If a black cat crosses your path up ahead and you trip and fall on your face, can you blame the cat? Black cats have a rep for being bad luck, but maybe it's time we debunk that myth once and for all.

I grew up with black cats in our country home in rural Nebraska, and even though my sister and I cuddled with these cats regularly and dressed them up in people clothes and pushed them around in baby strollers, my mom was always quick to warn us that we shouldn't let these babies officially cross our paths or we'd have bad luck.  If a black cat came at us perpendicularly and crossed in front of us, forget about it.  A bad day was coming.

Silly, right?  Poor black cats can't help the color of their fur, and yet they've got people running from them just because we all get a little jumpy sometimes.  Where did the superstition that black cats bring bad luck come from anyway?

1.  Greek mythology.  In one story, Zeus's wife Hera transformed a servant into a black cat as punishment for interfering with her plan to delay the birth of Heracles, according to Petmd. Then that servant became an attendant of Hecate, the goddess of magic, witchcraft, and death.

2.  History.  Petmd said during the Middle Ages, black cats became associated with the devil, witches, witchcraft, and evil, and some people thought black cats helped witches with their projects.  I'm sure you've even seen cartoon pictures of witches with a black cat following behind or hanging out near the cauldron.  The images that link black cats to witches have been there for a long time.

Does this dark past mean that black cats today are going to make us unlucky?  Yeah, no.  One veterinarian puts it this way, "A black cat bringing someone bad luck is just as likely as a four-leaf clover bringing good luck.  Your luck is as you create it."  There you go, your hunch is confirmed.

Other superstitions associated with black cats:

-- Finding a white hair on a black cat is good luck.

-- Seeing a strange black cat on a porch will bring prosperity to the owner.

-- If a black cat walks toward you it brings good fortune.  If it walks away, it takes the luck with it.

So, may a black cat with a white hair totally cross your path this Halloween!  That, along with a frozen Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and a costume that has no holes, rips, or missing buttons would make for a really lucky day.

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