It’s Halloween, and images of black cats are everywhere. Have you ever stopped to wonder how the black cat became associated with the holiday? Keep reading to learn everything you ever needed to know about black cats and Halloween.

The History of Black Cats and Halloween

No one knows exactly how black cats and Halloween have become so closely linked. It may have something to do with how stealthy and slinky these beautiful animals can be, often hunting in the darker hours. Black and the night have long been symbols of evil due to the fears of our ancestors.

Many of the old Pagan religions also associated the black cat with witchcraft and evil. This carried through into Medieval times, where witches were said to take the form of a black cat at their will. During the witch trials, black cats were often burned at the stake alongside witches.

Many of these beliefs and myths have carried through to today, resulting in the slew of black cat imagery you will see this Halloween.

Black Cat Lore and Reality

While in our country the black cat is a symbol of evil and bad luck (don’t let a black cat cross your path!), in many cultures it is actually good luck. In the British Islands, black cats are said to bring affluence to their homes, and in Japan they are a symbol of good luck as well. The ancient Egyptians even worshiped the black cat.

But alongside the myth and lore surrounding the black cat comes some very real truths.

Abuse of black cats – While the abuse and torture of black cats is not as rampant as the media would have us believe, stories of the sacrifice and other mutilation of these cats around Halloween abound. This probably doesn’t occur with any great frequency, but nevertheless it is probably smart to keep black pets close to home. Perhaps a more real concern is the adoption and then neglect of black cats intended for use as Halloween props and costume accessories. That’s why some shelters won’t adopt black cats in the weeks before Halloween.

Black cat syndrome – A very real risk of being a black cat is something called Black Cat/Dog Syndrome. This term refers to the fact that black pets are significantly less likely to be adopted from shelters and rescues than any other color. This may have something to do with the superstition surrounding black cats or the fact that black pets don’t photograph or show facial expressions as well. It is true, though, that adoption facilities are often overflowing with black pets.

Despite their ties with Halloween, black cats are no more mysterious or scary than any other cat. Keep this in mind when you go to adopt a new family member and don’t forget to consider the black cats at the shelter on your next visit, maybe even on Black Cat Appreciation Day!