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The Black Cats of Halloween

This is a good time to make sure the cat is inside

 

MetPet.com Staff Writer

Every October, owners of all black and predominantly black cats become a little more nervous about their indoor/outdoor cats.   In a season filled with the images of black cats, they wonder if the urban legend is true: people sacrifice or otherwise harm black cats on Halloween.  How did this negative association between Halloween and black cats come about and which, if any, of the legends are true?

Halloween probably originated as a Pagan day of celebration.  It was the time between the light of summer and the darkness of winter, the passing of the Sun God and the beginning of a new year.  The celebration passed through the Druids, the Celts and into the Christian tradition when Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as All Saints Day.  The night before became the night for evil spirits, witches and their familiars. 

There are a number of explanations for how Halloween became the holiday it is today.  Costumes and candy may have come from the pagan tradition of feasting and then honoring the dead by dressing as ghosts.  The tradition of Trick or Treat may have originated from the belief that evil spirits performed mischievous deeds that night, such as turning the milk sour.

A more negative tradition and one directly related to black cats, was the Celtic belief that the sinful dead came back on that night and inhabited the bodies of animals.  Only animal sacrifice would release their spirits.  When Europeans traveled to the New World, they brought with them the myths of witches and evil spirits including the one that made the black cat the companion, or the familiar, of witches.  This unfortunate connection has passed into tradition in the US and has now become an integral part of the Halloween season.

Although few believe that black cats are evil, the myths persist so it is always safest to leave all your pets inside on Halloween.  Unless, of course, they are dressed up and going Trick or Treating with you in tow.

Related Information:
Chocolate poisoning in pets

 


 

 
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