Why do witches have cats?
Witches and cats have always gone hand in hand. For years, cats have been regarded as mysterious creatures with supernatural powers, so it is not unusual that they be linked to an equally mysterious subject such as witchcraft. In fact, in the high days of witchcraft, the very act of owning a cat was considered a crime!
It was a common conception that cats acted as witches’ familiar. A familiar is a spirit that looks after the witch and helps her in everyday chores (magic obviously). The cats were good vessels for familiars, and since they had nine lives, the witch could live through them in 9 different times too. This belief was further fueled when reports of cat attacking babies at night started surfacing. While these reports might be lacking in truth, the cat soon became infamous. It is interesting to note that this belief about cats is not just a European notion. In ancient civilizations, especially in Egypt, the cat was considered an aid to magicians, and was respected rather than defamed.
Cats were also considered helpful in spell casting as they were good sacrifices. In other folklore, cats are considered and depicted Satan’s pet or even the embodiment of Satan on earth. European Middle Ages are filled with art involving such subject matter. On St. Johns eve in France, cats were burned on bonfire. This practice went well into the 19th century, and is but just one example of cat persecution.
Today, the hype of witchcraft has ebbed and so has cat persecution. But whenever the subject is depicted in art or movies, the involvement of a cat is considered necessary. Whenever a black cat crosses their way, people tend to think how unlucky they would be today!
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