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In medieval European superstition, it was thought that one way to identify if someone was a witch was if they owned a cat. This cat was believed to be some form of demon or evil spirit in disguise, acting as the witch's Familiar and aiding her in her spells. These days witches and cats don't have such bad reputations, but their association with each other persists. If a show has a witch, there is an extremely good chance that witch has a cat. Sometimes simply owning a cat is used as a hint or foreshadowing that a woman living alone might have a secret magical nature.
And doesn't that make purrfect sense? Everyone knows that Cats Are Magic, not to mention the best, so of course any witch worth her broomstick would be owned by one, if not a whole clowder of cats. In fact it's not uncommon for a witch to have a such a soft spot for her feline friends that she doubles as a Crazy Cat Lady, owning a dozen or more. Such witches are usually considered quirky and tend to be of the good variety, the same if a witch owns cats with coat colors outside the stereotypical black. The cat is the most common Familiar for a witch by far, though sometimes the association is so strong that it's not that the witch owns a cat, but she is a cat!
The association is most concrete between female witches and cats, though occasionally if a work allows male witches, or warlocks and wizards are simply male witches, the association will spill over. In European folklore, black cats have been considered to be familiars of witches since the Middle Ages, so this trope is Older Than Print.
Anime And Manga
- In the first episode of Soul Eater, what Maka and Soul thought was a witch, turned out to actually be a cat that had a human form and magic and merely dressed like a witch.
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Miss Price and Cosmic Creepers. As seen here.
- Bell, Book and Candle: Gillian Holroyd and Pyewacket.
- In Kiki's Delivery Service, all witches have a cat as a guide and mentor. Kiki's personal cat is the usual black variety.
- Inverted in Hocus Pocus. The witch sisters transform one of the protagonists, Binx, into a black cat For the Evulz. By the time of the main narrative, he's their sworn enemy.
- In Harry Potter a cat is one of the animals which wizarding students can bring as a pet to Hogwarts. In this case the cats are merely pets, not familiars. In book three, Hermione gets a very perceptive (part-Kneazle) cat named Crookshanks. A witch and teacher, Professor McGonagall, can turn into a cat. Umbridge has a Cats Are Mean motif whenever she's not being compared to a toad, but doesn't actually own one. Instead, she has a cat Patronus and a collection of rather tacky cutlery with enchanted pictures of cats on them.
- There's also Mrs Figg, a Crazy Cat Lady who lived near the Dursleys who turned out to be a Squib.
- In Enchanted Forest Chronicles Morwen, a famous witch, owns a large number of cats of many different colors as her familiars. Other witches think she's strange for numerous reasons, but one of those is that she owns a dozen cats, none of them black.
Deep in the Enchanted Forest, in a neat grey house with a wide porch and a red roof, lived the witch Morwen and her nine cats. The cats were named Murgatroyd, Fiddlesticks, Miss Eliza Tudor, Scorn, Jasmine, Trouble, Jasper Darlington Higgins IV, Chaos, and Aunt Ophelia, and not one of them looked like a witch's cat. They were tabby, grey, white, tortoiseshell, ginger, seal brown, and every other cat color in the world than a proper and "witchy" black.
- In Dark Lord of Derkholm, Querida, the most powerful witch on the continent, owns three cats.
- A Discoveryof Witches features a precognitive cat named Tabitha, who is owned by the main character's witchy aunts.
- Discworld has Nanny Ogg and her tomcat Greebo, and, later, Granny Weatherwax's kitten, You.
- In the novel Operation Chaos by Poul Anderson, the witch Virginia "Ginny" Matuchek has a cat named Svartalf as a familiar.
- In the Arcia Chronicles, Gerika keeps pet lynxes before and after she gains powers, but switches to ordinary cats when she pretends to be a swamp witch while healing Alexander in book five (which is lampshaded). She can also possess her cats and use them as conduits for her power (which probably explains it).
- In The Hollows Rachel lives with a cat, though the cat doesn't seem to like her very much.
- House of Night may also count if you think the vampires in that series are more like witches.
- In The Worst Witch all witches receive a black cat. Except the loser protagonist, who gets a striped cat that can't balance on a broom (she then settles for carrying it in a bag).
- In the short story The Incredible Elopment of Lord Peter Wimsey, Wimsey poses as a wizard in a remote and backwards village. Nine white cats form part of his disguise.
- In The Wheel of Time series, it is noted that female channelers known as Aes Sedai tend to attract cats. They're not familiars or magical in any way (although some promote the myth to increase their air of mystery), it's just one of those odd things that happens. Once male channelers start showing up, the same thing happens with dogs.
- Blackmalkin and Greymalkin in The Midnight Folk by John Masefield. Nibbins also used to be a familiar, but is now a household cat who sides with Kay.
- Most witches mentioned by name in Septimus Heap own cats.
- In Time Cat, one of the adventures the boy goes on with the time-traveling cat leads to the boy and the cat being accused of witchcraft. The accusers may have had a point, because again, it's a time-traveling cat.
- Dorrie the Witch has a cat named Gink.
Live Action TV
- In Charmed the main characters are three witch sisters, and they inherited a cat along with their powers.
- The cat later becomes human as a reward for being such a successful familiar.
- In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina owns a black cat named Salem, who used to be a warlock.
- Witches Tara and Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer get Miss Kitty Fantastico, but she rarely shows up.
Myth And Legend
- Subverted with Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft. Her sacred animal was, among other things, black dogs.
- Both played straight with one sisterhood of witches and handily subverted with all other sisterhoods in The Dark Eye. Most witches do have some type of Familiar though.
- One of the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth has a cat named Graymalkin.
- In some versions one of the witches is called Graymalkin, instead.
- A line in the "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" from Lloyd-Webber's Cats goes "Can you ride on a broomstick, to places far distant?" referring to cats being associated with witches.
- Bomamba in Ni GHTS: Journey of Dreams has a whole swarm of black cats. They're the source of her magic power.
- The sorcerologist Tessa from Red Earth owns four cats, two of whom (Al and Ivan) actually aid her in battle from time to time. The catch is that Tessa owns several other pets, such as a bird (Hato), a frog (Kaeru), and a dragon spirit which doubles as her cape (Manot).
- Elyzia Grimes of the Whateley Universe is a powerful witch and a member of Whateley Academy's Magical Arts Department. She even looks like a witch, since she's described as looking uncomfortably like what Morticia Addams would look like in real life. Her familiar is a solid black cat named Merlin. (Not all familiars in this world are cats: Foxfire has a fox kit for a familiar.)
- Likewise, Gateway's friend Rythax may not be technically her familiar for all that he was the first creature she ever managed to summon, but he's definitely a cat. Of the occasionally-giant-winged-black-panther variety.
- In one Tom and Jerry short, Tom answers an ad to be a companion for what turns out to be a witch.
- One episode of Beetlejuice dealt with a neighborhood witch taking Lydia's black cat, forcing Lydia and Beetlejuice to crash a witchs' Halloween party to retrieve the animal.
- Sabrina the Animated Series. Like the live action series, the younger Sabrina and her family own a wise-talking black cat who was once a powerful wizard. In the spin-off, "Sabrina's Secret Life", Sabrina's Alpha Bitch witch rival, Cassandra, owns a white rabbit who may also have once been human.