Cats and Witches: The Magical History of Black Cats

Black cat sitting on the lap

Some say Halloween is the time of year when cats and witches really work their magic! Have you ever wondered how they're so deeply connected?

Halloween just wouldn't be quite as spook-tacular without costumed cats and witches. But what is it about those mischievous felines that makes them the perfect companions for broomstick-riding witches?

Magical Roots

Black cats and witches are an iconic Halloween pair, thanks to their long history dating back to ancient times. Long before trick-or-treaters and buckets full of candy, cats were often depicted as the supernatural companions of witches. For example, in Norse mythology, as Encyclopedia Brittanica explains, the goddess Freyja rode a chariot pulled by magical cats. Freyja was in charge of death and the afterlife and known for practicing witchcraft.

Witches and cats were also famously entwined in the European witch trials of the Middle Ages and those in Salem, Massachusetts. Heretics suspected of witchcraft were often identified by the fact that they owned a cat — or other animal — that was believed to do the witch's bidding. Some even believed that cats were actually witches in disguise.

Why Cats?

Why is it that witches were supposedly fond of cats and not cows or rabbits? The truth is that witches were believed to have "familiars," or animal companions, of all kinds. Cats and dogs were the most common familiars, but many small animals, including toads or mice, were also used by those practicing witchcraft. Cats were more often associated with evil than other animals because of their nocturnal and independent nature.

Luckily for fans of Halloween and pop culture, cats have continued to maintain their number one place alongside costumed witches. A cat, after all, makes a much cuter Halloween costume than a toad.

Trick or Treat?

Worried that your kitty will be up to tricks on Halloween night? Thanks to their historical connection with witches, cats — particularly black cats — have earned the unfortunate rap of bringing bad luck. But the truth is, there are hundreds of different superstitions, good and bad, associated with cats.

In fact, in some cultures, meeting a black cat can be a sign of good fortune. Despite any superstitions you may have, your cat may actually have more treats in store for you than tricks this Halloween.


Show your kitty some love by giving some treats in return, like a new Halloween-themed toy or her favorite treat. Maybe you could show your cat how much you admire her by dressing up to look like her.

Safety First

The best way to treat your cat on Halloween is by keeping her safe. Keep skittish kitties away from the busy front door and be sure all the candy is out of reach. If you're taking her trick-or-treating on a leash or in a cat stroller, be sure she's already quite comfortable with this.

Whether you believe in magic or not, the long history of cat lore proves that cats have always been considered truly remarkable creatures. Halloween is the perfect holiday to celebrate your special kitty.