During October, you may see people start to decorate for the spooky holiday known as Halloween. Many people use specific characters or monsters to scare trick-or-treaters, such as ghosts, witches, and black cats. But how did the black cat become associated with Halloween, and why are they superstitiously considered bad luck?
Long before black cats were seen as evil, they were worshiped. In ancient Egyptian times, cats were considered to be demi-deities. These cats would kill rodents after the people’s crops, which helped prevent diseases from spreading. The ancient Egyptian people believed cats were their beloved goddess Bastet, manifested in physical form.
However, not everyone throughout history has loved these cats. In fact, around 2,000 years ago, Celtic tribes in Ireland believed that if you were to mess with witchcraft, you would turn into a cat. Historically they were given as sacrifices to the Lord of the Dead by the Druids. During the Middle Ages, when the bubonic plague began to devastate Europe, the cats would eat the infected rats, which led to people believing the plague spread began through the cats and witches.
Then when the Puritans came to America and began the witch hunts and the infamous Salem Witch Trials it spelled more trouble for our black feline friends. Most everyone familiar with the witch trials knows it was when many women were falsely accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. But what many don’t know is that black cats were also hunted and burned alongside these women. Truly a tragic time in American history.
Throughout history, you can see how black felines came to be seen as a symbol of Halloween. Unfortunately for the cat, it did not result in anything but negative associations with the holiday. Stories still circulate today of how black cats are harmed in satanic rituals, cruelly abused, or abandoned around Halloween. These are false, misleading myths.
No matter if your feline friend is black or not, there are precautions you can take to ensure your cats’ safety on Halloween. Microchipping your pet is one way to ensure their safety, that way, if they get spooked and run off, your chances of being reunited are much greater if they have been microchipped. Be sure your cat is safely away from your front door, in another room perhaps, when trick-or-treaters come knocking. You wouldn’t want them escaping as kids come looking for candy.Cats are curious creatures, so make sure any possibly hazardous décor is out of their reach. Fake spider webs are a problem if your kitty eats them, candles are easily knocked over, starting fires, and Jack-o-lanterns can be enticing to some cats who may try nibbling on your pumpkin. Place it in a location your cat can’t access, such as the front porch.
It’s important to give your cat a safe space if they are easily frightened or fear people. Placing her in a room away from the front entrance to the house when the neighborhood kids come knocking on the door while trick-or-treating will allow her to feel protected and keep her safe from possibly escaping or getting lost.
Black cats have long been associated with Halloween. But we all know these myths surrounding this dark feline aren’t true. If you love black cats, please speak up for them and protect them and your own cat during the holiday. Then both you and your feline friend will be able to enjoy this holiday we all know as Halloween.