Throughout human history, humans have had a love-hate relationship with cats, especially black cats. While it is true that the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, Western culture has maintained several unpleasant superstitions about them. Beginning in the Middle Ages, some people have associated cats with witchcraft and evil doings and many actually believed that witches could transform themselves into cats. Much too often, silly ideas about cats have led to the violent persecution of both cats and the people who love them. For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, several thousands of cats and the humans who took care of them were accused of being witches and put to cruel deaths.
Today, even though cats are the number one pet in the United States and many other Western countries, mean-spirited bias against cats still exists, often with disturbing echoes from the past. Some unstable people who have been exposed to hateful and callous attitudes toward cats use any excuse they can find to capture and torture them, and Halloween is a common time of this sort of disgusting behavior.
Because the Halloween seasons seems to spark horrible violence against cats in general and black cats in particular, many shelters will not allow the adoption of black cats during October. Shelters have found that allowing the adoption of black cats during this time could lead to black cats being adopted purely for “decoration” and then being returned shortly after Halloween or being adopted for far more dire reasons. This rule of thumb does not protect all cats though, especially outdoor feral or pet cats from sadists and cruel people.
Cats may face additional dangers during the Halloween season that might typically not occur with other holidays. On Halloween eve and Halloween night, there are a great number of people outside, including children that may be quite rowdy while trick-or-treating. Teens and adults hosting or returning home from Halloween parties may be silly while role-playing and quite possibly under the influence of alcohol.
Combine all of these dangers with the seemingly innocent increase in traffic, noise, and shouting that accompany Halloween, and outside can become a very frightening and unsafe place for cats.
Protect Your Cat During Halloween
Keeping your cat indoors on and around Halloween is your first priority, but there are many other dangers you need to be aware of.
If your cat is normally an outdoor cat or an indoor-outdoor cat, start keeping her indoors about a week before Halloween night. Many communities celebrate Halloween on or before October 31 and some neighbors may begin hosting parties around a week before. Start getting your cat accustomed to being indoors as soon as possible.
On the night of trick-or-treating, have a plan in place to secure your cat safely away from the front door. Simply keeping your cat indoors may prove to be a difficult feat if you are going to opening the door several times throughout the night to pass out candy. Choose a room and keep the door shut the entire night. Supply your cat with anything and everything that she may need to be comfortable. Add scratching posts and catnip toys and don’t forget the food, water, and litter box.
Keep your cat far away from any Halloween candles and Jack-O-Lanterns. While flames make a great addition to any Halloween decoration ambiance, they can be dangerous for your cat and home. Your cat may try to swat at the flickering flame and burn her paw or knock over the candle, starting a fire in your home. Electrical wires should also be secured away from the reach and teeth of your cats. If your cat chews through electrical wires, she could be electrocuted or start a fire in your home.
If Your Cat Escapes
Even while taking all of the above suggestions, accidents do happen and your cat may end up bolting out the door. There are several precautions that you can take to help prevent your cat from escaping and to locate her if she does get out.
Make sure your cat has proper identification well before the Halloween season. Microchipping is harmless and permanent and can ensure that you are notified if your cat is picked up by animal control or turned over to a shelter by a caring neighbor. A breakaway collar with an identification tag may also help ensure that you get a call if anyone locates your cat. Make sure you use a breakaway collar to prevent strangulation in cast your cat gets caught on or inside something, such as a tree or fence.
If you are hosting a party, keep your cat confined to a secure room or kennel and put up signs asking guests not to let the cat outside.