Yes, that rich black fur does seem to hold a mystery, and the contrast of bright eyes like gems in that fur is positively enchanting. Each day a spell is cast upon me by one or more black cats, and I am helpless to resist their charms…
Certainly if black cats had some particular magic effect on humans I’d be experiencing the effects five-fold—or seven-fold as lately. I admit, I feel a great amount of creative inspiration. Feels like magic to me.
Whether people think black cats are messengers of Satan or symbols of bad luck or good luck or whether people are just plain disturbed and can bring themselves to torture or kill an animal for whatever reason they find, we’ve always been warned to keep black cats safe and indoors around Halloween. Stories of cats, often black, found injured or dead by apparently human means are reported to increase at this time of the year.
Yet in at least one city, Toronto, police reports were examined and no evidence of such activity was found, so they decided to host a special on black cat adoptions. The ASPCA agreed with this opinion, saying the greatest danger to black cats is that they are left behind in shelters—which they are, but nothing proves they are at any more danger of abuse than any other time of the year.
In Myth Buster: Adopting Black Cats at Halloween, Mike Arms, founder of the annual Home for the Holidays and Remember Me Thursday pet adoption promotions and president of Helen Woodward Animal Center has said, “I have heard this old wives’ tale more than once in my career. You would think by now that pet adoption agencies would be professional enough to be able to screen potential adopters in evaluating a good home life.”
Even National Geographic chimed in as long ago as 2007 with Ritual Cat Sacrifices a Halloween Myth, Experts Say.
Often subjects of abuse are homeless cats, who’ve found themselves living on their own after being abandoned by humans or becoming lost, or even being born on the streets to these cats. People monitoring and caring for homeless cats already have their hands full providing TNR for these cats and removing the kittens for care and adoption if possible. Perhaps one of the best things we can do to keep our cats safe during Halloween is, all year round, doing our best to reduce homeless cat populations by spaying and neutering our own cats and supporting rescues and shelters in adoptions.
There have been reported instances but not any more than any other day. I’m ready to give it up because sick people don’t need a holiday to perpetrate their twisted need for cruelty, but there are other reasons for keeping cats, black and otherwise, safe and indoors around Halloween.
Mewsette, Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine are safely inside the screen door, and when I hand out candy I sit outside so the door doesn’t open and close, yet all the kids can see the black cats inside—until the cats decide this wasn’t as exciting as they thought and head for the kitchen because it is, after all, close to their dinner time.
If you hand out treats, the whole process can be either frightening or an opportunity for your cat. On the one hand, an open door to the night can look like a once-in-a-lifetime chance at adventure, or it can look like a means to escape this confusing change in schedule and the crazy activity, noise, funny smells, and strangers their person is greeting at the door. In either case, escape is entirely possible, and with the increase in foot and vehicle traffic on nights or days when Trick or Treaters are traveling, kitty may not be missed right away or may be nearly impossible to find in the dark on that particular night. If you do hand out candy from indoors, opening the door when someone comes to knock, lock your cats inside a room so they can’t even come near the open door. It’s generally only two hours long, they can live with that for their own safety.
Aside from the dangers of the great outdoors, the great indoors poses threats to their health. One might not think an obligate carnivore would find candy to be a food choice, but one might be surprised to know that some cats will eat anything. Chocolate in particular can be enticing for the smells of the ingredients, yet it’s highly toxic. Candy and snacks in general are typically not part of a cat’s diet and are difficult if not impossible to digest. And even if they’re not eating the candy, the wrapper may be the target if you have a cat who likes plastic, or shiny things, or crackly things or any one of a number of attributes that makes candy irresistible to a kitty looking for entertainment. Also read Pet-proofing for the Holidays which outlines possible dangers in food, decorations and lifestyle on any of our holidays, and the Pet Poison Helpline has an article outlining dangers from foods, costumes and other environmental dangers.
For a very interesting article on the myths and legends of black cats, read “The Black Cat: Myth, Mystery and Symbolism” by Sally Bahner.
Read more articles in the category Health and Welfare
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!