Dear Einstein,

What the hey? Strange things are afoot. My humans are dressing up in odd clothes. The female has sprouted a tail and leopard spots. The male’s flesh looks like it’s falling off? People are ringing the doorbell. I just scratched a kid who looks like Hello Kitty. I’m scared out of my whiskers.

Drac the Impaler

Hide, Vlad,

It’s a zombie apocalypse. Halloween night, costumed goblins traipse up and down the neighborhood streets demanding candy and dispensing tricks to unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately, sometimes those victims are the family cat and unsuspecting strays.

In Medieval times, we kitties were associated with evil; as a result, centuries later All Hallows’ Eve has become a deadly time for cats.

Intentional cruelty to cats occurs every day of the year, but around the end of October incidences increase, as do unexplained disappearances of cats. Any cat can become a victim, but at most risk of being mistreated by hellions or cults are black, white, black, and white or dark tortoiseshells. Most people are aware of the Halloween threat, but other sacrificial days observed by cults are February 2, April 30, August 1, and the days of the changing of the seasons. While there is occult sacrifice of cats, most Halloween abuse occurs at the hands of individuals with a demented definition of fun.

Retired veterinarian Patricia Hague treated a cat with an arrow shot through its head. Another had been shot in the eye with a dart. "Both cats survived," she said. "I don’t see much of this, but I suspect that is because the animal dies and the body is never found."

Stay indoors, if you don’t already

The Humane Society of the United States recommends all cats stay inside at least one week before Halloween. To acclimate to living inside, come in at night for a few days. After a few nights indoors, it’s time to come inside 24/7 for a while.

And hey, as long as you’re inside for a week or two, why don’t you stay inside permanently where you’re safe from evil people, cars, and predators?

Kitties, especially outside kitties, should wear identification. On Halloween night, your humans should keep you in a safe room, away from open doors.

Otherwise, while your people are passing out candy, you may dart out an open door and into the oncoming path of a car or into the hands of someone with an agenda.

But Halloween treats are also a danger. Candy wrappers can be just as deadly as the wrath of a stranger. And chocolates are a definite no-no.

According to ASPCA/Animal Poison Control Center, chocolate can be deadly. Milk chocolate can affect a cat or dog like an overdose of amphetamines. Dark baker’s chocolate is even more dangerous. Chocolate contains a toxic substance called theobromine, which neither feline nor canine livers can metabolize. It causes vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances, and even death; although chocolate is a more serious danger to dogs because of their sweet tooth, it can kill cats or make them seriously ill.

You can even choke on hard candy, and wrappers can block your intestines. Kitties can also be poisoned by eating candy sweetened with xylitol. Instead, be safe and eat only treats made specifically for kitties.

If your human suspects you may have eaten chocolate, or any other toxic substance, call the Pet Poison Helpline. It’s your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency 24/7, 365 days a year. You can reach them at 800-213-6680. A $39 consultation fee may be applied to your human’s credit card.

Halloween Tips for Pet Owners

  • Bring all cats inside at least one week before Halloween. All black, all white, and mixed black and white cats are especially at risk. (Acclimate outdoor cats to the house a few days prior to total confinement by keeping them in at night.)
  • Under no circumstance should pets be left outside on Halloween night. Even dogs in an enclosed fence could suffer at the hands of a malicious prankster.
  • Halloween night, keep all pets away from doors.
  • Forget about walking the dog on Halloween night. Your pup doesn’t know that that latex monster mask is really the kid next door. (The incidents of dog bites increase dramatically on Halloween.)
  • Don’t feed either cats or dogs candy, especially chocolate because they can’t metabolize it; chocolate can kill or make them seriously ill.
  • Be conscious of where kids leave their candy and wrappers.
  • Make sure pets have identification just in case they get out.

Got a question for he who knows everything feline? Just Ask Einstein in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. (Letters don’t have to be written from the cat’s point of view.) Remember, any change in your cat’s behavior or activities could be a symptom of disease and should be investigated by your vet, even if it unfortunately involves glass tubes and cat posteriors.

Get more helpful Halloween tips:

Einstein’s assistant, Dusty Rainbolt ACCBC, is the vice president of the Cat Writers’ Association, editor-in-chief of AdoptAShelter.com, and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She’s the award-winning author of eight fiction and non-fiction books including her most recent paranormal mystery, Death Under the Crescent Moon.