Happy Halloween! Just like jack-o’-lanterns, witches, and ghosts, you’re likely to see many black cats tonight too, whether they’re on decorations, costumes, or even carved into pumpkins, but do you know why black cats are associated with Halloween?
The History of Cats and Halloween
While most of us ailurophiles (a.k.a. cat lovers) know there is nothing to fear from black cats, the superstitions surrounding them have endured for centuries. While the Egyptians worshiped cats, sailors looked to them for protection, and the Japanese believe black cats are good luck, the Middle Ages established a very different reputation for them in the West.
In the Middle Ages, people started to associate cats with witchcraft because they were suspected to be the familiars of witches. In folklore, black cats were believed to be able to change into humans and act as spies. Because of this, many cats were killed throughout the 14th century. Then, when the Europeans settled in America, they brought many of these superstitions with them, including those about cats.
Over time, these misguided ideas have persisted in our culture, and they’re the reason why we see black cats with witches on Halloween decorations. In fact, most people in the West still believe that a black cat crossing one’s path is bad luck. This superstition is so ingrained in our culture that black cats are less likely to be adopted from shelters. Some of them even limit the adoption of black cats around Halloween for fear of them being hurt or used as living decorations and abandoned after the holiday. This Halloween, let’s celebrate black cats and bring an end to such beliefs.
Do you have your own interesting fact about black cats? Share in the comments below!
BONUS – How to Keep Your Cat Safe This Halloween
While Halloween can be fun for the whole family, there are some potential dangers for pets. Here are a few tips on how to keep your cat safe this Halloween:
- Halloween can be scary for cats too. Whether you’re hosting a party or answering the door for neighborhood trick-or-treaters, cats may get spooked by the endless chime of doorbells and tiny humans in strange outfits. Make sure they have a safe, quiet place away from the evening’s festivities. This will prevent any undue stress and stop them from escaping out of an open door. For outdoor kitties, keep them indoors on Halloween. While it’s uncommon, people might injure or even kill cats they see on Halloween because of the superstitions surrounding them.
- While most cats would rather tear apart their costume than pose for pictures, if you dress your cat up, remember that costumes may cause a lot of stress for some cats, never paint your cat, ensure that their costume fits well without any dangling pieces or fabric that obstructs their movement or vision, and be careful of ties and elastics because if they are too tight, they can pull their fur and/or cut off their circulation.
- Halloween is a night for all kinds of wonderful treats, but remind any children in your home that they shouldn’t share the night’s bounty with your kitties (including any plastic or foil wrappers). Did you know that animal emergency rooms see an increase in visits on Halloween due to poisoning and the ingestion of foreign objects? Eek!
- While decorating is one of the best parts of any holiday, don’t forget about your cat as you light candles and jack-o’-lanterns. Cats are curious creatures and often find themselves knocking over candles or sticking their noses into a lit pumpkin. Also, be wary of decorations like fake cobwebs or other objects that dangle as they can pose choking and strangulation risks.