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"When he couldn't find any witches to burn, the king widened the definition to any ugly woman who owned a cat. When he couldn't even find any of those, he made the women of the village hold a beauty contest. First prize was a night with the king, last prize was a cat."
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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 and the once perhaps dubious stereotype has become Truth in Television as those into modern Witchcraft favor cats due to the old claims. 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!

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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.

Compare Right-Hand Cat, Cats Are Magic and Familiar. Sometimes the cat in question is a Panthera Awesome.


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Examples:

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     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. The actual witches however, have their own Animal Motifs, none of which have been cats.
    • Soul Eater Not! offhandedly reveals there's been a witch with a cat motif in plain sight all along, and we didn't notice the latter point because it's a domestic cat - the personality feedback from which being one of the things which scares her into repressing her powers as much as possible. (Apparently she'd be a lot more like Blair if she let herself slide into full witchness, and she's not really inclined that way.)
  • The Sailor Soldiers, a Magical Girl Warrior group, from Sailor Moon, have three guardian cats Artemis (white), Luna (black - though sometimes appears dark blue) and their daughter Diana (grey). This is most likely a spill over from the fact that MGW trope descended from the Cute Witch.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, cats are one of the most common animals used as Familiars by mages in the setting, with wolves being the only other animal we've seen used. Specific examples include Rynith and the Lieze Twins.
  • Honerva/Haggar of GoLion and Voltron has a blue cat, Jaga, whom she uses in various evil schemes.
  • The eponymous Sakura of Cardcaptor Sakura has instead what appears to be a small yellow lion cub (or teddy bear, depending on whom you ask) with wings, that she calls "Kero-chan." It turns out that "Kero-chan"'s real name is Cerberus, and he's really a full-sized, armored lion with wings. Similarly, Eriol has what looks like a small, winged black kitten, but is really a panther with blue butterfly wings. Both of these animals are Sun Guardians.
  • Kiki's cat Jiji in Kiki's Delivery Service. Only she can talk to him and apparently every witch has one. Her inability to understand him is one of the sign that she lost her magick.
  • In Flying Witch witch sisters Makoto and Akane own very intelligent cat familiars, Chito and Kenny. Chito is able to cover for her mistress's tendency to get lost, while Kenny is something of an anthropologist. However, it's not a universal trait: Inukai has a hamster familiar who is very frightened of Chito when they're introduced to each other.

     Comic Books 
  • Male example: Klarion the Witch Boy in DC Comics and his cat Teekl, who has the ability to take a humanoid form.
  • Agatha Harkness, governess to Franklin Richards and magical tutor to the Scarlet Witch, has a black cat called Ebony that can transform into a black panther.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina owns a black cat named Salem. The live-action TV show portrayed him as a talking cat, who used to be a criminal warlock, and was turned into a cat as part of his sentence after being caught.
  • In Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, Rowen's familiar Pooka is a black goblin-cat.
  • In Hex Wives, Danali is almost always accompanied by her fat white cat. In #4, one of the Architects refers to her as possessing some kind of 'cat magic'. In the same issue, when Becky starts flying after her magical abilities activate, the Architects miss it, because a large number of cats swarm all of the cameras, blocking their view.

    Film 
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Miss Price and Cosmic Creepers. As seen here.
    • Furthermore, Miss Price doesn't believe in giving names to animals, but calls her cat Cosmic Creepers "because that's the name he came with." One presumes she got a black cat because witches are expected to have one. That said, she never shows cruelty or resentment to the animal, and makes sure he's fed (but not on houseguests that she's turned into rabbits, of course!).
  • In Bell, Book and Candle, Hot Witch Gillain Holroyd has Pyewacket, a Siamese cat that she uses as her Familiar. When she gives up her powers at the end, Pyewacket runs away.
  • In Kiki's Delivery Service, all witches have a cat as a guide and mentor. Kiki's personal cat is the usual black variety.
  • In the film Double Double Toil And Trouble, aunt Agatha is an evil witch that owns a cat.
  • Inverted in Hocus Pocus. The witch sisters transform one of the heroes, Binx, into a black cat For the Evulz. By the time of the main narrative, he's their sworn enemy.
  • Also inverted in Coraline where the witch like antagonist actively dislikes cats especially the local black stray who due to the Cats Are Magic trope being in play can come and go as he pleases between our world and hers which she see as subverting her power.
  • The Uncanny: In "Quebec province, 1975", Lucy turns out to be a young witch in the making, and her cat Wellington is implicitly her familiar. As her mean cousin Angela will soon learn, attempt to deprive a witch of her cat is a very bad idea.
  • During Elaine's monologue about reincarnation in The Love Witch, she claims that she would like to be reincarnated as a cat, having felt depressed when her own cat died.

    Literature 
  • 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.
    • The caretaker Argus Filch has a rather intelligent cat, Mrs. Norris, who patrols Hogwarts looking for troublemakers with her master.
  • 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 Discovery of 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. Magrat, on the other hand, is mentioned in Wyrd Sisters as not liking cats much.
  • 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. She can also possess her cats and use them as conduits for her power.
  • In The Hollows Rachel lives with a cat, though the cat doesn't seem to like her very much.
  • Played With in The House of Night: vampyres are basically a Witch Species, as they cast spells and even practice a pseudo-Wiccan religion, and apparently have a great affinity for cats. (Cats even used to be killed in the old days, under the belief that they turned people into vampyres.) Neferet has one named Skylar, who rejects her when her Heel–Face Turn is revealed.
  • 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 Elopement 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. Also, a channeler tends to drive away the animal of the other gender (men repulse cats, women repulse 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 Little Witch has a cat named Gink.
  • Gobbolino The Witches Cat centres around this trope, obviously enough. The eponymous Gobbolino has no interest in being a witch's familiar, and would prefer the life of a humble house cat.
  • Cas' mother in Anna Dressed in Blood has a cat named Tybalt.
  • Eleanor Estes' 1960 novel The Witch Family has real, right, regular witches — Old Witch, six-year-old Hannah and six-month-old Beebee, who dress in black, ride broomsticks and have cats. Beebee has a tiny kitten who clings upside down to his mistress' broomstick. Fans of Harry will like the scenes where Hannah goes to witch school.
  • In Rosemary's Baby, Mrs. Sabatini is the only coven member mentioned as having a cat. There is a Persian cat breeder in the building but he's not involved with the coven.
  • In Tituba Of Salem Village by Ann Petrie, Tituba is suspected for a number of reasons, including her skill at spinning and her male calico cat. This kind of cat is called a money cat and is usually regarded as attracting good luck, similar to Maneki Neko. She has to drive him away when the serious hysteria starts.
  • The Lord of the Rings has an offhand reference to "the cats of Queen Berúthiel." The Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth expands on the story: Berúthiel was a Black Númenorean who married the king of Gondor, probably for political reasons, and used her cats to spy on everyone in the kingdom. Eventually, her husband separated from her and sent her and the cats away by ship. Interestingly, Word of God describes her as the sort of person who hates cats but finds that they follow her around anyway; she tortured some but trained a few for her purposes.
    "She had nine black cats and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things 'that men wish most to keep hidden,' setting the white cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass."
  • The titular characters of the Meg and Mog series of children's books are a classic witch and her black and white-striped cat.
  • In Witch-Cat by Joan Carris, cats from the Order of Greymalkins act as witches' teachers, showing them how to use their magic responsibly. In the case of the protagonist Rosetta, her initial job is just trying to show twentieth-century witch Gwen that magic exists in the first place, but all of her attempts keep getting hand waved away with practical explanations.
  • The Witches of Worm has Worm, who Jessica believes to be a witch's familiar.
  • Averted in the Dutch children's book series Foeksia de miniheks (Foeksia the little witch). In one story Foeksia wants to adopt a stray cat she found, but can't since her father is allergic to cats and quickly reminds her that only evil witches own cats.
  • In the children's story Room On The Broom (as well as the (cartoon adaptation) the ginger-haired witch has a ginger-haired cat. She picks up a few other animal friends over the course of the story.

     Live Action TV  

  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina has Salem Saberhagen, a warlock punished for trying to take over the world with a sentence of one hundred years as a black cat. Technically, he belongs to Aunt Hilda, one of his followers, who was punished with having to take care of him.
  • In Charmed, the main characters are three witch sisters, and they inherited a cat, Kit, along with their powers. Eventually she was only being shown in stock footage, then disappeared; a later episode has her come back as a human, revealing that she was actually a familiar and did it so well that she's now been assigned to train more familiars for other witches.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Tara get Miss Kitty Fantastico. Willow first thought that they were invoking this trope, but Tara admits that she just likes cats. Miss Kitty Fantastico only appears a few times before apparently succumbing to a crossbow accident.
  • A few witch/warlock characters in Bewitched have cat familiars, which can assume human form (usually attractive and female). One episode indicates that transformed familiars automatically revert to their feline forms at midnight, but this isn't touched upon in other episodes.
  • Subverted: In Switch2012 Stella puts her boss's cat in the microwave.
  • Supernatural: Some witches have familiars, though at least one of them is a dog rather than a cat and the familiars have a human form.
  • In episode "En la casa de la bruja" (In the house of the witch) of El Chavo del ocho, Chavo, Chilindrina and Kiko enter Doña Clotilde's house and see the typical Haunted House with her as a crone in a cauldron. In that episode her pet Satanás (Satan in Spanish) is a white cat. Of course at the end is All Just a Dream.
    • Subverted in all other episodes as Doña Clotilde's pet Satanás is always a dog. Of course, Doña Clotilde herself is not a real witch (unless you count her spiritualist activities).
  • Adalind in Grimm is a Hexenbiest and has a pet cat, which comes handy when she wants to curse Juliette, as she's a vet.
  • The witch in Simon And The Witch has a cat called George, known for eating wooden items such as furniture when the witch forgets to feed him. In the first series he runs away from home and goes on a spree of destruction of wooden items across the country. Averted with the witch's sister Tombola, who lives somewhere in Africa, thinks cats are old-fashioned and instead has a gorilla called Banana and several snakes.

     Myth And Legend  

  • Averted (and depending on how you define it, inverted) with Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft. Her sacred animal was, among other things, black dogs.
  • Averted in African mythology, where witches rode dogs, or in some cases, hyenas.
  • Played straight with Norse Mythology: Freyja is the goddess of seidr, a form of magic considered exclusively feminine, and her cart is drawn by two cats. Since Norse religion was often considered tantamount to witchcraft by medieval Christians, this makes Freyja the indirect TropeMaker.

     Puppetry 
  • In South African puppet-based childrens' TV show Die Liewe Heksie, Livinia the witch has two. There is Mattewis, the kitten/cat whose function is to be a timid little kittie who miouws a lot and is the indespensible companion to a working witch. Then there is Karel Kat, her sophisticated friend, a sort of Non-Human Sidekick, who is essentially an anthropomorphic cat who dresses smartly, drives a smart car, and flies a helicopter. Karel and Mattewis are never really seen interacting.

     Radio 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Halloween Party", Mr. Boynton observes that the two figures most associated with Halloween are witches and black cats. Miss Brooks is offended when Mr. Boynton, Stretch Snodgrass and Walter Denton all think that she'd be perfect dressed as a witch for the party. Miss Brooks eventually gives in . . . .
    Miss Brooks: Connie Brooks rides tonight!

     Tabletop Games 

  • 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.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, Player Characters who can cast Arcane Spells (like Wizards) can summon familiars, and cats are one of the of the available choices. (Not the only choice, however, and in some editions, the caster had no control over what animal he got.)
    • Pathfinder Extends this with a catfolk race, who can take levels in Witch. Witch is also the only class to have to have a familiar (ignoring a few scattered archetypes), even if it doesn't have to be a cat (witches renew their magic spells by communing with their familiar, and other classes either don't get the ability by default or can choose to bind themselves to an item instead).

    Theater 

  • 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.
  • In the original play of Bell Book And Candle (and the film adaptation mentioned above), Gillian Holroyd's familiar is a cat named Pyewacket,note  though at least one other witch has a non-feline familiar.

     Video Games  

  • Bomamba in NiGHTS: 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).
  • The twin witches of Brain Dead 13 each have a black cat in their room, which is very obvious.
  • The Student Witch enemy in the Castlevania series will turn into a cat and run away when defeated. In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, absorbing her soul even lets you throw a cat of your own.
    • The full-grown Witch enemies in the same games often also has a cat that rides on her broomstick. She also turns into a cat, still wearing her hat, with her own cat now riding on her hindquarters as a kitten.
  • Invoked with Anna of Granblue Fantasy. While she has indeed the appearance and abilities of a witch, her stuffed toy resembles that of a cat.
  • In The Sims 3, witches (which can be male) get bonuses from having a familiar nearby. Nearly any small animal can be a familiar, but the only major animals that can be familiars are cats, not dogs or horses.
  • In The Witch's House, a black cat guides the protagonist and helps her escape. Though it is revealed in the third ending to be the Big Bad in a sense, as it is currently possessed by the demon who gave the witch her powers in the first place.
  • In Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Espella Cantabella owns a black cat named Eve, adding weight to the claims that she is a witch, specifically the Great Witch Bezella.
  • In World of Warcraft, players can purchase a Feline Familiar during Hallow's End events in October. The Feline Familiar wears its own witch hat, has green glowing eyes, and rides a broomstick whenever the player mounts up.
  • Natsume, the resident fortune-teller and most prominent magician of Ensemble Stars!, has two pet cats.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, Wizards and Sorcerers can choose to have a cat as Familiar. Though in this case, it's more a Panthera Awesome, complementing the master's magical powers with brute force.
  • The Witch subclass in Dungeon Fighter Online picks up Shadow Cat Pluto among her elemental familiars, and all members of the base Female Mage class produce an image of Pluto for one core attack. (Among the lore fallen by the wayside in one game revamp or another is that making the familiar pact was a part of the questline to becoming a Witch, and that the base Mage spell actually conjures a momentary knockoff of Pluto out of the caster's mana.)

     Webcomics 
  • Rose and Roxy Lalonde of Homestuck both love cats and are wizard Fangirls.
  • Subverted in Wilde Life—Of the three witches we've met so far, two don't seem to have any pets, while Barbara Yaga has two dogs (whom she occasionally transforms into human children).

     Web Original  

  • Whateley Universe
    • Elyzia Grimes 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. Fortunately, she has a sense of humor about the whole thing. (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.
    • On the other hand, Josie Gilman's 'familiar', Schrodinger, only looks like a black cat much of the time - he is actually Shoggoth who somehow bonded with Josie.

     Western Animation  

  • DuckTales (1987): The witch in "Home Sweet Homer' has a black cat.
  • 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.
  • In one episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the Ghostbusters discovered a cat familiar that had been separated from its witch. Before they could find its owner, Slimer started to unintentionally make good use of its powers, causing them a LOT of trouble.
  • 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. Here, however, he can be more anthropomorphic and actually has some magic powers himself, though they're far weaker than he had as a human. 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. This is inverted in the Filmation series. As in the comics, Salem is an orange marmalade.
  • Averted in The Smurfs, the two witches Chlorhydris and Hogatha have birds; a toucan and a vulture respectively. Played straight with the warlock Gargamel and his cat Azrael. Also averted with Gargamel's mother, a witch that actually hates cats.
  • Episode "Halloweek!" of Eek! The Cat shows an incredibly Hot Witch with a pet Jamaican cat.
  • Headmistress Crone in Gravedale High has an undead green cat named Clawford. Crone is never shown using magic but her name and looks imply that she is a witch-monster creature.

     Real Life 

  • Practitioners of Wicca and other forms of Neo-Paganism do seem to favor cats above all other pets. Of course, this trope might be partially responsible—if you grow up associating witches with cats due to media, then when you become a witch, it might seem only natural to get a cat yourself. Or perhaps the kind of people who are more likely to find Wicca an attractive choice for a religion are also the kind of people who are more likely to find a cat a more attractive choice for a pet.
  • Also with Islam, where Cats are considered THE favored pet of the faith and routinely welcomed into mosques where they are petted and cherished. They are most certainly not regarded as witchy at all, with a story by Abu Hurairah (father of kittens) claiming that a woman mistreating a cat was a sign of her coming time in hell. Cats do have some "magical" qualities in the faith due to being favored by Muhammadnote  — but these are holy attributes. Cats are revered in Islam due to their hygiene and like in Judaism and Christianity, dogs are seen as unclean. In the pre-Islamic era, the Middle East was already fond of cats as the species had a long presence in the region (having been domesticated there) and served as pest control.
  • Also with the ancient Egyptians. Cats were viewed as sacred animals and considered the physical embodiments of goddess Bastet. Cats were admired for catching vermin, fighting cobras, and for their gentleness towards their offspring. This changed the way Bastet was portrayed as she was originally depicted as a fierce lioness goddess of war but during the Twenty-second Dynasty, Bastet worship changed from being a lioness deity into being predominantly a major cat deity of love and family.


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