Halloween Memories and our True Black Cat Story
This is a True Story
For some reason, Halloween and witches and black cats have always been closely associated with one another. Most of it has no factual basis but old tales that have continued to have been handed down through the centuries perpetuate that notion.
I'll address the black cat story in a little while.
When I was growing up in the countryside of Wisconsin, it was a fairly unpopulated area and we did not have that many nearby neighbors for most of the years that we kids lived there. When my grandfather started selling some lots and homes started being built in what used to be a vacant field, we gradually had a few more houses to call upon when Halloween rolled around each year.
In those days (at least in the country) people did not spend much on ornate costumes. But I would venture to say that we had as much or possibly even more fun in getting dressed for that night of trick or treating.
Trick or Treat
We did not go to a store in those days and pick out a costume to wear.
Instead old sheets or cloths would be reworked to make up a crazy looking outfit and a major part of the transformation would be what was done to our faces.
Coal might have been used to blacken parts of our faces or other types of make-up applied to make us look appropriately different depending upon what or who we were trying to emulate.
The face painting was much more important than the costumes, because in most cases in central Wisconsin the Fall weather would have mandated being bundled up for the evening due to the coolness of the night air.
I am certain that my mother who was the primary decorator of our faces had as much fun as we did in getting them adorned with shades of her lipstick and rouge or whatever else she might have utilized.
At the end of the night we were always prepared for a good face scrubbing!
The faces my mother had with which to work her "magic" on Halloween.
We had very few houses to go to for the trick or treating and the meaning back then (at least where we lived) was different from today.
We kids had to perform a trick in order to get a treat!
What that meant is that we would have to sing a little song or recite a little poem or do some sleight of hand before we would be rewarded with the treats.
And of course the treats were different back then.
Homemade cookies or popcorn balls or candied apples were given as treats. Since my parents knew the handful of people where we would go on Halloween there was no danger of anything amiss with the homemade goodies given out to us.
While we may not have been rich in the sense of mountains of sweets collected I truly think that our experience of growing up in the country and feeling safe and secure and also having fun as a family on Halloween was worth much more.
I wouldn't trade it for anything!
That always fell to my Dad and he was a pumpkin carving expert at least in our opinions.
The project was always done at the kitchen table and it was quite the production.
After carving the top of the pumpkin and lifting the "hat" off, the insides were scooped out. Then my Dad would draw the design on the pumpkin and with sharp knife in hand he would begin the carving of the face.
Most of our pumpkins were happy characters with at least three to five teeth or more showing.
We kids would sit in rapt attention as the surgery was being completed offering suggestions as to how many teeth the pumpkin should have that particular year.
It was a fun family time.
Once the deed was accomplished, a candle would be put inside and tested.
We couldn't wait for it to get dark enough outside for our pumpkin to be lit and put on the front porch. It was admired every year as the finest piece of artistry.
Story of our Black Cat and Halloween.
Unfortunately for the cat that showed up delivering five kittens in our shrubbery in the front yard many years ago, she was black. Also judging from what the vet guessed as her age, she was a kitten or very young during the time of Halloween.
All we knew at the time was that she seemed very small. She seemed to be wild and had those five kittens to feed. We noticed that she only had one eye.
Once we discovered her, we decided to help. We started calling her Mama Kitty and the name stuck.
Mama Kitty continually threatened us with charges and hissing as we tried to help feed her and her kittens, but we persisted. I spent time out in the yard talking to her and slowly one of her kittens would respond to my voice and come to me to be cuddled and petted.
A few of the others would occasionally be able to be touched and petted, but this one black kitten eventually would rush out of the shrubbery at the sound of my voice every time she heard it.
She was the first to be placed in a home with people that I knew and who promised to have her spayed. I shed a few tears when that kitten that placed such trust in me had to be given away.
Eventually we found homes for all of Mama Kitty's kittens and then we borrowed a cage from the local SPCA and had her trapped. Poor thing! She must have been so frightened!
Importance of Spaying and Neutering Pets
We had Mama Kitty spayed and found out some bad news.
The vet informed us that Mama Kitty had not been born with one eye. It had been gouged out of her! She had also probably been strangled with damage to her vocal cords!
No wonder she did not trust people!!!
For all the many years that we continued to provide shelter and food for her, she never let us get close enough to pet her. We also never heard her meow which was probably due to the vocal cord damage.
We left our garage door cracked open so that she could get in and out at will. Food and bedding and even a heater in the winter was provided.
Nothing we could do erased from her memory the horror that had been done to her at the hands of people.
At least she had been spayed and would not bring more kittens into this world.
Mama Kitty touched our lives.
She lived a good long life and had some buddies who visited her on a daily basis. One of her favorite pals was named Walter.
Mama Kitty seldom ventured far from our house, backyard or the neighbor's yards on either side of us.
Frequently she was seen sunning herself on our roof.
We were happy to have provided her with a home, but saddened that because of Halloween and the evil doings of some kids or adults who tortured her, she remained damaged the rest of her life with regard to being able to fully trust people again.
Few if any animal shelters let black kittens or black cats be adopted anywhere around the season of Halloween. It is good to know that those precautions are taken but sad to think that they are even necessary.
Mama Kitty has now gone on to the "great beyond" where I hope that she is frolicking freely and without any constraints.
Have you ever taken care of a feral cat?
Do you agree that it is important to spay and neuter your pets?
Enjoy Halloween if that is your custom but please teach your children and others to be kind to the animals who also have a right to enjoy a happy life.
We still wish that we could have held Mama Kitty and cuddled her as we are able to do with our cats Dusty and Peaches who enrich our lives on a daily basis.
© 2009 Peggy Woods