Halloween is a spooky time that’s celebrated by almost everyone around the world. It’s a time when people get to dress up as their favorite monsters, when kids go door-to-door to ask for some candies, and when everyone sits in a circle telling each other scary stories.
However, it isn’t always just fun and games during this pumpkin-filled holiday. For some, Halloween is a time when they’re viewed with negative connotations to their names. This is especially true for cats, which are often portrayed as familiars, bringers of bad omen, and more. But how exactly did cats get associated with Halloween in this manner? What exactly is the uncanny and unfortunate connection that binds Halloween and cats together?
Ancient Egyptians and Cats
Now, there are a lot of theories out there as to why cats are constantly being linked to Halloween. This one doesn’t really tie both of them together, but some say that it serves as a catalyst. Ancient Egyptians used to worship a goddess named Bastet, also called as Bast, who had a cat’s head. Bast was believed to have a nightly battle with the Serpent of Darkness (the sun’s arch-nemesis). It’s theorised that the ancient Egyptian’s association with cats may have been carried over to our current notions about Halloween and our feline friends.
Tales of Superstition
Another reason why cats are somewhat synonymous with Halloween is thanks to the stories passed down from generation to generation. Superstitions about cats (especially the black ones) have circulated for thousands of years. Going back to ancient Egypt, they were once revered and thought of as Gods, but in medieval Europe, they were labeled as diabolical, and that they brought bad luck.
Witches and Familiars
Even weirder are the stories that tie witches and cats together. Witches (Wiccans) celebrate Halloween to honor the time of the year where “the Earth goes back to sleep,” which they call Samhain. It’s the time where they commemorate those who have passed away, kind of like making it the pagan counterpart of All Soul’s Day. In Wiccan calendar, October 31st is also the midway point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice (a time that signals the end of harvest and the beginning of winter), wherein practitioners dress up, eat Autumn-pertinent food with family and friends.
Things like dolls, needles, strange-looking cauldrons with green boiling liquids, and spell books aren’t really a thing. Black cats who happen to be familiars for witches, or in some versions wherein the witch morphs into a black cat, and casting out curses to everyone is also very much absent.
All this talk about cats and Halloween could’ve been easily chalked off as a fun, or even a cool way, to look at the holiday. Unfortunately, reports of animal abuse, reports of people avoiding cats in fear of getting bad luck, and a bunch of other things that misrepresent our feline companions have come up. Cats deserve to have a Halloween full of attention, love, and fun, not abuse and neglect. Let’s do our best to let them in on the festivity, and to make them feel happy.