They are strong, they are beautiful and they look like miniature Jaguars. They are the black cats. This past October 27th was National Black Cat day, appropriately placed just a stone's throw away from Halloween.
These beautiful cats were once revered in Egyptian times. As well, in Celtic mythology it was believed that fairies could take the form of black cats, so they were perceived as a sign of good luck. It was not until the Pilgrims that the view of the black cat changed. Since the cats were associated with Pagan beliefs the Pilgrims became highly suspicious of them and the superstition arose that they were the apprentice of witches. It did not help that cats are crepuscular - preferring to rest during the day and becoming more active in the evening and through the night. As Witchcraft spread through Europe the black cats became increasingly entwined with it’s lore. It is believed now that these “witches” were actually healers involved in making potions derived from nature, intended to help cure the people of their village from various maladies. As they were very naturalistic the witches welcomed feline friends into their home. Sadly for the cats as the fear of the “witches” grew, so did the fear of the black cats that they kept as their companions. It was even believed that witches could transform themselves and take on the form of the cats - a belief that even travelled across the sea and was a part of the infamous Salem witch trials. You can read more about black cats and the mythology around them: Click Here
Over the ages as the general fear of witches has dissipated, so has the fear of black cats. However, they have not yet been able to separate themselves from the relationship that they have with Halloween and witches. As a result it is common practice that many adoption agencies will place a hold on adopting out black cats around Halloween to avoid the cats falling into the wrong hands. There is questionable evidence whether there is more danger to cats, of any colour, around Halloween but many adoption agencies believe that it is better to err on the side of caution. So what should you do to keep your cat safe this Halloween?
It is best practice to keep your cat (of any color) inside for 12-24 hours leading up to Halloween. The idea behind this is that we want to make sure that they are home and safely tucked away before all of the trick-or treaters (and their cars) hit the streets. Trick or treating is not a time for your cat to be out roaming as the number of people on the roads and the increase in cars can all lead to a chaotic and confusing time. Your cat may not get hurt, but they may end up confused and hiding somewhere that they don’t usually go. Once inside, or for the indoor cats, It is a great idea to keep them in a room away from the front door to prevent them escaping past eager trick or treaters. Another thing to watch for is the placement of decorations (especially ones with strings), candles and lit pumpkins. All of these can pose dangers to our cats and should be placed so that they can not be reached, even by the most curious of our feline friends.
As always, if you have concerns about your cat, or need more suggestions as to how approach the Halloween festivities then the vets at Healthy Pets are just a phone call away.
We wish you all a Purr-fectly Safe and Happy Halloween!