Happy Halloween! Whether you’re busy dipping caramel apples, carving pumpkins, or putting the finishing touches on your costume, have you ever wondered how cats came to be 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 our feline companions, the superstitions surrounding black cats 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 kind of 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 even 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 are 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 a symbol of misfortune. This superstition is so ingrained in our culture that black cats are the least adopted cats from shelters. Some shelters even limit the adoptions 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 the black cats in our lives and help 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 frightful fun for the whole family, there are some potential dangers for pets. Here are some tips on how to keep your cat safe this Halloween.
- Halloween can be scary for cats too. While most of us love hosting parties and answering the door for neighborhood trick-or-treaters, cats aren’t as fond of the unusual noises that come along with the endless chime of doorbells and tiny humans in strange outfits. Make sure they have a safe and quiet place to rest away from the evening’s festivities. This will prevent any undue stress and avoid the potential for your cat to escape out of an open door. For outdoor kitties, keep them inside on Halloween. While it’s uncommon, people sometimes injure or even kill cats that they see on Halloween because of the superstitions surrounding them.
- While most cats would have a better time tearing apart their costume instead of posing for pictures, if you dress your cat up, then keep these things in mind: be aware 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, then they can pull their fur and/or cut off their circulation.
- Halloween is a night for all kinds of wonderful treats, but make sure that any children in your house are reminded not to 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 to keep your cat in mind 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 strangulation and choking risks.