A real witch has a black cat. There is a persistent myth surrounding four-legged friends: they supposedly have seven lives. But where does this superstition come from?

The night of April 30th to May 1st is magical. It’s Walpurgis Night, when the witches are up to mischief. In this article we answer the question of why cats have so many lives. The animal is considered to accompany witches and stood for evil. People supposedly have to be particularly careful about black cats.

Medieval people were afraid of cats and tried to get rid of them using cruel methods. To get rid of the “devil creatures,” they threw them off church towers, for example, but many cats survived. Therefore, it was clear to people in the Middle Ages that they had to be demons who had more than just one life.

How this resulted in seven lives can probably be explained by the fact that the number seven had a special meaning in the Christian Catholic Church at that time. There, for example, the number symbolized the seven deadly sins, the seven sacraments and the seven virtues. According to the Bible, God also only needed seven days to create our world. The number also appears in many fairy tales, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or the Wolf and the Seven Kids.

In England, the fluffy four-legged friends are not satisfied with just seven lives. According to the saying, cats have nine lives. The reasons why the little tigers have more than just one life are probably the same as in German-speaking countries.

The nine, on the other hand, is probably derived from Celtic mythology. At that time they populated what is now Great Britain. In his search for wisdom and knowledge, their main god Odin made a self-sacrifice that lasted nine days and nine nights. It is also possible that symbols of the church contributed to the mysterious nine, for example hell consists of nine circles. However, whether these theories are 100 percent correct remains a secret.

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This article was written by Holly Hey

The original for this article “That’s why cats have 7 lives” comes from World of Wonders.