The Reason People Think Black Cats Are Bad Luck

According to Chicago sports lore, the curse accused of keeping the Cubs from winning the World Series for 108 years began with a goat. As's Cut 4 recounts, in 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis attempted to attend Game 4 of the World Series with his pet goat, which had its own ticket. Though the owner didn't get the boot, his ungulate buddy got the hoof, prompting a furious Sianis to curse the Cubs to everlasting championship failure. Two decades into their World Series dry spell, the Cubs saw a glimmer of hope, which got utterly smothered by a black cat.

Sports Illustrated relates that in 1969, Chicago held a dwindling lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. When the teams competed on September 9, the Cubs brought batboy Jim Flood as a good luck charm. But if superstition is to be believed, Flood's luck got drowned out by the sable-furred feline that mysteriously appeared and approached Chicago's dugout. Clearly realizing the curse would prevail, third baseman Ron Santo allegedly unleashed a curse of his own. Flood recalled, "I heard Santo go, 'Oh man, we're f*cked now.'" The Cubs were screwed harder than Babe Ruth at a brothel. The Mets won the pennant and then the World Series while the Cubs met disappointment for decades. It's easy to blame the cat for bringing bad luck. But why? How did this superstition arise?

How black cats became scapegoats

Superstitious disdain toward black cats emerged from Christianity's efforts to vilify paganism, according to How Stuff Works. Felines held an exalted position in ancient societies. In ancient Egypt, for instance, killing a cat was tantamount to signing your own death warrant. The Ancient History Encyclopedia adds that people in ancient India revered cats and even worshipped a feline goddess named Sastht. Ancient China had a goddess, Li Shou, who assumed feline form, and old-timey Romans valued cats as companions, hunters, and symbols of independence. Those glory days faded to black in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Christians resolved to put pagan furballs in their place, namely hell. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX issued the infamous Vox in Romana, which according to History Collection declared, "Thou shalt not suffer a cat to live." The Vox depicted witches as Satan worshipers and the Lord of Darkness as "a shadowy half cat and half man figure." Gregory's decree spurred a violent purging of cats, and black cats suffered the brunt.

After centuries of bad PR and hellish persecution, black cats remain bigger scapegoats than the actual goat behind the Chicago Cubs' curse. In 2019, Reuters reported that a "black cat curse" ruined a New York Giants lead over the Dallas Cowboys. People are even hesitant to adopt black cats from shelters, making them more likely to be euthanized. It sounds like mankind is bad luck for black cats.