Black cats have long been associated with a turn of bad luck. Since the 1500s in the United States, their association with witches who purportedly practiced dark magic meant they were burned at the stake with their owners and were almost driven to extinction. Since then, a black cat crossing one’s path is considered to be an ill omen. Despite being an exception to the rule, Germans believe that it is only when a cat crosses your path from right to left rather than left to right that bad luck will pass your way.
On the whole however, this is a relatively recent phenomenon with countries such as Japan and those in Great Britain associating them with good luck. The Japanese believe that a single woman who owns a black cat will have many suitors for marriage. The English believe that giving a black cat as a present to a bride often turns out to be lucky. These traditions go as far back as Ancient Egypt where cats were godlike creatures owing to their likeness to the fertility goddess Bast. Cats were often found to be mummified and mourned for by their owners and those believed to have killing one were worthy of capital punishment.