Last night I posted to three cat-related groups about keeping kitties inside tonight. I received several thank-yous and a few people saying that cats are more in danger from cars and neighborhood thugs than from witches. Some people did follow up to those commenters and note that it's rarely self-identified witches who do such things. I tend to believe that those who say "Outdoor cats are always in danger, so no special warnings are warranted" are missing some information.
I am aware that cats are in danger at other times of the year -- heck, we have coyotes around here and two cats have been found maimed since Andy and I moved here. Of course they're careful to say it could be wild animals, but no wild animal I know is capable of inflicting the kind of wounds which killed the cats. Cars are always a problem, whether the drivers are intoxicated or not. Outside cats can get any one of several nasty and fatal feline diseases, even if inoculated since there is not yet an 100% foolproof vaccination. Even if they don't catch a communicable disease, outdoor cats can be grievously injured in fights with ferals. The list goes on, and I'm acutely aware of it, being somewhat paranoid as I am.
Still, every shelter in this area halted cat adoptions in mid-October and earlier. All of Kitty City's all-black cats were removed earlier this month. Other shelters across the country also stop adopting out in October as well. It would seem to me that all of these shelters cannot be over-reacting to some paranoid rumor. Heck, euthanizing shelters will have to kill more cats since strays don't stop being brought in just because the shelters aren't running adoptions. If they didn't perceive a greater threat to cats adopted out, they would keep up adoptions so they wouldn't have to put down as many animals.
I think anyone who cares about cats would agree that euthanization by people who care about the welfare of animals is imminently preferable to the way cats in so-called rituals are tortured. The fact that kill and no-kill shelters alike refuse to adopt out around Halloween is, to me, proof that this is an even more dangerous time for cats than other times of year, and thus my warning is warranted.
One thing which seemed to be assumed by some readers of the posts was that I meant "witches". This bugs me, since I very carefully worded my posts so as not to implicate any religion -- maybe I should have been more blunt and called the perpetrators "Serial killers in training". Having been a practising member of a Pagan religion at one point and still sticking to many tenets of that faith, I am acutely aware of being painted with the same brush as members of more violent sects.
Heck, I will even acknowledge that the old-time practicers of my chosen faith were involved in ritual sacrifices of animals and humans. I despise historical revisionism and I won't try to deny that ancient folks did some stuff which I would never dream of doing. On the other hand, if those who like to quote Leviticus when justifying the discrimination of a certain group of people would read more of the book, they would see several very specific laws regarding the sacrifice of animals. It's even very clearly laid-out as to which animals should be sacrificed for which occasions with vivid detail on how the animals should die and what should be done with their blood/remains. Just as religions which look to Leviticus have changed with the times and eliminated animal sacrifice, so have practicers of other ancient religions.
On a side note, those religions which follow the Talmud/Old Testament should not feel so smug about the human sacrifices practiced by members of Pagan religions. After all, when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-13), Abraham did not say "Holy ram, why are you suddenly accepting human sacrifice?" He instead prepared to do so, because up until the Isaac/holy ram incident, human sacrifices were made to the Judeo-Christian God. Also, there are later incidents of human sacrifice; for instance the army leader who promised in exchange for victory to sacrifice the first thing he came to at his home and who was subsequently greeted by his daughter (Judges 11:30-40). No angels or sheep came by to avert that sacrifice. So no, the early members of various Pagan sects were not the only groups to indulge in human sacrifice.
As mentioned before, cars, wild animals, and trick-or-treaters not being watched closely enough (read: at all) by their parents may well be a danger to animals tonight. The other danger, however, are self-identified members of certain faiths practising in isolation what they believe to be rituals of those faiths. I learned more about animal/human sacrifice from Chick tracts than I ever saw while practising my former religion. In fact, the only references I saw were acknowledgments that members of the group did, in fact, make live sacrifices, but that it is no longer in practice or even remotely acceptable today.
Unfortunately, those slime which will be harming animals tonight as part of a ritual have almost uniformly learned about the rituals through violent music and movies/television (This is not an opening for a diatribe on censoring "objectionable" material, so please don't take it as such) or, even more ironically, have learned it from the people who claim to be exposing Paganism. For instance, several Chick tracts give painstaking details of ritual sacrifices (by any number of Pagan sects and RPGers) which rebellious things may well emulate. Alarmist books, tv shows, and other means of dissemination are often very graphic in their depiction of what these evil scary conspiratorial Satanists are doing, and in being so give the slime step-by-step instructions.
While there may be some fringe religions which practice ritual animal/human sacrifice even today, for the most part the rituals of tonight will be committed by angry slime emulating what they think devil-worship entails. They will not be Druids, Wiccan, or other faiths which have evolved with the times. But even if they are isolated practitioners with no idea of what they're actually doing, they will be out to find and harm animals, especially cats, and especially all-black cats. People can ignore the warning because cats can be hurt any time of year and because the slimebags which will be doing the rituals are practicing a religion which only exists in the heads of some very disturbed people. I believe that this is naive at best and will simply give the slime more fodder to torture.
Gail and Heidi will be shut in the spare room (Which has a litterbox, fountain, toys, and will contain food as well) while there is any chance of trick-or-treaters. This is not because I'm paranoid about someone coming into the house to abduct one or both, but simply because cats don't like disruptions, and one or both might get confused and run outside.
I will also be spending my whole shift at Kitty City today and I may even go in early. I trust Clark's employees completely, but if there are a dozen customers at once they simply wouldn't notice someone removing a cat. I may well lock the door and/or limit the number of people allowed in at once. Maybe no one at all will come in, which means I'll be able to get some crosswords done. In any case, if any cats are harmed this Halloween I don't want it to be the result of my own negligence which is, in part, why I posted the warnings elsejournal.