Column: In praise of Halloween’s spookiest animals


Photo credit: Zoe Bush

A black cat named Tito, owned by a family friend of Zoe Bush '22, lays in a sink. Black cats are unfairly associated with witchcraft around the time of Halloween.

For most people, Halloween is a time of too much candy and chilling thrills. However, often forgotten in the excitement are the animals Halloween has labeled as “spooky.” Although Halloween is not the sole contributor to these animals’ negative stereotypes, it has certainly not boosted their reputations.

Take bats, for example. Bats are one of the first animals that come to mind when one thinks of Halloween. A person could safely assume that the bat’s evil reputation stems directly from vampires. The novel “Dracula” introduced the idea that a vampire can transform into a bat. This is possibly due to the fact that some species of bats, appropriately called vampire bats, are known to drink the blood of livestock and birds. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, I suppose!

However, only three out of over 1200 species of bats feed on blood—most bats prefer a diet of insects, fruit and pollen. Bats are also one of the leading pollinators globally, helping to ensure our fauna thrives. Bats deserve no hatred just because 0.25 percent of the species have unappealing appetites.

Along with bats, black cats are yet another culprit of widespread societal stigmas and are unfortunately tied in with Halloween culture. The fear of black cats started in the Middle Ages, when they were thought to be linked to the devil. People started spreading stories about witches turning into black cats. Because of this, many cats were killed alongside their supposed witch companions. The link between black cats and witches has lasted many centuries, and as long as people can market off black cats around Halloween, the stigma will remain.

Sadly, black cats suffer greatly due to these myths, and many shelters claim that black cats are less likely to be adopted. Additionally, many shelters will not adopt out black cats around Halloween in case the cat is tortured in an act of ritual sacrifice. I believe most of this would end if the stigmas around black cats were not so perpetuated by superstitions and scary stories during Halloween.

This Halloween, I urge you to befriend the bats and offer them a hand to perch on, and please don’t forget to pet any black cats that may cross your path.