Cats are often thought as harbingers of doom. Suffice to say, that is most likely based on the ideas of people who simply don’t “get” cats, let alone have the privilege of knowing one. And knowing a cat is, indeed, a privilege. While there are folks who continue to believe that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, it is far more interesting to see how, especially in the guise of the New Year, what good fortune cats are believed to bring. So, here we go.
In ANCIENT ROME, cats were sacred to the moon goddess, Diana, as well as being considered guardians of the home and hearth.
There are two accountings of cats in MUSLIM LORE. One version states that a cat saved Mohammad from snake attack and the “M” marking on the foreheads of tabby cats is a mark of the prophet. The second shares that Mohammad had a tabby cat named Muezza who was his favorite and because of the relationship the prohibited any killing and/or persecution of the beloved animal.
Freyja, from NORSE LEGEND, had a cat drawing her chariot. As the goddess of fertility, her association with cats made them thought to be a blessing on a newborn.
Meanwhile, over in ANCIENT EGYPT, cats were absolutely sacred, often seen in renderings of Bastet, the lunar goddess. Cats were also mummified, along with mice to eat, in her honor.
Up in YORKSHIRE, in Britain, a black cat kept by the household would not only bring good luck, but ensure that the resident fisherman would return safely from the sea.
The SCOTS believe that a black cat sitting on the front stoop will bring prosperity to the inhabitants.
PIRATES that have a black cat walk away from them means good luck.
A cat sneezing in ITALY means good luck for anyone hearing it and, even better, if it your own cat your hear sneeze, it means money is coming your direction. A bride hearing a cat sneeze on her wedding day means the marriage will be successful and prosperous.
Speaking of weddings, in the ENGLISH MIDLANDS, giving a black cat as a wedding present to the bride is thought to bring much good luck.
Cats are both magical and harbingers of good luck and fortune in INDIA. So much so, that if someone kills a cat, they must make penance with a priest, offering a cat of gold.
There are a couple of CHINESE PROVERBS about cats. One says owning a cat will assure good luck. The other says simply, “Black cat or white cat: If it can catch mice, it’s a good cat.”
Cats can help an AMISH COUPLE conceive. If placed in an empty cradle and the cat stays, they will soon be welcoming a little one. If it jumps out, there may be a bit of a wait in store.
AMERICA also has several beliefs. If one dreams of a white cat, that is good luck, and if one sees a one-eyed cat when out and about, the sighter need only spit on his or her thumb, plant it in the middle of the palm of the hand, then make a wish. It will come true.
And just in case anyone ever wondered, the JAPANESE are huge fans of cats, the Maneki Neko (Fortune Cat) found in many businesses and homes. At first glance the symbolic kitty may appear to be the same, but there is great significance in subtle things, such as which paw is raised. A right paw welcomes good fortune and money, left paw attracts customers, and both paws, while a combination of the attributes of both paws, also means protection. The color of the cat, although usually seen as white with black and orange spots, brings with it different meanings. The traditional calico is considered the luckiest, with white representing happiness, purity, and best of all, the coming of positive things. Gold stands for wealth and prosperity, black deters evil spirits, green is for good health, and red brings success in love and relationships. Often the cat is holding items in their paws that also have significance. Given all the symbolism, it is easy to see why this is one lucky kitty to have around.