Happy Halloween, pet parents!
It’s hard to find a decoration, movie, or TV show this time of year that does not include a black cat. They, along with bats and spiders, are the animal faces of Halloween. Read on to learn how black cats came to be associated with all things spooky, and how to ensure that the black cat fixation remains an innocent and whimsical one for the black cats in your life.
Black cats are some of the least-adopted from shelters. One contributing reason is that people continue to associate black cats with superstition and bad luck. If you own a black cat, you know they’re just like any other cat—affectionate and charming if you pay attention to their needs and build a good relationship with them. One of my longest and dearest childhood 2nd Mom and mentor-turned-friend, Linda, has always had a black cat. She affectionately named them BooKitty (yes, there have been more than one so the second was BooKitty2!). They were sweet and loving kitties and are dearly missed by their Mom.
How Does a Cat End up Black?
What makes a cat’s fur black? Any pairing of parents that simply have the black color gene. This means that your black cat could have been the result of any color of cat that had the black gene, not even necessarily the result of two pure black cats. The genes that code for black fur are also generally found with those that result in piercing yellow or green eyes.
How Did Black Cats Come to be Viewed Negatively?
In the Middle Ages (approximately AD 500-1500 in Europe), when witchcraft became a concern was when people first began associating black cats with witches and bad luck. Why? According to English folklore, witches could shape-shift into black cats and go haunting and havoc-wreaking in the night.
When the English came to North America and settled on the east coast in the 18th century, the tradition came with them. You can imagine the implications this then had when the Salem Witch Hunts were taking place. Plus, there’s the well-known superstition that says walking by a black cat will bring bad luck.
Bad Luck…or Just the Opposite?
But on the contrary, look to cultures like Japan, and ironically enough, parts of more recent England—these parts of the world have beliefs that black cats actually bring good luck. In Japan, it’s believed that black cats will bring many suitors to single women, and in parts of England, it’s considered good luck to give a bride a black cat as a wedding gift, as it will bring her a prosperous marriage.
Protecting Black Cats this Halloween
Most people these days tend to see black cats through a more gracious lens. Popular entertainment like “Black Panther” and Netflix’s reboot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” have made people want to have a tiny black house panther or a Salem of their own, but there are still those out there who see black cats as nefarious.
So how can you go the extra mile to make sure your black cat or those in your neighborhood have a happy Halloween The obvious answer is that if you have one, keep him or her indoors that night. Take extra precautions if you’re expecting trick-or-treaters or hosting a party, and your door will be opening and closing all night. Tell your guests to kindly enter and exit quickly, and to do all they can to prevent your cat from getting out while they are doing so.
You might consider closing your cat in an interior room so you don’t even have to worry about this possibility. Make sure your cat is comfortable. If she is not accustomed to being enclosed, consider some essential oils, putting a blanket or piece of clothing with your scent on it with her, or putting in toys that will keep her occupied.
Though Halloween is a night that’s ripe with opportunities for going out and merry-making, consider keeping it as normal a night as possible for you and your black cat and other pets. Similar to the Fourth of July, this is a night on which there’s going to be a lot of commotion outside. Your cat may become confused and stressed. One way to alleviate this is to simply stay in and park on your couch with a scary movie and a bowl of Halloween candy all to yourself. Snuggle with your cat by your side, so she’ll be reassured by your presence, and you can keep a direct eye on her.
But if you are going out, consider installing some cameras that will allow you to monitor your cat indoors and/or observe the exterior of your house. This way, you’ll be the first to know if any suspicious characters approach your home, or if your black cat somehow gets out.
We Love ALL Cats!
We at Space Coast Pet Services love cats of every color and are available for pet sitting to feed and check in on your kitty if you’re going to be away. Our staff is trained on cat care, and we can feed and socialize with your beautiful black feline as well as play with them and clean their litter boxes. Get in touch with us here.
If you want to be really proactive, if you know of black feral/community cats in your area, you may want to do what you can to place them in a secure location for the night. This may mean trapping them and keeping them in a room in your home, or taking them to a shelter.
You also can do your part to help change the overall stigma against taking black cats as pets! Post good pictures of yours, and speak highly of them! Consider fostering black cats from your local shelter, or volunteer to take good photos of these notoriously-hard-to-photograph creatures to post on the shelter’s website.
So, happy haunting! Enjoy this Halloween, but do what you can to make it a great one for your black cat and the unhoused ones in your community as well.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. In 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR and committed to ongoing training and education. She leads a team with diverse backgrounds who are all animal-loving pet care professionals. Melanie is the mother of two amazing humans, two small pups and a witty African Grey parrot and enjoys volunteering, reading, swimming, hiking, traveling, grilled cheese sandwiches, and naps.
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