Its eyes being variable, the cat symbolizes the varying power of the sun and the waxing and waning of the moon and the splendour of the night; it also denotes stealth; desire; liberty.

As black it is lunar, evil and death; it is only in modern times that a black cat has been taken to signify good luck.

Amerindian: The wild cat portrays stealth.

Celtic: Chthonic powers; funerary.

Chinese: A yin animal as nocturnal; powers of evil; powers of transformation. A strange cat is unfavourable change; a black cat, misfortune, illness.

Christian: Satan; darkness; lust; laziness.

Egyptian: Lunar, sacred to Set as darkness; as lunar the cat can also be an attribute of Isis and of Bast, the moon; it represents pregnant women as the moon makes the seed grow in the womb.

Graeco-Roman: Attribute of the lunar Diana. The goddess of liberty has a cat at her feet.

Japanese: Powers of transformation; peaceful repose.

Scandanavian: Attribute of Freyja, whose chariot is drawn by cats.

Witchcraft: A familiar and disguise of witches; the black cat as the witches’ familiar is evil and ill luck. Cats and dogs as witches’ familiars are rain-makers.

[Source: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols by J.C. Cooper]