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Facts About Cat Sacrifices and Halloween

Did witches sacrifice black cats at Halloween. Why are cats sacrificed at Halloween. Who is killing cats. Why are people afraid of black cats? Did people really use to sacrifice cats at Halloween? Is it safe to let my cat outside at Halloween? Why do people sacrifice cats at Halloween? Do people torture black cats?

A lot of people have the mistaken belief that Halloween is associated with witches and cat sacrifice. This is a myth that should not be perpetuated any longer.

Halloween began as a pagan holiday, Samhain. Although animal slaughter was a common practice associated with this time, cat sacrifice never was. Eventually Samhain was given the Christian name of Halloween, and stories were told that the ancient pagans, and witches, use to sacrifice cats (particularly black cats) at this time – none of which is true!

Animal Slaughter

In the fall of each year the Celts would slaughter many of their livestock animals, particularly their older animals, sick animals, and ones that probably would not survive the winter. This was a common sense thing, that not only provided them with food, but meant less labor in terms of feeding and care for those animals over the harsher winter months.

Sometimes the skulls of those animals would be put on stakes to honor them. This was not a sacrifice. The animals were honored and consumed, not wasted.

Witchcraft

While the early Celts often played games involving predicting one's future, these were not consider to be witchcraft. It was the early Christians who considered fortune telling as a form of witchcraft. Even when we look at those people whom did consider themselves involved with the occult, as witches, we see they treasured these animals (typically black cats) and would never consider sacrificing them.

halloween cat

photo source

Cat Killing

Cats were being slaughtered though, just not by the people whom we are now often told, and not just at one time of the year. It Christians who made a point of killing cats, particularly black cats. Ironically the systematic killing of cats by fearful Christians is what allowed the plague to spread so quickly as it was carried by fleas on rats. When the plague first started killing people many blamed the cats, associating them with the devil himself due to their aloof behavior (unlike the loyal dog).

Christians were fearful of witches, they even felt that witches could turn into cats to sneak about at night. As such during the time of witch hunts Christians killed cats, often throwing innocent felines into the fire along with people accused of witchcraft.

Cat Slaughter

To say that people, other than Christians, did not kill cats is also false. When the pagans were killing their livestock animals they probably also practiced a population control on their cats and dogs. Even to this day farmers often kill excess cats by drowning them, shooting them, or by other means, but this is not a sacrifice.

Taghairm

Taghairm was never associated with Samhain, or Halloween, but was an animal sacrifice ritual practiced in Scotland that may have included cooking cats alive. The people who partook in this claimed to be devil worshipers, with the practice ending in the early 1800's.

Summary

From this we can learn that although we are often told that Halloween, witches, and black cat sacrifice, went hand in hand, it is not true. We should also learn that while so many people are fearful of black cats, perhaps it is the black cats who should be terrified of us!  Nonetheless, the time before Halloween is sadly not a safe time to let your cats go outside.

Learn more about Pet Safety at Halloween.

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Comments (8)

Great job!

Very interesting! I hope everyone protects their cats and that people realize animal sacrifice and abuse is wrong. Voted and promoted. Love the Halloween cat picture! : )

Very well said insightful article on animal slaughter for sacrifice, especially black cats (which is my favorite cat color), the photo is adorable.

Mathias

Its sad that cats were and sometimes still are so misunderstod.

Fascinating insight into folklore and practices.

Ranked #2 in Cats

I learned a lot from this. Indeed, cats have a reason to fear humans.

Thank you for pin pointing the ills of this ritual. Well detailed article.

Cie

Thank you for clearing up what the "animal sacrifice" associated with Samhain was. This was simply slaughtering of livestock which would have been done with or without a ritual component and was necessary in the type of agrarian society that the Celts and other people of those times lived in. People in those times really did not have the luxury of choosing to be vegetarian/vegan as one can choose to do in modern societies. It was not some sort of brutal bloodbath. It was simply a time of preparing to survive the winter.

Many people and animals were killed due to ignorance and intolerance during the dark ages. Sadly, there is still much intolerance regarding religion and spiritual beliefs today. It is no wonder that so many people feel that religion should be done away with entirely.

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