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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Black Cats and Halloween

One of my Halloween visitors is getting an early start  on tomorrow's holiday, which is National Candy Corn Day, an event that is always celebrated on October 30th. I plan to post something about it at the time of the actual celebration, but this guy prefers to take his large piece of candy corn now. He does not like to go out on Halloween or Mischief Night (which coincides with National Candy Corn Day) and I understand his trepidation. 

Franny Syufy  explains that "While October may be the favorite month of thousands of humans, who excitedly plan their costumes of spooks, vampires and monsters, in anticipation of Halloween, cats, particularly black cats, have little cause for celebration this month. Much has been said about the more violent indignities that may be practiced on black cats at this time of year, but a more subtle cruelty has surfaced in recent years. Some shelters have noted a surge in black cat adoptions shortly before Halloween, with many of these cats returned to the shelters in the days after the holiday because 'He just didn't work out.' One might assume that these people just wanted another Halloween decoration for their house - a black cat in the window, perhaps, or a 'familiar' to go with that new witch costume. It probably did not even occur to them that this practice is cruel and inhumane - this kind of individual typically thinks of cats as property, and not as sentient beings who suffer real trauma from being dragged back and forth from shelter to a strange new home and back again." 

This is only a snippet of Syufy's article and if you'd like to read the entire piece, please click here. I initially came across it while doing research for a blog post I wrote in 2011 titled  WEDNESDAY'S WISDOM: "If cats could talk, they probably wouldn't."

In any event, my candy corn loving cat is not the only black cat visiting me at this time. A few black cats have come here with witches as seen in the following photos, which were all featured in a "story" here on Blogger this last Saturday.

And another black cat (who looks like he has eaten a lot of candy corn) is currently visiting me for Halloween. He can be seen in the picture below, and is a cat you might recognize, as he has been visiting me for a number of years which has been documented in my posts here on Blogger as well as in entries on tumblr and hometalk.

Syufy's prolific article is the not the only piece I've read re the plight of black cats. There is an excellent one on, which states: "Black cats have long served as objects of superstition. In Medieval France and Spain, black cats were considered bringers of bad luck and curses to any human they came near, and were associated with witchcraft. Many Medieval Germans believed themselves to be cursed if a black cat crossed their path from left to right. Black cats, however, have also served as symbols of good luck in numerous cultures. In the British Islands, black cats are often believed to bring affluence to any house they occupied. In Japan, they are also considered to bring good luck. In Ancient Egypt, black cats were worshipped as sacred."

Hartz's article also poses the question, "How did black cats come to represent bad luck and spookiness in the United States?," and they answer it by saying ,"It all started with the Pilgrims in the Plymouth colony. The Puritan Pilgrims distrusted anything associated with witches and sorcery, including black cats. They actively persecuted black cats – it became a practice to burn black cats on Shrove Tuesday to protect the home from fire. After the anti-witch zeal had subsided in the colonies, black cats had been thoroughly cemented in popular legend right alongside witches. Decorators use them as a Halloween symbol, both alongside witches and independently, to add a frightful, unnerving ambience to their front steps, their green eyes spooking trick-or-treaters."

Furthermore, Hartz encourages folks to consider adopting a black cat from a shelter, stating, "that due to latent superstition, studies have shown that black cats are much less likely to be adopted compared with other fur colors. By adopting a black cat, you may rescue an animal who may otherwise not have found a loving owner. However, some shelters will not adopt-out a black cat immediately before Halloween. Some owners have been known to use them as 'living decorations' before abandoning them.

Because of the cruelty that can be inflicted on black cats at Halloween, one of the black cats who has visited me over the years, and has been featured in my writing (on tumblr and hometalk) dresses up like a wolf for Halloween (as seen below).

His name is Wolfie Williams and his secret is safe with me!

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