Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 03 December |
Saint of the Day: St. Francis Xavier
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How cats became symbols of evil

BLACK CAT

KT Photography | CC

Philip Kosloski - published on 08/28/17

And how their victimization may have led to the plague.

Unlike dogs, cats were consistently seen as symbols of evil throughout Europe of the Middle Ages. This seems to have arisen at least in part because of cats’ apparent laziness.

Often in religious art, cats represented lust and could be seen in depictions of the Fall of Adam and Eve. This was then extended to cats being a symbol of Satan. Black cats were especially viewed by medieval Christians as representations of the demonic. The association of black cats with witchcraft only compounded this symbolism.


DOGS,CHRISTIAN,ART

Read more:
The surprising symbolism of dogs in Christian art

Unfortunately this was taken to the extreme and cats became targeted creatures in Europe. Their presence was unwanted because of the religious associations, and they were frequently killed on account of it. They were almost driven to local extinction.

As a result, rat populations increased throughout Europe with cats nowhere to be seen. Cats weren’t keeping the population of rats down and the plague, spread by the rats, claimed thousands of lives across Europe.

It was eventually discovered that rats were the problem and laws against cats were repealed as their presence was suddenly desired.

However, even though cats became a welcome addition to the household, black cats still retained their association with evil — which continues to today. They are a permanent fixture of the annual celebration of Halloween and superstitions regarding black cats continue to be passed on to the next generations.




Read more:
The surprisingly Catholic origins of Halloween

Tags:
ArtHalloween
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Andrea Bocelli
J-P Mauro
Andrea Bocelli to perform live Christmas conc...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
FATHER JOHN FIELDS
John Burger
Priest who volunteered for COVID-19 vaccine t...
John Paul II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's guide to a fruitful Advent
ADVENT
Philip Kosloski
Prayer to be watchful during Advent
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.