Halloween Safety for Cats

Cats may be lost or abused on Halloween.

Halloween is a wonderful opportunity for children (and many adults) to engage in fun and frivolity, but for cats it is filled with dangers—some of them extreme. Fortunately, there are ways that you can make the holiday delightful rather than frightful for your cat.

Why Is Halloween Scary for Cats?

Throughout history, Western culture has had a love-hate relationship with cats, especially black cats. Although the ancient Egyptians revered cats, our culture has maintained various unpleasant superstitions about them. Starting in the Middle Ages, certain groups associated cats with witchcraft and evil and believed that witches could turn themselves into cats. Far too often, misguided ideas about felines have led to the violent persecution of both cats and the people who cared for them. For instance, in the 16th and 17th centuries, tens of thousands of cats, along with humans accused of being witches, were cruelly put to death.

Today, although cats are the most popular pet in the United States and other Western countries, mean-spirited anti-cat bias persists, sometimes with disturbing echoes from the past. Unfortunately, some unstable people who have been exposed to callous or hateful attitudes toward cats use Halloween as an excuse to capture and viciously abuse them.

Because the Halloween season seems to spark violence against cats in general and black cats in particular, many shelters refuse to allow the adoption of black cats during the month of October. Unfortunately, this does not protect cats that are normally outside from would-be sadists and other miscreants at Halloween-time.

Felines face additional dangers during Halloween that typically do not occur with other holidays. On Halloween night, there are great numbers of people outside, including children who may be quite rowdy on this occasion. Teens and adults attending or returning home from Halloween parties may be emboldened by the role-playing and faux-satanic nature of the event—and possibly the influence of alcohol—to commit acts of cruelty toward cats that otherwise might never cross their minds (or at least be stifled by common sense). Keep in mind that Halloween parties may take place throughout October and even early November.

Combine all these dangers with the increased traffic, noise, and shouting present on Halloween, and the great outdoors can turn into a very frightening, unsafe place for a cat.

Create a Haven for Your Cat During Halloween

So to keep your cat safe, all you have to do is keep your feline friend inside, right? Actually, not letting your cat out on and around Halloween is your first priority, but it's not enough. All the trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell over and over and yelling every time the door opens may scare the wits out of the bravest cat. Here's what you need to do to help ensure your cat's safety and comfort on Halloween:

If Your Cat Bolts

There are all sorts of reasons why a cat might dart out the door. Here are several precautions you should take well in advance of Halloween to minimize the chance of your cat wandering off and to help ensure that he quickly returns on his own, safe and sound.

When you have guests in your home, consider implementing the following strategies:

If your cat does get out, here's what to do:

If you live in an apartment or condominium complex and your front door does not lead directly to the outside, the risks if your cat gets out are reduced but certainly not eliminated; all the aforementioned safety precautions are still recommended. If you live in a high-rise, have a balcony, and throw a party, it is crucial that your cat be kept securely in a safe room for the duration of the party.

At the End of the Day

After the commotion has died down and you've put all the dangerous stuff away, give your cat a hug or chin scratch for being such a good kitty and putting up with all the loud, strange humans. Let him sniff around the house and reclaim his territory. He may want to indulge in some play to relieve pent-up stress.

Going Forward

The outdoors holds many amusements for your cat, but danger is lurking as well—and not only on Halloween. Cats are safer living indoors. You may want to make Halloween an opportunity to turn your outdoor cat into an indoor feline and secure him safety forever, not just on this holiday. Make the indoor environment compelling from your kitty's point of view. Fill your home with sturdy scratching posts, comfy perches at different heights (with scenic views), and interesting hiding places. Engage in daily interactive play for your cat's mental stimulation and physical exercise. Knowing your cat is safe and happy inside with you is the best treat you can give yourself and your feline this Halloween season.

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