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October: Black Cat Month

The Perils of Halloween

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Black cat with pumpkin

Misery, a Halloween Kitty Whose Beauty Belies her Name

Tara Gorden
While October may be the favorite month of thousands of humans, who excitedly plan their costumes of spooks, vampires and monsters, in anticipation of Halloween, cats, particularly black cats, have little cause for celebration this month.

Much has been said about the more violent indignities that may be practiced on black cats at this time of year, but a more subtle cruelty has surfaced in recent years. Some shelters have noted a surge in black cat adoptions shortly before Halloween, with many of these cats returned to the shelters in the days after the holiday because "He just didn't work out." One might assume that these people just wanted another Halloween decoration for their house - a black cat in the window, perhaps, or a "familiar" to go with that new witch costume. It probably did not even occur to them that this practice is cruel and inhumane - this kind of individual typically thinks of cats as property, and not as sentient beings who suffer real trauma from being dragged back and forth from shelter to a strange new home and back again.

Let's Talk About the Violence

It is true that statistics on black cat torture during October are lacking - most of the stories are hearsay, and some, no doubt, have been drummed up simply for the shock value. The conundrum is that the problem can be self-fulfilling. Young minds are vulnerable, particularly the minds of youths who have themselves been abused. When they hear stories of ritual Satanic abuse of cats, a spark ignites, and a new crime wave is off and running, with a "stray" black cat the target.

Ritual sacrifice still exists. Talk to almost any police officer in a rural area about it and you may hear a story or two about cattle found, completely drained of blood, often with vital organs missing. These stories crop up in newspapers once in awhile, and while some may be dismissed as "urban legends," the possibility exists that some are true.

No Adoption of Black Cats During October

The perception of danger to black cats on Halloween has become so prevalent that many shelters and humane societies refuse to allow adoption of black cats during the entire month of October. Lacking this previously easy source of victims, practitioners of the black occult and other sadists look to the streets for their sacrificial cats, and color is not always the highest priority.

Myths About Black Cats

Black cats have taken a bad rap throughout history. Greek mythology taught that a woman named Galenthia, also known as Galen, was turned into a cat and became a priestess at the temple of Hecate, the "Dark Mother," and sometimes known as the Mother of Witchcraft. During the 12th and 13th century, witches in Europe were often found with their "familiars," usually black cats, and were said to turn themselves into cats at times. During the witch-burning era of the 17th century, witches' cats were put into baskets and burned alongside the witches.

Even in the 21st century, old superstitions have survived. In many European countries and in the U.S., black cats signify bad luck, while in England, your luck is said to turn good if a black cat crosses your path.

Keep Them Indoors

For the reasons cited above, it is best to keep all cats indoors during the month of October, regardless of their color, but especially if they happen to be black. (Indeed, cats are safer indoors any time of year.) Even though there may be no cultists in your neighborhood or community, the sheer numbers of people out and about on Halloween, along with increased vehicular traffic make the outdoors a frightening and unsafe place for small furry creatures.

In addition, on Halloween night and the weekend before, you'll be wise to keep your cats locked inside an interior room in the house, lest they panic and slip out when hobgoblins come to your door. Even the calmest cat can become upset at endless doorbell ringing and youthful voices shouting "Trick or treat!" Enjoy your holiday while saving your kitties from unnecessary stress.

Happy Halloween!

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