Cats have been associated with magic for centuries. But did you know that black cats and Halloween have a complex history intertwined with myths and superstitions?
Today, let's explore some of these legends and provide some tips to keep your feline friends safe during this spooky season.
It all started in ancient Egypt. The origin of cats as revered animals can be traced back to ancient Egypt. As early as 3400 BCE, Egyptians worshiped cats and cat-like divinities. The cat's cobra-wrestling, scorpion-defeating, and rat-reducing abilities won them special favor among other animals that Egyptians paid homage to.
Bastet and Mafdet, two Egyptian super-goddesses, resembled cats and were believed to protect hearth and home like their animal counterparts. Wealthy Egyptian families decorated their cats with jeweled collars and offered them lavish meals.
The Egyptian rulers honored cats by creating statues and paintings of them. Even when a cat passed away, morticians mummified its body. The cat lovers of Egypt were so devoted that they would shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when a pet cat died.
It can be said that the ancient Egyptians played a significant role in establishing cats as powerful, magical, and divine creatures. And one can't help but wonder, aren't they?
Celts grew to revere cats, too. Pharaoh forbade cat exports, but Phoenician traffickers spirited the animals to buyers throughout the Mediterranean. Later, Roman soldiers took the creatures to ancient Britain where things really got interesting for cats.
The pre-Roman Brits decided that cats were the guardians of the Otherworld, the realm of gods, heroes, and the dead. The Celts believed cats linked our world with the spiritual dimension. They also identified black cats as evil. Some historians think Celtic priests would even sacrifice male black cats to make love potions or as part of a divination ceremony.
Certainly, the Celts began the legend of Cait Sidhe. They attributed magical powers to this cat-like creature who prowled from house to house on Samhain, the holiday we now call Halloween. Folks left out a treat, usually a saucer of milk, for Cait Sidhe so he would bless them. Those who left no treats could expect Cait Sidhe to curse their cows.
Cats became linked to European witches in the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, cats were associated with witches in Europe. However, when Europe became Christianized, cats lost their divine status and their population dwindled. People started to believe that cats were witches’ familiars and began to avoid them to prevent being linked to witchcraft.
One popular misconception is that Europeans killed so many cats that the rat population increased, leading to the outbreak of the Black Plague. However, this is not true, as killing cats was never done on a large scale. Besides, the Black Plague was caused by fleas that were carried by rats. Although the superstitions surrounding cats died out, they never regained their former status as deities.
It's important to keep your pets safe on Halloween, especially black cats. While some people believe that mischievous kids pose a threat to black cats on Halloween, the real danger comes from holiday treats and decorations. Chocolate, sugar-free candy, and other treats can be poisonous to cats and dogs, while decorations like snaps and baubles can be choking hazards. Even costumes and party favors can pose a risk to pets if they contain small attachments that can be swallowed. Additionally, the presence of trick-or-treaters can scare cats and cause them to run out the door.
To ensure the safety of your pets, keep them indoors on Halloween, and in an enclosed room if possible. Provide them with food, fresh water, and a toy to keep them entertained. If your pet does manage to consume something harmful, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
Remember, the safest place for your pets is always indoors, especially on holidays.
“It looks nicer than any other hooded or open option we considered.”