Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. It’s a holiday that synonymous with fun – and frights. While Halloween is fun for us humans who know that the tricks will always come with treats, for our furry family members, Halloween can seem all too real. With an often-overwhelming amount of strange people, smells, and costumes that turn people into monsters, Halloween can be a pretty spooky time for cats.
We aren’t aiming to cause paranoia, but we do think it’s wise for pet owners to know the potential dangers that holidays like Halloween can present for our favorite felines, especially those that might not seem obvious at first. Keep these “hidden dangers” in mind when it comes to Halloween so everyone can have a Happy Halloween!
While it seems obvious to keep your kids away from candles, what about your fur kids? Cats are pretty smart and generally know to stay away from open flame, but a flickering candle inside a pumpkin could very well seem like a brand-new toy. Try opting for battery-operated lights or keeping your jack-o-lantern outside and out of reach of your kitty. This way you can happily set up your cat-o-lantern and take plenty of Halloween photo shoots of your cat!
Keep an eye on your doors
If you have an indoor cat, Halloween is a perfect opportunity for them to accidentally slip outside, what with the coming and going of trick-or-treaters and the frequent opening and closing of the doors to dole out candies of all shapes and sizes. To ensure your cat stays put, designate a “safe room” for your cat, where you put their favorite food, treats, and toys where they can hunker down for the night. Put their favorite cat bed or blanket that has their scent on it already. This is also ideal for cats who are skittish around lots of loud noises (like all those kiddies screaming “Trick Or Treat!”).
In the event your cat does get outside, please make sure they have IDs and are microchipped - and that their microchip information is up-to-date with your contact information. This can greatly increase the chance that they will be found and returned to you if they do escape.
Forcing your cat into a costume
While dressing up your kitty for Halloween can be completely and utterly adorable and tons of fun to shop for things to get your cat, you never want to cause your cat undue stress or discomfort. While some cats are perfectly fine and dandy wearing a costume straight out of the box, others can become extremely stressed and upset by the process. And we want this holiday to be fun for everyone, cats included! So if you plan on dressing up your cat in a costume this Halloween, be sure to take steps to ensure that they are comfortable and happy wearing a costume. If you're not sure how to go about that, we've made a guide for how to get your cat used to its Halloween costume!
Much like the very true phrase ‘don’t give the dog chocolate,’ the same applies to cats! Chocolate and other artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, are extremely toxic to cats and other animals. The last place you want to be on Halloween (or any day) is the emergency vet. Make sure your candy is out of reach of curious, prying paws. The same goes for candy wrappers, too, which cats might view as toys but can be serious choking hazards. And if you’ve got kids, let them know not to feed the pets candy. And, hey, cats can’t even taste sweet treats!
Unfortunately, cats are often associated with Halloween – especially black cats. This can often make them targets for mean-spirited pranks on Halloween. Some shelters refuse to adopt out black cats on October 31st - or even all of October - for this reason. Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, says that these “black cat policies” are “based on urban myths [and] put pets at higher risk than they could ever be from people who’d adopt with ill intentions,” he says. This leads to overcrowded facilities or, in the case of no-kill shelters, puts the cats “at high risk of not being around when the ban is lifted.”
While it might be chalked up to urban legend, much like the “bad luck” that black cats bring, it’s still a good idea to keep your cats safely inside on such a busy, crowded night.