Debunking the myths around black cats and Halloween

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Debunking the myths around black cats and Halloween - Black cat pawing at owner's finger

There’s plenty of magic in the air since Disney released the highly-anticipated sequel to its Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus 2, featuring an all-new, midnight-hued cat named Cobweb.

Leaning into the spooky season spirit, Vetster’s Medical Director Dr. Sarah Machell unpacks a few of the facts—and myths—related to black cats and Halloween.

Myth: Black cats are dangerous

Black Cat Perched on Cat Tree

The connection between black cats and Halloween dates back centuries. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats, hence the modern connection with Halloween and witchcraft. However, anyone who owns a black cat will tell you that these felines are just as sweet as any other cat. In fact, in Asia and the United Kingdom, they are even thought to bring good luck.

Fact: Black cats suffer from ‘Black Dog Syndrome’, preventing them from being adopted into loving homes

Fluffy Black Cat Perched in a Tree Outdoors

Black dog syndrome refers to a pattern that many shelters and adoption centers have observed over the years that adopting black dogs and cats into new homes tends to be very difficult. Theories include that they tend to not photograph as well on adoption sites, and there are negative associations from movies and the media.

Myth: Black cats are more at risk of violent attacks during Halloween

Young Fluffy Black Kitten with Pumpkin

Due to their mythical connections with witchcraft and their association with Halloween, you’ll probably hear scary stories about black cats being abused, abandoned or killed when October 31st rolls around. While such stories are popular, there is no substantial evidence that black cats are in more danger on Halloween than any other time of the year.

Fact: Cats are some of the most euthanized animals in shelters

Black Cat sitting Indoors

Because of urban legends and fears that people will adopt black cats to use as props for their Halloween costumes, some shelters ban the adoption of black cats this time of year. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cats account for more than half of animals at shelters who are euthanized each year, and these bans are likely preventing black cats from being adopted into good homes around this spooky holiday. So be sure to spread the word that any time is a good time to bring a cat into your life.

So when you’re dimming the lights and popping some popcorn to enjoy with Hocus Pocus 2, remember that there are many black cats out there in need of a loving home, and adopting a darker-hued friend is a bright idea that will reward you for many years to come.