Halloween & Black Cats: Kitty Myth-Teries Explained

It’s one of my favorite times of year. My book CAT LIFE includes fun Halloween and black cat myths. These are fun spooky stories to shiver over, but loving cats and dispelling kitty myth-teries should happen all year long.

black cat myths

An early color mutation of wild cats was the solid black color–and also was apparently associated with cats being “friendlier.”

Take a look and keep a tally of just how many of these spooky cat tails—and tales—from around the world sound familiar even today. Of course, you want to keep all your pets safe over Halloween. But it’s sure fun to read about ghosties and goblins, especially of the feline kind. More of these fascinating cat tales can be found in my newest book CAT LIFE: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat.

NOTE: Due to the #$%^! pandemic, shipping of physical books come with delays so order NOW for holiday gift-giving. Shoot me an email if you’d like me to send you a paw-tograph to insert into a special gift. *s* In fact, the hardcover version is on sale here.

Cats As Gods (Even Black Cats!)

Egyptians loved and revered all animals, and considered many to be emissaries of gods. The large wild cats including leopards and lions represented virility and power, but the common housecat came to be worshiped as a god of pleasure and happiness. Called alternately Bast, Bastet and Pasht, this human-shaped goddess (with a cat head) rose to prominence in the ancient city of Bubastis, and her temple cats (much like the one sleeping in your lap) were considered emissaries of the goddess.

The name “Bast” can be translated as “the tearer” or “the render” which referred to the goddess’s nightly battle with the sun’s mortal enemy, the Serpent of Darkness. Bast was symbolized by the moon—which waxed and waned like the cat’s eye—and each day when the battle was won, the sun rose again.

Egypt’s cats were protected and cherished by the priests, and each whisker-twitch and tail-dance was carefully interpreted as messages from the goddess. Because they were so sacred, other countries took advantage of the fact. The Persian King Cambyses II had his soldiers use kitties as shields, and because the Egyptians refused to risk hurting a sacred cat, they offered no resistance and the battle was lost.

Black kitten on red cat tree.

Cats love being put on a pedestal!

Cats Revered Around The World

Buddhist, Burmese and Siamese cultures had similar beliefs as the ancient Babylonians that cats served as sacred vessels for human souls to attain paradise. When a holy person died, the cat hosted the spirit for as long as the cat lived, and then carried the human soul into Paradise when the cat died. Wow, maybe that’s why my Siamese wannabe Seren-dipity has such a high-and-mighty c’attitude.

Cats in Japan were greatly honored and in AD 600 served as guards to precious manuscripts housed in pagodas. They believed a cat crossing the path was good luck. Cats were valued so highly in the 10th century that common folks weren’t allowed to keep cats. Only noble families were granted that privilege.

In early Ireland, a cat-headed god was worshipped during the 1st century AD. Black cats crossing your path was considered good luck during the Middle Ages in Britain, and a black cat was also supposed to be able to cure epilepsy. Scandinavia also celebrated animals in religion. Freya, the Viking goddess of love and beauty, rode in a chariot drawn by “the most affectionate of all domestic animals, the cat.”

Some folks believe this

Some folks believe this “throne” is more appropriate for devil cats!

Cats As Demons

The gods and angels of earlier religions become the demons of later ones. So since cats had been celebrated by early civilizations, they became the scapegoats of ‘modern’ religions.

A Medieval legend recounts that the Devil tried to copy God and create man, but only managed to produce a sorry, skinless animal—the cat. St. Peter felt sorry for the pitiful creature, though, and generously gave it a fur coat—its one and only valuable possession.

Hebrew folklore prompted the legend that cats steal an infant’s breath. The story may have stemmed from tales of Adam’s hated first wife, the vampire Lilith. She assumed the form of a gigantic ebony cat called El Broosha, and newborns were her favorite prey.

Cats became associated with witchcraft and the devil during the Middle Ages in Europe and suffered greatly. Tales of feline familiars were common. In Europe and early America, black cats became linked to the devil and evil and were feared, because black was the color of the night and darkness—hence the devil.

Many religions include cats (and dogs) in their history. Do pets go to heaven? This post considers the question. 

black cat under bed

Black cats deserve to come out of the shadows and into our laps!

Why Cats Get Blamed?

Because of the cat’s unique sensory capabilities, feline behavior foibles have given cats a bad reputation. Cats were thought to influence the weather, especially storms at sea. Today we know that felines can detect changes in barometric pressure, silent earth tremors that announce future earthquakes, or yowling just before a loved one dies.

Superstitious people found it easy to blame the cat as a cause of disasters, rather than celebrate kitty’s unique detection skills at predicting such things. But that doesn’t make the cat’s mysterious abilities any less extraordinary.

Today, some cat haters continue to point fingers particularly at feral cats. It’s up to responsible cat parents to take proper care of their feline family members (including community cats!).

cat-smileDo your cats dress up for Halloween? Image Copr. JT Seimer/Flickr

Do you share your life with a black cat? Have your cats ever seemed “other-worldly” or acted in a spooky way? What kinds of ghostly Halloween-like antics have you and your cats (and dogs!) experienced? Will they dress up this Halloween, or prefer to go “au naturelle?” Do tell!

Here’s a fun post about ghost pets, including a visitation from my beloved Bravo-Dawg. Check out the Howl-oween pet safety and costume tips in this TV segment, too.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Halloween Pets Safety: Protect Pets from Halloween Goblins

Halloween pet safety is needed every year. With the pandemic, many of the traditional trick or treating visits changed but l locally in North Texas (Sherman, new events this year entertain the kids while keeping them safe. There’s also a pet Halloween costume event in Denison on October 30th, but we want our pets to also stay safe from goblins and other dangers. Learn how to get pets to accept costumes in this post.

Halloween at its best is a night of mystery, fun, and thrills for human children and many adults. It’s important to keep your human kiddoes safe with these tips, but no less important for the pets. I write about Halloween pets safety every year because it can be a nightmare for your furry kids.

Halloween catsWhy Pets Hate Halloween

The calmest, most laid-back pet may get his tail in a twist when masked villains with flapping capes ring the front doorbell. Cats and dogs identify friends and family not only by scent, but also by appearance. Remember how King barks and growls and doesn’t recognize Uncle Jerry when he wears that baseball cap? Just imagine how King will react to a rubber mask that covers the neighbor child’s face!

Stranger danger can turn confident pets into nervous wrecks. If you know trick or treaters will visit, prepare your pets and put safety first–for you AND the kids. After all, you don’t want frightened pets to lash out at well-meaning kids.

halloween

Halloween Pets Safety

Dogs faced with unfamiliar people, especially if they wear “scary” outfits and carry objects that look dangerous (like a noisy bag, a flashlight, or “pumpkin” goody bucket), may react with fear. A fear reaction reduces some poor dogs to hiding under the bed. Other dogs attack the frightening intruder.

Cats more typically become scared and hide from anything that’s new and different. Hiding under the bed is bad enough, but it can turn dangerous if the cat or dog runs out the door and is lost, hit by a car, or injured by other animals.

How to Protect Halloween Pets & Kids

Save your sanity and give your pets peace of mind by confining them in a safe room on Halloween night. That way, they aren’t tempted to bark at each doorbell ring, or dash outside. You don’t want them scared—or to scare others—on this night and spoil the fun for everyone.

If your children plan to visit homes where you know pets reside, call ahead. Ask neighbors about confining their pets for all the reasons mentioned here. If you aren’t sure of the pet status at a particular house, why not skip that visit to be safe. Just as you don’t want your child frightened or injured, neither do you want to be responsible for a beloved pet becoming lost.

halloweenKeep Pets Safe Inside

I strongly urge that ALL cats and dogs be confined indoors on Halloween night, even if you don’t expect trick-or-treaters. For outdoor cats and dogs, shutting them up in the garage for a few nights before the holiday could save their lives.

It’s not a bad idea to confine cats—especially solid black and solid white kitties—for up to a week leading up to the holiday. There are some truly sick “demons” that do mean, nasty things to pets at this time of the year.

Tips from a Toronto Dog Expert

L-R: Power, Prophet, and Grail (in the rear). (Image copr. Victoria Vidal-Ribas and The Army of Darkness)

My Facebook friend Victoria Vidal-Ribas offered these additional tips she uses with her dogs (aka the Army of Darkness), and I loved ’em so much, she gave me permission to add them here.

Hi Amy, a few thoughts from North of 49. Unfortunately, because of the plague, Toronto has recommended no trick or treating but in previous years we have used the following tools at Army HQ successfully.

The first and most important thing is that once trick or treating starts I do not close the front door (it has a barrier). This prevents knocking and attendant barking. Within a very few minutes, the dogs figure out that littles will be visiting and they don’t feel the need to defend the house because there is no knocking and no barrier frustration.

I have a tall baby gate outside across my front door. This is because in previous years I have lived with hardcore bolters. The dogs are used to receiving visitors like delivery guys, workers, etc., and visiting through the gate. I now have a gate up permanently because it gives such security.

The gate keeps littles and puppies safely distant from another.

Because some of my dogs are ridiculously fond of humans they can hand out kisses through the gate bars if kisses are wanted or to receive pats. The dogs who are less fond of humans simply repair to the living room for the duration. No one is forced to participate.

Now my dogs are accustomed to doing meet and greets at shows etc., through expen bars so this is not a new behaviour for them.

Beware Halloween Pets & Candy

Remember that the days before and after Halloween offer indoor temptations that also pose dangers, especially for sweet-toothed dogs. Keep candy out of reach, in latched cupboards, to keep your canine glutton from over-indulging. One year my shepherd managed to climb onto the kitchen table, and empty a bowl filled with suckers—only the paper and gnawed sticks remained, scattered all over the carpet. While eating any sort of candy in excess may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea, and can wreak havoc on pet teeth, chocolate is particularly dangerous. Too much chocolate causes toxicity that may kill your pet. Prevention is best, but first-aid can help stricken pets feel better.

Avoid these dangers by planning ahead. Let your pets do “tricks” for their “treats” the rest of the year—give them Halloween night off in a safe room of their own.


I love hearing from you, so please share your comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

The Dog Who Came To Christmas: True Stories of the Gifts Dogs Bring

It’s release day for a delightful holiday book, THE DOG WHO CAME TO CHRISTMAS. After two of the hardest years we’ve faced, true stories in this anthology bring smiles, virtual tail wags, and (dare I say?) some furry love to heal the bruises of the past.

the dog who came to christmasTHE DOG WHO CAME TO CHRISTMAS

I’m delighted to be included in this collection of 29 true stories holiday cheer. My story takes you back to the dog who inspired my pet-writing career–and converted my husband into a pet lover. Our first German Shepherd saved me in so many ways and taught lessons with a cheerful wag–but don’t all dogs do that? Of course, they do!

the dog who came to christmas

An Experienced Award-Winning Editor

Thank you to my friend and colleague Callie Smith Grant for inviting me to contribute and revisit that special canine who still lives in my heart. Callie selected the stories for the book and edited the anthology. She is the author of many published animal stories and several biographies, and she is the editor of the anthologies Second-Chance Dogs (awarded the Maxwell Medallion from Dog Writers Association of America), Second-Chance CatsThe Horse of My DreamsThe Horse of My HeartThe Dog Next DoorThe Cat in the WindowThe Dog at My Feet, and The Cat in My Lap. I know you’re going to love this book, too.

A Collaboration of Dog Lovers

I see many familiar names in the list of authors, among them Lisa Begin-Kruysman, Denise Fleck, Marci Kladnik, and Susan C. Willett. Others are new to me, and I can’t wait to read them all!

the dog who came to christmas

What a great opportunity to treat yourself–or your pet-loving friends! I can’t wait to read the stories (probably will read them to Shadow-Pup, cuz he loves a good story).

You can read an excerpt here.

And you can purchase your copy (Ebook, paperback, audio, hardcover) on Amazon here, or other places fine books are sold.

Interested in more dog books for gifting to your canine-loving friends? Check out these hardcover dog books on sale now!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

BITE Prevention for Halloween: 9 Ways to Keep Fangs At Bay

Have you thought about dog bite Halloween safety? and I’m not talking about vampires, either. Many dogs enjoy the howl-idays. But dogs biting kids happens more often at this time of year than any other.

This is a timely subject so I try to revisit the information every year. I write about this every year because it’s so darned important. With Halloween in the offing, this is the perfect time to brush up on dog safety issues and protect your kids, too.

To give equal time, there are many kitty-centric Halloween myth-teries you’ll find fascinating, especially about black cats.

While nonstop doorbell rings and visitors showering attention may be doggy bliss for your pet, even friendly laid back pooches get their tails in a twist over the disruption to routine. That can be dangerous for the pet—and for the human. Learn more about dog bites and kid safety here.

Halloween Witch

TO KNOW US IS TO SMELL US…

Dogs recognize people by smell but also by sight. He may not recognize a favorite human behind that Halloween mask. Miniature goblins, witches and other ghoulish visitors often are strange children he won’t know. A flowing cape or sparkly fairy wings can be scary. A frightened dog easily mistakes a waving “light saber” or pitchfork as a weapon aimed to hurt.

Halloween is a high-risk holiday for dog bites with children in costumes that scare dogs encountering strange pets on their own turf. And when hero dogs defend themselves, their homes and their people from “space aliens” your child could get bitten. Wolfbane, garlic and holy water won’t help but these tips can keep trick or treaters safe and the dogs happy, too.

devil dog for halloween with owner

9 Tips To Prevent Halloween Dogs Biting Kids

  • Call Ahead. It’s best to plan trick or treat visits with people you know—and ask them about confining their dog before you arrive. Pet “parents” want to keep their “fur-kids” safe, too, and should appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • Keep Doors Clear. Closed spaces and especially entryways get dogs excited. Your pet will be hyper-protective of doors and gates. So when the kids arrive, keep King in his own room. Advise your children to avoid entering a stranger’s gated fence when a dog is inside—that keeps him from escaping, too.
  • Admire From A Distance. Costumed kids should not approach, touch or play with any dog they don’t know. Even a known pet may be suspicious of a three-foot Sponge-Bob. Cute dogs may be friendly but swipe candy or knock down a toddler.
  • Supervise. There’s nothing better than parents eyeballing their kids and dogs. An adult should always be present when kids and dogs mix. Petting any dog requires permission first from the person who knows the dog best.
  • Ask Before Treating. Candy can be dangerous for dogs. And some owners may not want you to treat their dog with food rewards, either, so always ask. Offering a treat to an unknown dog might tell him you’re a walking smorgasbord open for business so he pesters you—or mugs you—for the trick or treat bag.
prevent dog bites with common sense

Don’t tempt fate! How stooopid is this?

  • Look Away. Should you notice a strange dog, don’t stare. In dog language that can challenge a dog to show you the sharp ends of his teeth.
  • Be A Tree. Loud giggly voices, running, and arm waving can be so exciting to dogs they chase kids out of reflex and perhaps knock them down. So if a strange dog does approach standing still—like a tree—helps keep him calm.
  • Be A Log. Dogs instinctively jump up to check out a human’s face, and that Halloween mask may prove too intriguing. But if your child gets knocked down, coach her to act like a log—roll up and be still—until the dog goes away. Otherwise, a wriggling kid teases the dog to grab the costume—or an ankle—and play tug.
  • Avoid Doggy Gangs. Just like rambunctious kids, when a bunch of friendly well-behaved dogs get together they can egg each other on and paw-step over the line. So give doggy gangs some space. If their approach concerns you, don’t run or yell—stay still. You can sacrifice the candy by throwing it far enough away to entice them to munch while you walk away.

DOGS AREN’T PERFECT–NEITHER ARE HUMANS

Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year with 800,000 individuals—half of them children—requiring medical treatment. Half of all children in the US experience a dog bite by age 12, with 5 to 9-year-olds and boys at significantly higher risk. That’s actually a low percentage compared to other types of injuries, but still scary enough for Halloween. Use these tips and avoid adding to the statistics.


I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Halloween Pet Costumes: How to Dress Dogs in Costumes

Do you enjoy dressing up the house—and yourself—for the holidays? If you want to include Halloween pet costumes, start now to get them used to the notion. Most of the costumes don’t fit Bravo-Dawg, and I’ve not yet tried Shadow-Pup. I’ll share pictures if/when that happens.

Meanwhile, be sure to keep pets safe over Halloween, though. Dogs and cats aren’t always fans of wearing Halloween costumes, but with these tips, you can help pets accept the notion.

halloween dog clown & rabbitHalloween Pet Costumes

Some pets enjoy dressing up, particularly the small dogs already used to wearing coats and sweaters in cool weather. There are many pet costumes available from pet products stores, from fancy to plain. If your outgoing, confident pet is willing, you can have great fun with costumes. But if your pets don’t care for dress up, don’t press it. Many pets may bite over Halloween out of fear of change.

Even reluctant pets may be persuaded to wear a fancy collar or bandana or painted toenails. There are “jester” collars for cats complete with bells on each point. You can also purchase the Soft Paws nail protectors for cats or dogs in Halloween orange and black–a fashion statement that also keeps clawing furniture or doors under control. Just remember to supervise costumed pets at all times to make sure they don’t get tangled up, or chew off and swallow a dangly part of the costume.

Not all pets enjoy wearing costumes. Cats generally are not good candidates. Karma-Kat isn’t a fan of his halter-jacket, although he has never objected to his collar and tags. I think that’s one reason cats cultivate their Halloween mystique, so we’ll leave them alone! Still, it can be helpful for you to know how to teach “costume acceptance” because the same tricks apply if someday your cat or dog needs to wear a bandage, for example.

hat cat halloween

Black cats are tied to Halloween. Learn about black cat myth-teries in this post!

Why Dogs & Cats Hate Halloween Costumes

Staring at a pet can be off-putting because in cat/dog language a stare is a challenge—so costumes that invite admiring glances could cause problems. You know your pet best so don’t force the issue if he’s a homebody and prefers to go au natural. Most pets prefer staying home or even retreating to a hiding spot when the doorbell repeatedly announces goblins.

Reserve the fancy capes, antlers and such for more willing dogs. Some of the more creative costumes include added on “arms” carrying a fireman’s hose, for example. Bravo is one of the most easy-going dogs I’ve ever known, and I’ve ordered him a lion wig-and-mane (stay tuned for pictures on the blog!). I suspect like most dogs he’ll need to be supervised or he’ll try to eat the costume.

Princess costumes, Star Wars characters, chicken outfits, ‘hot dog bun’ getups, and Shrek costumes are available. But even these tolerant dogs and cats should be gradually introduced to the notion. If you want your pet to tolerate a Halloween costume this year, start now so he’ll be ready by the holiday.

Pet costumes should be fitted the same as for children–make sure the costume doesn’t restrict movement, vision, hearing or ability to breathe. Be sure to measure your pet’s girth around the neck, chest and waist and look for specifics on the costume sizing for an accurate fit.

dog costume pirateHow to Dress Dogs in Costumes

Start by simply letting your dog sniff and examine the costume. Set it out on the floor, point it out to him, and offer some tasty treats when he sniffs it. Do this for the first half a day. After he associates the costume with treats, drape part of the costume over his back for 10 seconds. Again praise and treat him for calm behavior. Increase the amount of time it’s left on his back, giving him a treat and praise each time. Repeat this for at least two days.

dog halloween costumeThe third day, put the costume on for the first time. Let him roll around, sniff, and explore how it feels to move, all the while encouraging him with treats and praise. Take it off after a minute, and put away the treats. Put the costume back on half a dozen times, leaving it on a bit longer each time, and offering plenty of treats and praise. Encourage him to walk around while wearing it, so he knows that it doesn’t restrict movement. When you take the costume off, the treats should go away.

Continue practicing wearing the costume for longer and longer periods of time. Enlist a friend to help, so that once the costume goes on, your friend offers the treats. This helps him know that even strangers are willing to feed a costume-wearing pooch.

Human Halloween Costumes & Pets

It’s also a good idea for you to wear your costume around your dog or cat ahead of time—if you plan to dress up. Cats and dogs identify friendly people not only by scent but also by appearance, the way they walk and the sound of their voices. It doesn’t take much to turn humans into monsters in the eyes of your pets–just a hat does it for some. Make sure your pets know it’s you under that cape or mask. Learn more about Halloween pet safety here.

Halloween costumes

Wearing my Audrey Two costume from Little House of Horrors!

Have fun this Halloween, but be safe, so that all involved have a great howl-iday celebration. What about YOUR cats and dogs. Do you dress them up for Halloween? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!