cats are
considered a blessing to a marriage and
are often given as gifts.
And in North Yorkshire, a sailor’s
wife might keep a black cat as a charm
to keep her husband safe at sea.
Louise Hung is a Texan-Los
Angeleno writer currently living
in Yokohama, Japan. You may
remember her from such publications as Catster.com, xoJane,
Food Riot, or Dogster.com.
Louise lives under the mostly benevolent rule
of her senior cat, Brandy.
Could your senior cat be a Bakeneko? According to
Japanese legend, when a cat gets very old he may slowly
transform into a shapeshifting ghost cat or Bakeneko. The
Bakeneko not only brings bad luck or death to his owner
but can also impersonate them, speak as if human, and
re-animate the dead to use as puppets.
One story tells of a shopkeeper whose towels kept
disappearing. Hearing loud music one night, he came upon
his transformed cat wearing one of his stolen towels on his
head, dancing wildly on his hind legs in the moonlight.
The site of this Bakeneko’s antics is said to be at Odoriba (“dancing place”) train
station in Yokohama.
Keep cats indoors, preferably
in a “quiet room” away from
trick or treaters and loud noises.
Keep all candy and human
treats out of kitty’s reach (This
Be sure your cat wears a collar with ID and is microchipped
— just in case he gets out.
Don’t let curious kitties
reach any lit candles (or use safe
battery operated ones!).
Be extra careful with black
cats; violence toward them goes
up around Halloween.