How Black Cats Went From Bad Luck to Symbols of Defiance by Billy Anania from Hyperallergic

The superstition associating black cats with bad luck is rooted in the European fear of darkness. In Celtic mythology, the Cat Sìth stole the so uls of the recently deceased. During the Middle Ages, Devil-fearing Christians killed black cats because of their perceived proximity to the underworld. This fear even carried over to the Salem Witch Trials, when ownership of a black cat could be cited in charges of witchcraft. While pop culture still preserves this troubled legacy, underground artists have revived an alternative tradition that dates back thousands of years.

The pantheon of Ancient Egypt included Bastet, the goddess of domesticity and fertility who took the form of a black cat. Generations of Egyptian artists portrayed Bastet differently as her mythos evolved, to the point that crimes against cats were punishable by death. Some representations of black cats have been more in this vein, against the Western taboo that they are ominous or sinister. Feline disobedience works against the Western notion that nature serves humanity, and therefore disrupts a sense of order. The Industrial Workers of the World use a black cat (“Sab-Kitty” or “Sabo-Tabby”) as their icon for sabotage. Similarly, the Black Panthers named their party after an animal that only attacks when provoked.