Witch Craft and Myths

Two months ago I was at my shelter when a man came and asked me if he could adopt a cat. Adoptions make me very happy so I took him to the cat division and was showing him the different cats we had when the head of the division came, took me aside and told me that this same man had adopted two cats before and had given a false name and address (we check up on our adoptions to see if the animals are being kept properly) and had also told our sweeper that he would pay him money if he threw cats over the wall to him. On “ investigation” (I won’t confess what I did !) the man said that he got the cats pregnant and then aborted the foetuses and ate the placenta as he had been told it would bring him good luck. He was promptly arrested by the police under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code.

More than any other animal, the cat features in the mythology of every country and religion. It goes from being goddess to a witch’s familiar. With its huge jewel-like eyes, the cat seems the most mysterious being. Being able to see in the dark, it roams at night, (time that is known as the "witching hour"), and no matter how much affection it shows it remains its own master. The Norse Goddess of love and fertility, Freya, travelled in a chariot pulled by two black cats. In Hinduism, cats are a symbol of fertility. The Egyptians were the first to keep and use cats to hunt fish and birds as well as to destroy rodents. Cats were considered so valuable that Egypt imposed the death penalty for killing cats. Cats were believed to be a manifestation of Bast the goddess of protection, fertility, the moon. clip_image001clip_image001[1]clip_image001[2]In Celtic mythology cats were guardians of the gates to the “Otherworld” and the spiritual link between humans and the universe.

In Japan, the Menki Neko or “Beckoning Cat” is revered for bring good fortune. According to Buddhism, the body of the cat is the temporary resting place of the soul of very spiritual people.


How many predictions revolve round a cat’s behaviour? Here are some:

A cat sleeping with its paws tucked under its body foretells of rain.

A cat sneezing once indicates rain; a cat sneezing three times indicates that the humans of the household will catch a cold.

A cat washing its face on the front doorstep foretells a visit from a member of the clergy. (American)

Finding a white hair on a black cat foretells good luck.

A cat placed into the empty cradle of a newlywed couple will lead to conception- providing that the cat doesn’t jump right back out. (Amish tradition)

Owning a black cat is very lucky, but seeing another’s black cat is unlucky. (Yorkshire)

Seeing a black cat by moonlight foretells of an impending epidemic for the entire locality. (Ireland)

Rubbing the tail of a cat over one’s eyes cures a sty. (American)

If a cat washes its face in front of a gathering of people, the first person that it looks at afterwards will be the first to marry. (American)

If you wilfully kill a cat, you will forfeit your soul to the devil. (British)

Carrying a cat over a stream is bad luck. (France)


If you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb before pressing it into the middle of your opposite palm while making a wish.


When a cat sits with her tail toward the fire or licks herself above the ears, bad weather is on the way. If a cat licks its tail, rain is forecast.


When a cat washes its foot and then passes the foot over the left ear, a stranger is coming.


If you kick a cat, you will have bad luck.


A cat at a wedding will bring good luck.


If a cat jumps on a dead man’s coffin, he will not get into paradise. (Australia)


Viewing a male and female cat fighting is very inauspicious. It is a sure omen of quarrel in the house and of imminent infamy to the viewer.

If a cat washes its face and paws in the parlour, company's coming. (German)


If a cat continually looks out a window, rain is on the way.


Dream of a tortoise shell cat and you will be lucky in love.


Dream of a ginger cat and you will be lucky in money and business.


Dream of a black and white cat and you'll have luck with children.


Dream of a tabby cat (striped or dotted) and you will have luck with your home.


Dream of a multi-coloured cat and you will have luck making friends.


Dreaming of being badly scratched by a cat foretells sickness and trouble. (Italian)


Black cats could find buried treasure: find an intersection where 5 roads connect, then turn the cat loose and follow him. (France)


Tortoiseshell cats can pass on the gift of seeing the future to a child in the household.


If you kick a cat, you will develop rheumatism in that leg.


If you are a farmer and kill a cat, you can expect your cattle to die mysteriously.


If you drown a cat, you will fall victim to a drowning.


It is bad luck to see a white cat at night.


If a cat sits on a grave, the buried person's soul was in the devil's power. (Christian)


If two cats are seen fighting near a dying person, or on the grave shortly after a funeral, the creatures are the Devil and an Angel fighting for possession of the soul.


If a black cat lies on the bed of a sick man, he will die. However, a cat will not remain in the house where someone is about to die - if the family cat refused to stay indoors, this is a bad omen. (Italy)


If a funeral procession encounters a black cat, another member of the family will soon die.


When moving to a new home, put the cat in through the window, not the door, so that it will not leave.


In India, the Vastu books say:

Grey cats are lucky.


If a black cat enters the house , it’s a lucky sign.


While setting out on a journey if a cat is seen on the left side it is a good omen.


If a cat gives birth to kittens it means wealth for the head of the house . Evil forces do not reside in such a house.


If a cat follows a person coming out of a house, it brings wealth to the family.


The death of a cat in the house is a bad omen.


If a cat washes only one of her ears three times it means a guest is expected.


If a cat calls repeatedly when someone is going out of the house it indicates a loss for that person to happen shortly.


To see three black cats together is extremely lucky.


A cat climbing or scratching furniture means rain.


A cat that runs away from home means disaster.


If a cat falls on a sleeping person, it is an inauspicious sign.

If a cat sniffs at any person's feet, it is ominous.

If a cat licks the forehead of a woman, her husband may die.

If a cat licks the foot of a woman, her father-in-law may die.


If a person is entering a village or city or a house and sees a cat coming out of it on his right, it is inauspicious.

If a person embarking upon a journey sees a cat meowing it is auspicious.

If a cat delivers her child inside any house, it means prosperity within three months.


Maneka Gandhi


Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

*Proper wildlife rehabilitation is an extremely biologically and ecologically responsible attitude toward all living things.*