By Alisa Mullins
When my mom was a little girl, she had a favorite black cat named Midnight. He was one of more than a dozen former strays who had wandered into the family’s life, drawn by the abundance of cat food that was always set out on the front porch. Occasionally, one of the cats would mysteriously disappear, and my mom and her sister would comfort themselves with the unlikely scenario that the cat had “run away.”
But when Mom’s favorite, Midnight, went missing on Halloween, she knew in her bones that something terrible had happened to him. She searched for him for days, but it was no use—he was already dead. She finally found his body under the front porch. He had been tortured—probably by neighborhood boys up to “mischief”—and had dragged himself home to die. My mom learned a valuable lesson that day, and when she grew up, the handsome brown tabby our family adopted was kept indoors at all times.
Nowadays, most guardians know to keep their cats—especially black ones—inside on Halloween. Many animal shelters refuse to allow the adoption of black cats in the days preceding it, for fear that cruel people would acquire them with the intent to do them harm.
But the danger doesn’t pass once the last Twizzler has been handed out to the last Elsa or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Cats who are allowed to roam outside unattended are in danger every day of the year. The threats range from speeding cars and spilled antifreeze to stray dogs and cruel people who don’t like cats digging in their gardens or sitting on their cars. Recently, a Mississippi woman posted a photo on her Facebook page of a cat she had allegedly burned, threatening to “burn them one by one if I have to.”
Even in this day and age, there are people who think killing cats is “fun.” They brag and even laugh about it. They use cats for target practice, shooting at free-roaming cats as if they were clay pigeons rather than living, feeling beings. Just a few recent cases include cats who were shot with guns or crossbows in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. A cat in Massachusetts who was shot with a steel broadhead arrow (designed to inflict the maximum damage) was so badly injured that he had to be euthanized. He was just a year old.
In fact, the average lifespan of a cat who goes outside is just 2 to 5 years, a fraction of the 14-year average lifespan of an indoor cat.
Today’s concrete jungles are far too dangerous for such vulnerable little beings. Don’t learn a tragic lesson at your cat’s expense: Keep your cat indoors where it’s safe—on Halloween and every other day of the year.
By Alisa Mullins