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The Image of Cats at Halloween

Halloween is getting close and I always have such mixed emotions about the day. I love dressing up in costumes with my kids and spending the evening trick-or-treating. The part of Halloween that deeply disturbs me though has to do with the way cats are portrayed on decorations, pumpkins and other things related to this day. There are countless Halloween images of mean-faced black cats with their backs hunched up, displaying piloerection. You won’t find any Halloween decorations displaying puppies with mean or evil faces but there’s always an abundance of menacing cat poses to choose from for your Halloween cat

Keep Your Cat Indoors

Because cats continue to get such unfair press this time of year, it puts them at risk in terms of their physical safety if they’re allowed outdoors. Cats, and most especially black cats, are very vulnerable this time of year when it comes to being the target of cruelty. Many shelters won’t even adopt out black cats during October just to prevent the potential for abuse. If you allow your cat to go out, please begin the transition to indoor life. He should, at the very least, be kept indoors starting a few days before Halloween and continuing for a few days after. If you have a black cat, I’d recommend keeping him indoors at least a week before Halloween. Of course, my best recommendation is to keep all cats indoors exclusively but if you do have an indoor/outdoor cat and don’t intend on permanently changing his lifestyle, at least consider the safety risks during this specific holiday where cats have historically been the targets of safety at halloween


Other Safety Issues

Even without the risk of potential abuse or death during this time of year, there are other safety issues to keep in mind. The sights and sounds of kids and adults in costumes can be very unsettling. A person may not intend any harm to your cat but even pranks, teasing or games could terrify the unsuspecting animal. Costumes themselves can be frightening for some cats. Even with indoor cats, the sight of your children in costume could be frightening, especially if your children act out or display movements related to the costume.

Trick-or-Treaters at the Door

If your cat has a habit of door darting whenever it’s open, then Halloween can be a real challenge for you. To keep your cat safe, place him in a separate room to prevent the chance that he might slip out the door as you’re dropping candy into the open bags of trick-or-treaters standing just outside your open door. I live in Tennessee and Halloween is often warm enough where the neighbors set up chairs and sit in their driveways to greet the trick-or-treaters. This method cuts down on the constant doorbell ringing that upsets the family cat or dog inside. If it’s too cold in your area of the country and the sound of the doorbell is freaking out the family pet, consider setting up a basket of candy on your front porch with a “please take one” sign. This is also a good option if you’re going to be out for the evening and the dog and or cat left at home gets upset by the ringing of the doorbell. This way you won’t disappoint any trick-or-treaters who come to your home and you also won’t upset the pets indoors.

Halloween Candy

Speaking of candy, it’s not a healthy snack for cats and chocolate is especially toxic. Cats don’t typically have a sweet tooth but if your cat has gotten into the habit of swiping food from the table or has been exposed to sweet food from family, make sure all candy is kept out of kitty’s reach. Even the wrappers can potentially cause choking so make sure all candy is unreachable by even most determined candy-hunting cat.

Don’t Contribute to the Negative Image of Cats

Finally, please don’t contribute to the negative image of cats. Refrain from displaying Halloween decorations that portray cats in evil, frightening or negative ways. Educating people about the unfair image of cats starts with those of us who know and love these beautiful animals.

Wishing you and your cats a very safe and happy Halloween.



Halloween infographic


Books by Pam Johnson-Bennett