Today, black cats are as much a part of the Halloween tradition as pumpkins and witches. However, black cats have not always been associated with Halloween. In fact, from ancient times until recent history, black cats do not seem to have been connected to Halloween. Their modern association with Halloween appears to be a relatively recent and mostly American contribution to the holiday.
Black cats have long served as objects of superstition. In Medieval France and Spain, black cats were considered bringers of bad luck and curses to any human they came near, and were associated with witchcraft. Many Medieval Germans believed themselves to be cursed if a black cat crossed their path from left to right. Black cats, however, have also served as symbols of good luck in numerous cultures. In the British Islands, black cats are often believed to bring affluence to any house they occupied. In Japan, they are also considered to bring good luck. In Ancient Egypt, black cats were worshipped as sacred.
In the US it all started with the Pilgrims in the Plymouth colony. The Puritan Pilgrims distrusted anything associated with witches and sorcery, including black cats. They actively persecuted black cats – it became a practice to burn black cats on Shrove Tuesday to protect the home from fire. After the anti-witch zeal had subsided in the colonies, black cats had been thoroughly cemented in popular legend right alongside witches. Today decorators use them as a Halloween symbol, both alongside witches and independently, to add a frightful, unnerving ambience to their front steps, their green eyes spooking trick-or-treaters.
If you’re really feeling the holiday spirit this Halloween, consider adopting a black cat from an animal shelter or rescue service. Due to latent superstition, black cats are much less likely to be adopted compared with other fur colors. By adopting a black cat, you may rescue an animal who may otherwise not have found a loving owner. However, some shelters will not adopt-out a black cat immediately before Halloween. However, there is “a more subtle cruelty” that goes on this time of year. It involves people adopting black cats as costume accessories, then returning them to the shelters or dumping them.
Safeguarding All Cats
In the end, your best bet is bringing all of your felines inside. The kid next door may not be into satanic rituals, but there are a lot of cars on the road, and coyotes are also a very real danger
So how can you keep your cat safe on Halloween?
The coming-and-going of trick-or-treaters makes it all too easy for cats and kittens (and even dogs) to slip out. Try creating a “haven” and putting your cats in a separate room. Otherwise, trot your bowl of goodies outside and shut the door firmly behind you.
Other Halloween Dangers for Cats
* Candles and jack-o’-lanterns with candles in them: Don’t leave your cats alone with them.
* Chocolate and other delights: Keep these as far away from your cats as possible unless you like talking to the folks at the Pet Poison Helpline (check your local number).
Make sure your children — particularly the younger ones who don’t know any better — don’t give any chocolate to the pets.
* The foil and plastic wrappers are a problem, too.
Do you believe that a black cat crossing in front of you will bring bad luck?