Black cats are synonymous with Halloween, but they are not a holiday decoration! Black cats are the most at-risk cats as rescues, strays, and those in loving furever homes. Black cats need extra consideration all year, but especially during Halloween. Let’s talk about why that is and how you can help protect black cats.
Why are people scared of black cats?
Historically, many stories and rumors spread that created superstitions and naive beliefs about black cats. This caused many people to fear them over a long period. From bad luck to a witches’ familiar to satanic worship – black cats get a bad rap.
It wasn’t always this way many black cats were worshipped:
- In ancient Egypt, they worshipped a cat goddess named Bast that was often a black cat, and people kept them in their homes hoping to be blessed by Bast.
- In Celtic mythology, a black cat form of a fairy was called Cat Sith – people believed if you left a saucer of milk on Halloween, also known as Samhain, the household would be blessed with an entity.
- Scottish people peopled a black cat in a house meant prosperity for the household.
- In Britain, black cats are considered good luck, and in fact, King Charles I gave his black cat credit for his good luck.
- In Japan, they also believe black cats are good luck, especially with finding love.
So when and why did people start thinking that black cats were bad luck?
- There was a horrible mass killing of black cats in the middle ages because they were associated with Satan, witches, and the supernatural. They were also associated with bad luck and death.
- Puritans in America thought black cats were associated with witches or witches’ familiars. They also believed that witches could inhabit a black cat.
- In Italy, during the 16th century, people believed that if a black cat lay on a person’s sickbed, death was imminent.
- If a black cat crosses your path, it is bad luck – another widespread myth along with a black cat walking away from you, seeing one from behind, or they are spotted during a funeral procession.
What is Black Cat Syndrome?
Black cats are adopted at lower rates than other cats and are more likely to be euthanized – this is a long-held belief in the cat rescue community. However, according to a recent study, this is a myth, and the reason people believe this is because there are more black cats overall.
Black cat syndrome is a term coined by cat shelters. Of course, this phenomenon has more to do with ignorance or superstition than something wrong with black cats. October is black cat awareness month to dispel these beliefs. However, many shelters and rescues are hesitant to allow black cat adoptions during October, as they must be cautious of adopters that do not want to adopt for the right reasons.
How to protect black cats during October
Halloween isn’t the only day your black cat is in danger; it is the entire month leading up to it.
- It is a good idea to keep your black cat inside during the month to avoid someone snatching your cat and doing something horrible – some people sadly play tricks with black cats and hurt or kill them in the process
- If you are at a rescue or adoption center – be wary of people asking for a black cat before Halloween – many people adopt them just before as a party prop and then abandon them on November 1st
- All cats are safer inside on Halloween night and far from trick or treaters and candy that may be toxic to them – for more about Halloween safety tips – click here.