year at this time, people who own black cats are warned
to keep them safe from thieves who might want to use the
cats for nefarious purposes. Keep your black cats
indoors, owners are told, lest they be stolen and used
in dark satanic rituals.
caution is necessary or rooted merely in urban legend,
some older news accounts remind us there are individuals
who might think Halloween gives them freedom to
terrorize or kill an animal for entertainment.
using an animal as party decor or for a prank is abuse,
plain and simple. Animals don’t appreciate the holiday
and don’t understand the symbolism that surrounds it.
Like children, they can easily become frightened seeing
people in strange costumes and masks on the spookiest
night of the year.
matter how widespread the problem is or is not, the real
fear of an animal being mistreated has caused some
rescue agencies to refuse to allow anyone to adopt black
cats the last few weeks before the holiday.
cats are off the market until Halloween," said
Georjette Thomas, director of advancement at One of a
Kind Adoption Center. Instead, the West Akron, Ohio,
shelter is sponsoring a "Double the Love"
program where people can adopt one cat and get a buddy
for it at no additional adoption fee.
County, Ohio, Animal Control uses the same philosophy
with all of the adoption applications it receives,
especially this time of year, said Craig Stanley,
director of administrative services for Summit County
Executive Russ Pry.
pay attention to the conversation — for example, if
they are specifically looking for a black cat — and we
note the age of the person who wants to adopt. If the
radar goes up, it would throw up red flags," said
association between black cats and Halloween dates back
centuries to a time when people believed felines were
really witches in disguise.
originated with ancient Celtic feasts of Samhain, or
summer’s end, when it was believed that spirits
emerged from their resting places to roam the streets
and play tricks on the living.
that night, people would dress in costumes so any evil
spirit lurking in the dark would not be able to
recognize them. The spirits would be offered food and
cats were sometimes considered a witch’s familiar —
his or her supernatural servant — because they are
largely nocturnal, roaming at night when people believed
that evil lurked waiting to attack unsuspecting souls.
Imaginations ran wild when the lack of knowledge
prevented people from logically explaining what they
old traditions and superstitions die hard and many
rescues warn owners to pay special attention to the
safety of their pets during the Halloween season.
is estimated that Americans will spend $370 million on
Halloween costumes for their pets this year. The
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals has provided these common sense tips for animal
owners during the Halloween season:
treats for trick-or-treaters. Chocolate — especially
dark or baking chocolate — can be very dangerous for
dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial
sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you
suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your
veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
and decorative corn are considered to be relatively
nontoxic, but they can produce an upset stomach in pets
that nibble on them.
and cords from electric lights and other decorations
should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed,
your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a
possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
caution with candles. Pets can easily knock a lit
pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens
especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by
put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or
she loves it. For pets who don’t like them, wearing a
costume might cause undue stress.
you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t
annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s
movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe,
bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before
the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or
shows abnormal behavior, leave the costume and don a
a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it
does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off
pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits
can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading
but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a
separate room away from the front door during peak
trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary
and stressful for pets.
opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that
your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.
make sure your dog or cat has proper identification and
wears an up-to-date license. If for any reason your pet
escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a
microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances
that he or she will be returned to you.