3 Lessons Witches Can Learn From Cats – Cats as Witch’s Familiars (Podcast Episode 72)

3 Ways A Cat Can Assist In Your Magickal Practice

Why are cats often considered witch’s familiars?

We’re all so accustomed to assuming that witches and black cats go together like peanut butter and jelly… By WHY though?

This podcast episode / blog post is an in depth exploration of all things witch’s cats, from the medieval cultural stereotype that is mimicked in Halloween decor to the spiritual role cats can play in the life of a modern practical witch.

Read on, or listen to the recorded version of the Alchemy Of Affluence Podcast:

The stereotypical image of a witch with a black cat comes from the time of the witch hunts in the middle ages.

As mentioned in my previous article, Types Of Animal Spirit Guides, most of the people accused of witchcraft during the inquisition were outcasts of society who lived closer to nature than to the social norm.

It figures that cats would be the friends of such “witches,” because cats are wild animals who are happy to commune with humans.

While it’s also true that dogs were bred from wolves, it’s a much longer and more complicated evolutionary process to domesticate dogs from wolves. Cats, on the other hand, basically have the choice of whether or not to domesticate themselves!

It is the cat’s uncanny way of being sovereign, mysterious, and walking with a paw in both worlds that causes some to love them and some to be deeply disturbed by their presence.

For today, let’s focus on just three of the lessons a cat can teach a witch:

1. How to balance domestic life wiht nature connection.

2. How to balance cooperation and individual freedom in relationships.

3. how to balance darkness and light in your life and spiritual practice.

What’s weirdly wonderful about cats is that they are possibly the only animal that can be both domestic and feral within the same lifetime.

Most animals are either totally wild or fully domesticated, but a cat can be born in the wild and adapt to domestic life, or can even be born domestic and adapt to survive in the wild.

What’s even more fascinating is that the self-same cat can wake up in your bed, have a nice man-made breakfast, and then go off on her own to rule an entire outdoor ecosystem and then be back in time for supper.

Cats are also some of the only animals who can choose to be nocturnal or not. 

They have no fear of darkness or mystery. They have the option of living the night life or the nine to five. It’s pretty much up to the individual cat and his or her lifestyle.

And perhaps most enchanting of all, cats do not give a crap about what we expect of them or want them to do.

They dance to the rhythm of their own drum. These are all the same characteristics that many “witchy” types would attribute to themselves, so it makes sense that cats are such a popular pagan pet.

Afura with animal familiar cats

1. A paw in both worlds

The indoor vs. outdoor life for cats is kind of a controvercial subject among cat people…

While some feel that it is safest for cats as well as for the ecosystem to keep kitties exclusively indoors, others (such as myself) may be reluctant to lock their cats up, feeling that it would deprive them of their birth right to freedom.

As with all things along my journey, I take a middle path on this subject.

I feel that it is important for cats to have some semblance of access to both the comfort and safety of the indoors as well as to the natural world outside. How much freedom is given to them is left to the discretion of each individual cat-human relationship, but it is a core value of mine to at least let cats experience some level of fresh air, sunshine and mingling with nature. That can be anywhere from full access to the outdoors 24/7 through a cat flap door, to simply going for a walk on the leash or chilling on a fenced in patio.

Cats have a balance of wild and domestic nature, and I feel it’s important to nurture both sides in a balanced life.

Cats can be our link to the spirit of nature.

It is through observing my cats domestically and outdoors, that I can better understand my place in nature.

Cats and witches are similar in that way: We function in the mundane human society, while also living within the world of nature, connecting with the elements and the deeper spirituality of the cycles of the universe.

It can be a delicate balance at times, and it requires a strong connection to intuition. My cats and I have lived in a variety of different environments over the past (nearly) two decades together, and I’ve experienced the gambit of important decision making to maintain our health, safety, and sanity. It requires just the sort of balance taught by the wisdom of the Temperance card of the Tarot.

With cats being such independent thinkers, there must be an open dialogue of communication in order to maintain a healthy relationship. There have been times when I felt it would be most convenient to keep them indoors, and they clearly communicated that they were simply not havin’ it. I was forced to step outside my comfort zone to give them their freedom, while also being the responsible “parent” in the situation and making decisions to keep them a safe as possible.

During an early adulthood coming of age, I lived with difficult family members who wanted to keep them exclusively outdoors, but it was not safe, healthy and balanced to do so. I had to take control of my finances and living situation in big ways in order to keep my cats happy and healthy.

Being responsible for their lives has uplifted me out of my perceived limitations, and created a better life for myself and my fur babies.

We have grown up together, and mutually benefit from having each other as life partners.

The personalities of cats can teach us how to bring balance back into our own lives as well.

Trinity, for example, fully embodies what it means to be shamelessly relaxed! She reminds me not to be a work-a-holic!

They can also teach us to reconnect with nature or the spirit world.

Neko, for example, always got frustrated with me when I was spending too much time running errands or being too plugged into technology. She would yell at me until I caved and took some self-care time in meditation, yoga, or observing nature. When I did those things, she was happy and content, and basked in the ritual with me, rather than complaining at my distance from the “finer things” in life.

Afura With KuroNeko Cat

2. The balance between companionship and independence.

One of my most exciting experiences of cat-parenthood has been taking in Mowgli, my “nephew.”

My sister found him as a very young kitten in a bad situation in her New York City alley.

Despite not being a cat person, and having to keep this rather wild cat exclusively indoors in a small apartment, she rescued him and did her best to care for him. Knowing him was a deeply spiritual experience for her, but after five years of having a hard time juggling her fast paced lifestyle with caring for him, she sent him to live with me. At the time, I had a large yard in a cat-safe suburban neighborhood, and this would be Mowgli’s first time being set free outdoors.

The experience of “re-wilding” a creature who has the heart of a wild animal, but who had been cooped up for all his life was extremely profound.

Where my old lady cats were accustomed to freedom, preferring to simply sun-bathe on the porch, this little boy kitty was excited to be experiencing this freedom for the very first time.

His curiosity and bravery were very inspiring, and it was really interesting to see how naturally his wild nature began to blossom from within him. He went from being scared and curious to being confident and instinctual, and these were messages that I really needed to receive at that time in my life.

Cats love to be pet, cuddled, and pampered, but they also want to be left to their own devices when they’re in an independent mood. It was this “Cat medicine” that helped me to find my independence from a limiting codependent relationship at that time.

3. The balance of darkness and light

Having indoor-outdoor cats has taught me a lot about the balance of darkness and light in nature – As well as within ourselves.

When I was a very little girl, I allowed myself to imagine cats as herbivores, but it didn’t take long at all for me to learn through them that not everything in nature is vegetarian!

What seemed so strange to me was that the same creature who was gentle and loving toward me could also be a vicious monster with a thirst for the blood of smaller animals.

I still ponder the weirdness that cats and humans are two of the only animals that hunt for sport… As a vegetarian, I’m generally against hunting and violence of all kinds, but if I’m going to derive my spirituality from nature, that means I have to face the fact that humans, like nature, can be both kind and cruel.

Cats are not afraid of the dark, and their enhanced night vision is also a metaphor for our ability as witches to see into other realms.

Your personal definition of “other realms” can be anything from communicating with spirits to simply seeking to know thyself from the dark unknown of the subconscous mind.

By basking luxuriously in the sunlight, and then creeping out bravely into the darkness of the night, cats remind us to enjoy both the Sun and Moon.

By exploring the deeper mysteries of life, we also have a deeper appreciation for indulging the simple pleasures of the “easier” things in life. To gift the world with Light Work, we must also introspect through Shadow Work. They are two sides of the same coin.

Trinity Cat On November's Eve Samhain Altar

This article is merely scratching the surface of the vast array of lessons we learn from communing with cats… Get it? Scratching? Cats? Lol!

Afura Signature


So what are your thoughts about the topics we touched upon in this conversation?

I would love to know what your experience has been with cats, or other animal familiars.

I invite you to let me know in the comments.

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If so, I invite you to check out this one next:

Types Of Animal Spirit Guides

13 thoughts on “3 Lessons Witches Can Learn From Cats – Cats as Witch’s Familiars (Podcast Episode 72)

  1. I loved this article. I have two cats, one young and like me in my finally realized self, is still learning to live the good life of witch & magic. The other is 8 and since I finally understand & excitedly accept my true self as stepped right in to show me the way. We are all much happier and closer.

  2. This is very thoughtful and well-written, and I am so happy to have stumbled upon it. I have two adopted cats who are as different as night and day, and I love them both equally. I always feel so honored that they seem to love me too. I appreciate you sharing your insight with me. The knowledge has made me richer.

    1. Wow thank you for reading and stopping by to share your thoughts! Do you consider certain pets to be familiars moreso than others? For me, I’ve had 4 long term cats in my teen/adult life, and while I love them all equally, only two are my “familiars.” I plan on writing an article on that aspect of this topic soon. What do you think about that concept?

  3. Very interesting article with cats. I agree, and it was very well written. I myself am a vegetarian and have a deep love for animals. I have seven cats and two large dogs. They all have different personalities and definitely have many lessons to teach us. Everyday is a blessing with them all. I wouldn’t trade one of them. Love that you included pictures of your fur-babies. They were adorable.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad to hear this resonated with you. I love dogs too, and grew up with big dogs, but cats are definitely my spirit animal! But all animals teach us and help us grow for sure!

  4. I don’t have cats butI have two chihuahuas dogs myself, and they have a big tendency to act like cats! What is really nice is when I do a reading or a ritual, they will sit next to me or at my feet watching.

    1. Dogs can certainly be familiars too! I only wrote this article about cat familiars because I happen to fit right into the stereotype of witches with black cats haha! I do love dogs as well,but I’m a full time cat lady!

  5. I have a nice black cat,called Odin.He behaves like a god😂.His nick name is more mister snuggelers,for al the hug an confert at night during de dark days here in Belguim.He make me feel so safe,safe from things you cant not seen or bump at night.
    I adopted him and its love since 💒.
    Sounds crazy buth without him i would not feel witchy 🔮.
    Soo greeting of love of Odin and me 😘

      1. Thank you and the same for you,lots of good blessings and lots of good luck.

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