Black cats have been the subject of much fear and superstition for centuries. Depending on the part of the world you lived in, and the time in history in which you lived, they could be associated with evil, demons, illness, prosperity, luck....even a storm at sea. Superstitions about these cats still remain, and unfortunately they sometimes become the objects of fear.
The color black was ( and still is, to an extent) associated with mystery, darkness and evil. Cats that were totally or mainly black were therefore often associated with witches. As a result, many a poor woman was burnt at the stake or drowned in the local river in the Middle Ages in Britain, and her pet cat was often burned or drowned along with her.
Some people believed these cats were demons, or a form of the devil, in disguise, so the woman who owned the cat must therefore be a witch. Others believed that the cats aided witches in performing black magic. Some thought they were actually witches in disguise, and even believed they could fly on a broom.
In addition to the witch association, the black cat is the subject of many more curious beliefs, which are sometimes completely different depending which part of the world you're in.
In ancient times, Druids believed these cats were humans, reincarnated as cats as a punishment for evil deeds they'd committed in a past life. In the Middle Ages, in Germany, it was believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person, then the person would die. In Finland, they were believed to carry the souls of the dead to the
afterlife. In 18th and 19th century England, fishermen's wives kept these cats because they believed this helped to keep their husbands safe at sea. If one ran in front of a sailor as he walk up a pier, this would bring him good luck. However, if it crossed his path, it meant bad luck. At this time, cats were carried on ships to keep rats and mice at bay. If a black cat was thrown, or accidentally fell overboard, this was believed to bring bad luck in the form of a terrible storm. Interestingly, in England, Scotland and Australia today, a black cat crossing your path is supposed to be lucky. But if you live in Ireland, most of the rest of Europe, India or America it's meant to be bad luck!