Tag: Halloween

Guy Kicks Girlfriend Out After She Admits To Tossing Cat Outside

Reddit’s “Am I The Asshole?” is described as a “catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you.” It’s also a goldmine for people who wish they could read an advice columnist’s slush pile.

On Tuesday, a user asked the community if he’s “the asshole” for kicking his girlfriend out of his home after she tried to get rid of the kitty by “pick[ing] him up and put[ting] him outside to wander off.” Here’s the full post:

According to the OP, his cat didn’t do anything to prompt his girlfriend from booting the little guy.

“She knows he can’t survive outside… She didn’t seem to have any regrets about her actions and no, she never lived with cats before,” the poster added in response to follow-up questions from the community. “She said she couldn’t stand cats and that she couldn’t live with one.”

A few users pointed out that kicking a house cat with no survival skills out of a home is not only dangerous, but kicking a black cat out on or near Halloween could have tragic consequences. As for the original poster, he says he’s placed Raven in the temporary care of a friend until his girlfriend moves out, as he’s worried she might try to hurt the cat — or throw him out again — out of spite.

Others said he was doing the right thing even if Raven wasn’t in danger.

“If she thinks it’s acceptable to do that with something as important as a pet, then she thinks she can do that with any aspect of your life she doesn’t like,” one user wrote. “The cat is important, but almost irrelevant in the scope of red flags she’s throwing out.”

For whatever reason, even though women are more likely to be cat caretakers than men — and men are statistically more likely to take their relationship frustration out on pets, especially cats — the last few viral stories about relationship conflicts over cats have implicated women. Obviously if the situation had been reversed, the boyfriend should have been thrown out, or the girlfriend should have left with her cat. Gender isn’t the issue here: The issue is jerks who take their frustrations out on innocent animals.

Why Scaring Cats Isn’t Funny

Whether they’re surreptitiously placing cucumbers behind their cats’ backs while the kitties are eating or filming their felines’ terrified reactions to Halloween props, some people apparently love scaring their furry friends.

Since many of the resulting videos go viral, people hungry for online fame have even more incentive to “prank” their cats as they chase clicks. The result is potentially thousands of house cats terrorized by people with ambitions of being the next TikTok or YouTube star.

On the surface, the way cats respond to being startled might seem comical. The term “scaredy cat” didn’t manifest out of nothingness, and cats who are truly frightened have a cartoonish way of leaping back and pumping their little legs while they’re still in the air like Looney Tunes characters.

But when you think about it from your cat’s perspective, in the context of feline evolution and psychology, the cruelty of scaring a cat for “lulz” becomes obvious.

Screenshot 2021-11-01 at 08-48-55 245 jpg (WEBP Image, 1200 × 800 pixels)

First, cats are ambush predators. It’s why they love boxes, why they do the adorable crouch-and-butt-wiggle routine before pouncing on their toys, and why they like vantage points where they can see but not be seen.

They particularly dislike surprises, which is why they bolt. Cats are supposed to get the jump on other animals, not the other way around. The impulse to flee as quickly as possible — and return unseen — is hardwired into the feline brain, as natural to them as burying their poop or kneading when they feel content. Because domestic cats are small and can be predator and prey, that impulse is even stronger, but it also exists in 500-pound tigers or 200-pound jaguars.

So when you intentionally frighten your cat with an object that will be perceived, however briefly, as a predator, you’re triggering a fight-or-flight response, a rush of adrenaline and fear.

catwiggle

However, scaring a cat in its own territory (your home) or in a place he or she feels especially secure (feeding areas) adds another layer. A cat walking around outside will be naturally wary, but if you’re giving your cat a good home, as well as the love and space she deserves, she’ll feel comfortable. She’s on her home turf, in a closed environment where threats don’t pop up unexpectedly.

When a cat turns around after enjoying some yums and sees a cucumber, her hardwiring takes over, she registers the intrusive vegetable as a snake and goes into flight mode, scrambling to get away as fast as possible. It’s not just that kitty’s shocked or can get hurt scurrying away from a perceived threat, it’s also the inherent cruelty in teaching your cat that the place she thought was absolutely safe from intruders may not be.

We’re not immune to this kind of conditioning ourselves. If you settle down for a nap one day and your spouse, a sibling or a friend thinks it’s funny to wake you by dropping an ice cold bucket of water on your face, will you feel comfortable dozing off on the couch next time?

Trust is implicit in our relationships with our cats. If we abuse that trust, especially for something as meaningless as social media likes, we’re endangering our human-feline friendships and making our cats feel unsafe in their own homes.

I Was A Good Boy On Halloween, Now Give Me Snacks!

Bud won’t tolerate a costume and I wouldn’t make him wear one, but he’s cool with wearing a festive scarf courtesy of my mom, who insists she doesn’t like him but somehow ends up buying stuff for him.

The cool thing about having an unusually curious and friendly cat is that he dashes to the door like a dog whenever someone knocks. Halloween is no exception, and Bud has been helping me hand out candy since he was a kitten.

When trick or treaters come by, the little guy can’t wait to see who’s in the other side of the door. He sits on the threshold and just takes it all in — the new people, the funny costumes, the strange human ritual that involves helping children get an epic sugar high and upset stomach.

For Bud it’s a night of excitement without any anxiety since no one’s actually stepping into his territory. They all keep a respectful distance, like supplicants with an audience before a powerful but benevolent king, and in turn the king allows his servant to reward their fealty with gifts of candy.

Bud on Halloween
“Let’s just get this over with, human. Remember, you said I could have catnip AND extra yums if I wear this infernal scarf!”

Sadly Halloween was a dud this year even more than last year, which was our first pandemic All Hallow’s Eve. Living in an apartment building, especially on the first floor, usually means a steady stream of kids, but this year I had maybe six or seven knocks on the door, and the kids were trick or treating in ones and twos. (All kids are chaperoned by parents these days too. It makes me wonder how my brother and I — and our friends — survived as kids, going out into the big bad world ourselves to trick or treat!)

unrecognizable men in glowing halloween masks driving car at night
You’d think Halloween was Purge Night by how parents hover over their kids. Credit: Erik Mclean/Pexels.com

 

Dear Buddy: Can Cats Sense Ghosts?

Dear Buddy,

Can cats sense ghosts? My Mr. Cuddles sometimes stares at blank walls or gets up and starts zooming around the house for no apparent reason at 3 a.m.

I’m pretty sure he can see and sense ghosts. After all, what other explanation can there be for that kind of behavior? But since you’re the smartest cat in the world and an expert on everything, I thought I’d ask you first.

Thanks!

Ghost Believer in Great Britain


Dear Ghost Believer,

First I’d like to take the opportunity to set the record straight: I did NOT run screaming when I watched The Ring with my human, and I did NOT run to my litter box and cry when we watched Alien. Those are vicious lies invented by Los Gatos, the criminal catnip cartel, who will stop at nothing to discredit me. Now for the answer to your question:

According to Occam’s razor, “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Or to put it another way, “It is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.”

Consider, my friend, that the burden of proof rests with the person who claims ghosts exist. Not once in the history of humans — or cats — has anyone been able to provide legitimate evidence of the supernatural. In fact, the word supernatural itself precludes existence on the physical plane: If we can see it, hear it, smell it and feel it, it exists in the physical world, and therefore cannot be supernatural.

This is why, invariably, supernatural phenomena turn out to be things we just don’t understand yet, and by understanding them we remove all the mystery.

The sun isn’t a god riding a chariot across the sky, it’s a star and our world is caught in its orbit. Lightning isn’t an angry Zeus hurling bolts from Olympus, it’s an electrostatic discharge that produces a flash of extreme heat in the atmosphere, leading to a visible flash and a shockwave we call thunder. The Pythia at Delphi wasn’t an oracle who communed with the gods, she was just really, really high off gases that seeped up from a fault line beneath the temple.

Cat Zeus
“I am Cat Zeus! Fear me, for my lightning bolts are powerful and my epic beard is comprised of cats!”

So, too, do our odd feline behaviors have mundane explanations:

  • We can hear things you can’t hear. If you see us staring at blank walls, we’re probably engaged in deep thought (I like to ponder the Fermi paradox and quantum entanglement), or maybe we’re looking in the direction of a sound we can hear, but falls outside of your hearing range. (We felines can hear sounds up to 64,000 Hz, while your inferior human ears can’t catch anything above 20,000 Hz.) That means you may be oblivious to the mice chirping behind the wall, but we know all about them.
  • We can see things you can’t see. You think it’s pitch black? That’s cute. While you stumble around with your eyes useless in the dark, we can see just fine. In fact, even the tiniest sliver of light — an amount imperceptible to you — is enough for us to successfully navigate obstacles in a room or catch movement in our field of vision. You may think we’re pawing at invisible entities at bedtime, but really we’re just swatting flies in the dark.
  • We can feel micro-changes in air density. Our whiskers aren’t just about making us look good. They help us navigate tight spaces and they’re super-sensitive. How sensitive? They’re so packed with nerves and blood vessels at the base that they’re at least as sensitive as your fingertips! You can silently pass wind in the hallway and we’ll be aware of it in the bedroom as our whiskers register the tiniest shifts in air current. Your farts stink, by the way.
  • We can smell things you can’t smell. Speaking of stinky, did you know we have 200 million olfactory receptors? You humans only have five million. Who’s the superior species now, huh? You think we’re furry little wizards who can sense you coming home, or possess powers of precognition, but the truth is we just pick up your nasty Axe body spray from half a mile away. Ghosts don’t wear Axe body spray, or Curve, or Cool Water for that matter.

By now you should have noticed a common theme. You might have bigger brains than us because your heads are huge, but we know all about all sorts of good stuff happening around us while you humans remain oblivious to it. Heck, sometimes you don’t even see or hear things happening right in front of you because you’ve always got your faces buried in those stupid screens!

Buddy's Whiskers
Bud’s Whiskers: Stylish and functional!

If we did sense ghosts, you can be sure we’d meow at them for treats and demand they let us in the bathroom, but we don’t. Also, I personally wouldn’t be scared, but lesser cats might get freaked out if they see ghosts, and you’d know because they’d go all white and try to hide under the blankets.

Hope that clears things up!

Your friend,

Buddy

Why Do Some Shelters Refuse To Adopt Out Black Cats In October?

Life isn’t easy for strays and shelter cats, and black cats have it rougher than most. They’re less likely to find forever homes and more likely to be euthanized than cats with other fur colors and coat patterns.

As if that wasn’t enough of a disadvantage, black cats are particularly vulnerable at this time of year due to their association with Halloween and lore surrounding Satanic rituals.

On the somewhat less tragic end of the spectrum, some people “adopt” black cats as temporary Halloween decorations, using them as accessories for parties or decorative dioramas. When Halloween is over, the “owners” bring the cats back to the shelter.

But rescue groups and advocates say the most unfortunate black kitties end up in the hands of cultists or people reenacting cult rituals. Those rituals never end well for the poor felines.

As a result, some shelters and rescues put black cat adoptions on hold during October.

black cat holding persons arm
Credit: Ruca Souza/Pexels

The origin of the “evil black cat” trope is usually traced back to the 13th century papal decree called Vox in Rama. (“A voice in Ramah.”) Despite sounding like an Arthur C. Clarke short story, the decree was not entertaining — it called for a renewed push to find and punish heretics, and condemned a Satanic ritual that was allegedly performed among hidden cultists:

Afterwards, they sit down to a meal and when they have arisen from it, the certain statue, which is usual in a set of this kind, a black cat descends backwards, with its tail erect. First the novice, then the master, then each one of the order who are worthy and perfect, kiss the cat on its buttocks. Then each [returns] to his place and, speaking certain responses, they incline their heads toward to cat. “Forgive us!” says the master, and the one next to him repeats this, a third responding, “We know, master!” A fourth says “And we must obey.”

Stripped of context, it’s almost comical: A cat walks around and people line up to kiss its ass? Well, they’re just expressing their fealty as servants and vowing not to be tardy with kitty’s meals!

Alas we’re talking about the dark ages, a time when skepticism wasn’t really a thing and zealots were eager to prove their loyalty and value to powerful leaders. One of them, a German nobleman named Konrad von Marburg, had the pope’s ear, and Marburg was the one responsible for whispering to the pontiff about the supposed back cat ass-kissing rituals.

While the papal decree was real and Marburg really was an overzealous jerk who turned public opinion against the church for his brutal inquisition against heretics real and imagined, there’s debate about how much impact the decree ultimately had, and whether a resulting purge of felines from Europe during the Black Plague resulted from superstition or panic as more people got sick. (Serious academic opinion tends strongly toward the latter, particularly because people mistakenly believed cats were carriers of the disease.)

close up shot of a black cat
Credit: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

Clickbait sites have run wild with the Vox in Rama story, which has grown more outrageous with each retelling, resulting in headlines that make it sound like the Vatican dispatched shock troops to purge cats from the European continent and urged Catholics to slaughter them on sight. In reality, the papal bull dealt with a small area in Germany and was little-known even at the time it was issued.

The dozens of clickbait articles that surface at the top of search results for “Vox in Rama” omit the actual text of the papal bull, and many make the unfounded claim that the pope called for cats to be killed.

Was the decree real? Yes. Did it result in the slaughter of cats? Highly unlikely, and there’s no evidence to support that claim.

Likewise, the “evidence” that black cats are abused on Halloween is purely anecdotal as this Snopes story from 20 years ago notes. The fact-checking site called the claims about black cats used in Satanic rituals “inconclusive.”

But individual shelter managers trust their gut — and the many stories about black cats disappearing this time of year — in deciding it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why many shelters won’t adopt out in October and others are more rigorous with their adoption screening.

There’s nothing wrong with that. As anyone who’s searched for cat news knows, there are disturbing stories about cat abuse every day, and people are sadly capable of incredible cruelty toward animals.

Better for black cats to be taken off the adoptable list for a few weeks than end up in the hands of people who want to do them harm. As cat lovers, there is something we can do: Consider black cats the next time we’re looking to adopt. Plenty of PITB readers have black cats, and they’ll be the first to tell you the little house panthers are just as sweet and amusing as cats of any other fur color.

close up photo of black cat
Credit: Marcelo Chagas/Pexels