Are Black Cats Really in Danger Around Halloween?
The black cat myth of being “bad luck” has deep, historical roots and has even influenced the way that animal shelters adopt out cats around Halloween. In addition to avoiding a black cat that may cross your path, others claim that satanic or cult groups specifically adopt black cats in order to eliminate and/or sacrifice them. There’s also a belief that black cats roaming around outdoors, especially in October, are more likely to be captured and harmed. Furthermore, there’s a fear that black cats are merely adopted around Halloween as a prop and then either abandoned or returned to the shelter.
So do these claims hold merit?
Where the Myth Comes From
First, let’s talk about why black cats have such an unfortunate, unsubstantiated rap. The “bad luck” myth is perpetuated throughout many different cultures — especially in the West — and stems largely from beliefs held in the middle ages. Around this time, it was purported that black cats were cohorts to witches (and even Satan himself), helping to fulfill evil spells and curse those whose paths they crossed. Some even believed witches shape-shifted into black cats.
Puritanical pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock brought these superstitious beliefs with them. According to Mary Anne Miller’s The Mystique Behind Black Cats, “Comprised of Englanders and Europeans, these pilgrims were a deeply suspicious group. They viewed the black cat as a companion, or a familiar, to witches. Anyone caught with a black cat would be severely punished or even killed…When the Christians gained a foothold in America, they also propelled this myth forward during a time when witches were coming into fruition in America.”
Throughout history, this myth has lost much of its fear-based momentum and has instead turned into mostly kitschy fun. Thankfully, many consider the “bad luck” myth simply that — a myth. That said, there’s still concern about whether a small percentage of the population still believes, and acts, on the archaic folklore.
So… Are Black Cats in Danger?
Interestingly, Snopes.com — a website dedicated to debunking claims — did some extensive reporting on the topic. Along the way, they found numerous anecdotal tales about black cats going missing or strange scenarios surrounding adoptions. However, they concluded that any evidence surrounding claims of black cat abductions and killings was inclusive.
All that said, the long-held superstition and upsetting stories do ignite fear in owners and shelters across the country. As a result — and to the frustration of those who consider the whole “black cat” worry overblown — many do adjust their behavior and policies starting as early as August.
For example, pet parents make sure their black cats are kept indoors, and shelters will press hold the adoption of black cats or become much more stringent in their vetting process for potential owners.
Whether you believe that black cats are more in danger around Halloween or not, we argue that thorough adoption vetting at shelters, and keeping your pet indoors, are smart moves throughout the year — and for any animal. Also, because black cats are arguably less likely to be adopted out (perhaps due to the spooky myths that surround them), seeking a black cat when you’re in a place to adopt would be helpful.
Black cats unite! Share a picture of your kitty with us on Instagram by tagging #gohealthypaws. And if you aren’t already a pet parent with us, look into getting a free quote to help safeguard not just your special fur friend, but your wallet too.