Black cats and Halloween seem to go hand-in-hand. Their images are on Halloween decorations and in quite a few Halloween movies. Some believed them to be the companions of witches; some even thought that a witch can transform into a black cat. If that’s the case, as the previous owner of a couple of black cats, my cats were faulty and never once transformed. There were only content with stealing my blanket, catching mice and rolling over for tummy rubs.
There are various superstitions about black cats that you’ve probably heard, one of the most popular being in the United States, that if a black cat crosses your path that it’s bad luck. If you’re a Cubs fan, you may be inclined to believe it. In 1969, it looked like the Cubs may go to the World Series. On September 9th, in a game against the Mets, a black cat ran onto the field, past Ron Santo, then stared down several of the Cubs players in the dugout. That year, the Mets won the World Series and some believe it was due to the cat. Despite the bad luck label, through history many actually believed that a black cat is good luck. Not all people through history believe black cats are bad luck. According to Catster.com, in the 22nd dynasty, those in Egypt believed they brought good luck and prosperity. In Italy, if a black cat sneezes it’s good luck.
According to an article on thecatsite.com, the time of Pilgrims seems to be where views of black cats took a turn for the worse. The black cat was believed to be part demon and those caught with one would be punished or killed. Information on religioustolerance.org states that the 1980’s involved a wave of “Satanic Panic” when there was a very strong belief in modern day Satanic cults that sacrificed animals and humans. This belief of black cat sacrifices has reached into today and many feel that, around Halloween, some people torture and kill black cats for fun or purpose. Some people also seem go to shelters to adopt black cats to use them as “Halloween decorations” in their home or as an accessory for their costume only to get rid of them later on.
To help protect the animals, many shelters put a ban on black cat adoptions during October. “We stop allowing black cats to be adopted two weeks before the end of September until after Halloween because we believe they are used for Satanic rights. The only time that we allow the black cats to get adopted during that time frame is if we know the family. They don’t get adopted as quickly as orange cats, but we do get them adopted. We are a no-kill facility. Right now, we have 2-1 in black cats.” says Kathy Johnson, director of The Humane Society of Bergen County/Lost Pet. Not everyone believes in enforcing a ban. A 2009 article on usatoday.com has a quote from Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA spokesman Scott Delucchi that states “It seems highly unlikely that a person with bad intentions will go into a shelter, pay $80 and sit through an adoption counseling session.”.
Laurie McCannon from Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA explains “In years past we did stop all adoptions of black cats for 2 weeks prior to Halloween. We have since changed that policy. The staff is maybe more careful around those couple of weeks – making a point to call references, checking previous veterinary history, to be sure the adopter is someone who is definitely looking for a new friend, rather than just an impulse buy.”
An article on presspublications.com states that many black cats have a difficult time being adopted because adopters believe they aren’t as colorful or interesting looking as other cats that have lighter fur or distinct markings.
While there are many superstitions surrounding black cats, it is important to make a decision on which cat to adopt based on a personal relationship with an individual cat, considering both his temperament and looks. Whether or not there is a black cat theft issue in your neighborhood, it may be in your best interest to keep your black cat indoors on Mischief Night and Halloween. Whenever my family owned a black cat, we always kept them indoors on both nights to keep him safe from those that may not have such friendly intentions. Whether a cat is black, white or any color in between, it deserves to be safe, happy and protected.
Johnson, Kathy. Director of The Humane Society of Bergen County/Lost Pet. Email to author. 30 Sept. 2010.
McCannon, Laurie. Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA. Email to author. 30 Sept. 2010.