Talk 2 The Animals: Black Cats and Halloween

What is it about black cats and Halloween? What did they do to deserve such notoriety, such bad luck? Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Black Cat Appreciation Day. I’ve mentioned some of the highlights from the post below or you can read it in its entirety here.

Some Background

Cats, including black cats, had a pretty good life throughout history until the Middle Ages. In Egypt they were treated as goddesses and they lived the life of luxury in Rome. By 1233, their luck had run out.

Pope Gregory IX, the same Pope who instigated the Papal Inquisition, issued a papal bull in 1233 saying that Satan could take the form of a cat, toad or a very hairy man so he could participate in orgies and  heretical rituals. With this bull, the Pope put the fear of God or the Devil (depending on what perspective you prefer) into the people. Because people feared Satan entering their homes through cats and the inherent accusations of witchcraft, folks began killing cats.

(I have not been able to find the basis for why the Pope declared the Devil would take the form of a cat. If anyone knows, please leave a comment, thanks.)

These superstitions still linger, associating black cats with bad luck, and compelling some, if not all, humane societies and shelters to prohibit the adopting of black cats at Halloween time because of the possibilities of torture and death.

Because of these either conscious or unconscious superstitions and prejudices on the part of people, black cats are often not adopted but left in shelters. The way our society is structured now, this, of course, can mean a death sentence for an innocent being.

While some sources say the claims of cat abuse around Halloween cannot be substantiated and are anecdotal, it’s enough that many shelters put a moratorium on their policies of adopting out black cats around Halloween. If the shelters don’t enact a moratorium on the adoption of black cats, they tighten their adoption screening process at this time of the year.

Which, to my mind, makes perfect sense. I experienced this when I adopted my black cat Raven. Even though I had previously adopted 3 other animals from the same shelter and the staff knew me personally, I had to wait until after the Halloween season to adopt Rave.

Our Disposable Society

One of the effects of our thoughtless, disposable society is folks want to adopt a black cat around Halloween time to use as a prop for a party, as part of their costume or for a seasonal photo shoot. It is becoming so prevalent the New York Post wrote an article about this despicable trend.

A cat is a sentient soul, not a prop. What will it take for people to realize that?

A cat is a sentient soul, not a prop. Adopting an animal is not in the same realm of reality of buying a Halloween costume, a wig and makeup, and then discarding them with the smashed pumpkins and cheap candy. Nor is adopting a cat like a library book – to be adopted and then returned the following day or in two weeks, when the person is done using the cat for their Halloween costume or display.

What will it take for people to realize that?

So, while there are sources that say the claims of black cat abuse around Halloween cannot be substantiated, I’m not going to take any chances. Raven will be safely tucked alongside of me this Halloween season.

If you’re up for some ‘black cat happiness’ take 2:33 to watch this adorable video!

 Here’s To New Beginnings,


from Janet Roper, Animal Communicator & Educator


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