Halloween is fast approaching. Pumpkins abound, skeletons are in season—and Halloween black cats rule, featured front and center on everything from decorations to movies.

Our midnight-furred feline friends are also on the brain for another reason. When October 31st creeps around, you probably hear scary stories about black cats being in danger—especially if you’re one of the millions of people who have a black cat in your life.

It’s true that the demonization of black cats as “bad luck” is still far too common (and entirely untrue: my first cat, Monkey, was all black and brought me nothing but love and very good luck).

However, black cats are in no more danger on Halloween than any other time of the year. The chilling reality is countless cats are killed every day in animal shelters, regardless of the color of their fur.

Let’s clear away the cobwebs and shed some light on the dark matter. That means debunking the Halloween-time hearsay that distracts from feline perils that really are true.

Should Shelters Adopt Out Black Cats on Halloween?

There’s an old fear that black cats are usually adopted by people with bad intentions, especially around Halloween.  The fact is that many, many Americans are adopting black cats as you read this—and there is no evidence that a significant number of them mean harm.

If more people are eager to adopt a black cat during Halloween season, that’s nothing but a GOOD thing.

To ensure these beautiful cats go to the best possible homes, local shelters should embrace adoption best practices not only in October, but all year round. That includes keeping adoption affordable and accessible, spaying and neutering every cat before adoption, and having thorough uncomplicated process to help determine the best family fit.

Do People Really Hurt Black Cats More on Halloween?

I’ve heard people claim, just as you probably have, that black cats are widely hunted down, maimed, and even sacrificed in demonic rituals on Halloween night.

First, you should know that there is no data to support the notion that black cats, or any cats, are harmed more often on Halloween than any other day. In the disturbing cases in which cats have been attacked, those stories are powerfully imprinted on our memory. However, there is no evidence this is a widespread problem.

What ARE the Top Dangers to a Black Cat on Halloween?

The exact same dangers they face every single day in communities around the world. The true multi-headed monsters threatening cats are the lethal policies still in place in far too many communities and shelters.

Every day, cats of every fur color face a scenario straight out of a horror movie. They are snatched from their homes, caged in a stressful shelter environment, and killed rather than adopted or returned to their outdoor home.

And if on Halloween a black cat IS hunted and harmed, the celebration itself is not the real terror. Here’s a little-known skeleton in America’s closet: Most communities do not have strong enough laws related to cruelty to animals. And, law enforcement rarely conducts investigations into animal cruelty cases.

How DO We Protect Black Cats on Halloween?

The same way we protect them—and all cats—every day.

We need to advocate for our communities to have humane, lifesaving policies and programs in place that ensure positive – lifesaving – outcomes for companion animals AND community cats. We need to advocate that animal cruelty cases are investigated, prosecuted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law, which starts by making sure we report them effectively.

I can tell you from experience that local law enforcement DOES LISTEN when the people raise their voice and demand their communities respect and reflect their humane values.

So, the next time someone brings up disturbing rumors about black cats on Halloween, tell them the real horror story that may be going on right under their nose. Then, tell them not to give into fear, because we have the power to end the nightmare that is the killing of cats in shelters.