To celebrate this Halloween, we at PugetPets grabbed our metaphorical Victorian grave-digger’s shovel hoping to unearth a host of scary pets. We searched the world, digging through myth, literature, legend and the silver screen to exhume the scariest pets of all time. Dogs, cats and even exotic pets from every age rose up zombie-like to form our scariest top ten. These PET-rifying pets provide proof: Not all fur babies are adorable!
Wait a minute, isn’t this list for Halloween? When it comes to scariest pets, it’s Christmas in October. Coming in at number ten on our list of scariest pets is Jólakötturinn, the Yule Cat from Icelandic folklore. A huge and vicious cat, Jólakötturinn is the house-pet of the giantess Grýla and her sons, the Yule Lads. This fearsome feline lurks about the snowy Icelandic countryside during Christmas time, stalking human prey. But put away that naughty list, Santa. Jólakötturinn isn’t looking for ill-behaved children. Instead, he likes to eat folks who have failed to put on nice, new clothes for Christmas Eve!
Keeping with the Nordic theme, number nine of our Top Ten Scariest Pets is Fenrir, the giant wolf-monster from old Norse mythology. Fenrir, the story goes, is prophesied to one day kill the god Odin and destroy order in the Universe. The gods decide to take matters into their own hands by binding Fenrir so he can’t escape. They employ some clever dwarves to craft a deceptively fragile-looking cord. Made of silk and magic (dwarf dust?), the unbreakable cord bears the name Gleipnir. Taking advantage of Fenrir’s pride, the gods challenge him to break a number of bonds. He does, of course, and with his ego thus inflated, they offer him the ultimate challenge. They dare him to let them bind him with Gleipnir.
Fenrir smells a trick, but his desire to prove his strength and courage gets the better of him. He agrees to be bound, on the condition that one of the gods must place his right hand in Fenrir’s mouth as a show of good-faith. The gods hesitate until one brave god named Tyr steps up to take one for the team. Tyr places his hand in Fenrir’s mouth. When Fenrir becomes aware that the gods have tricked him, he bites off the hand of Tyr. Tyr looses a hand, and poor Fenrir has to live in captivity until the great battle at the end of the world.
Our list of scariest pets wouldn’t be complete without a fluffy house-bunny, right? But beware, ye brave and trusty knights! In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a group of campy crusaders must face a terrible man-eating beast “with big, nasty pointy teeth” in order to gain passage to the famed Cave of Caerbannog. Imagine their surprise when a cuddly little white bunny appears to be guarding the Cave’s entrance, surrounded by grisly human remains. The ensuing rabbit-versus-knight blood bath is a comedy classic worth a place in our Top Ten.
In ancient Celtic folklore, an oversized black cat with a trademark white patch on her chest, called the Cat Sìth, stalked the night seeking souls to steal. At wakes and funerals, to protect the deceased’s soul, a variety of distractions kept the cat at bay. Loud music would scare her away. But you could also make sure there was catnip at the funeral and just keep her entertained instead. Only make sure you don’t burn a fire in a room with the corpse, since everybody knows cats love to curl up by a warm fireplace.
Each year, on the Gaelic festival of Samhain, the historical precursor to Halloween, people would leave out saucers of milk for Cat Sìth, and she’d bless the houses in return. However, if you didn’t leave a saucer of milk, the Cat would curse you, and all your cows’ milk would dry up. Even in modern times, many people claim to have caught glimpses of a labrador-sized black cat in the Scottish countryside. It seems Cat Sìth is a little like a Scottish Sasquatch.
A hallmark name in the annals of scariest pets, Cujo is the murderous St. Bernard in Stephen King’s novel of the same name. No supernatural forces animate this creepy canine, though, just a bad case of the rabies virus. The once lovable family pet goes on a vicious killing spree that, in a weird twist of poetic justice, involves a family getting trapped in a hot car, unable to escape. Cujo is eventually dispatched by the car’s owner, but King reminds us that he was really just a good dog with a bad bug.
The beast of this Sherlock Holmes classic comes in at number five on our list. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gets points for scaring us first with a ghoulish ghost-dog said to be a curse visited on a wealthy landowner’s family when their ancestor abducted a woman. But the creepiest twist is yet to come when the real murderer turns out to be a greedy would-be inheritor using a black attack-trained dog as his murder weapon.
One of the creepiest critters on the scariest pets list has to be Ben, the revenge-bent rat in the 1971 movie Willard (re-made in 2003). Anyone who’s kept a pet rat will tell you, they are super smart. In Willard, the rat’s IQ takes a terrifying turn. Willard, a lonely outcast, befriends the rats inhabiting his home. He is driven to seek revenge when his bullying boss murders his favorite rat, a white rat named Socrates. But his army of rats hosts a usurper, the rat Ben, who decides it should be he, not Willard, who leads the forces of rodent retribution. In the end, as the rats’ violence increases, Willard tries, but fails, to kill them, leaving the plot open for the 1972 sequel, Ben.
And for some real scary “scariest pets” Halloween trivia, how about this? The Willard sequel featured a theme song by Michael Jackson. The song, “Ben,” was nominated for an academy award for best original song. A creepy King of Pop song ten years before “Thriller.” Who knew?
Lying in wait at spot number three in our list of scariest pets is J.K. Rowling’s Aragog the Acromantula. Representing exotic pets, this giant blind spider was the cold-blooded companion of young Rubeus Hagrid in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Hagrid’s love for Aragog got him expelled from Hogwarts, but he refused to betray his friend, re-homing him in the Dark Forest. He also found him a mate to keep him company. Only one downside…the happy spider couple proceeded to reproduce, resulting in tens of thousands of acromantulings making the Dark Forest even darker.
The second scariest pet on our list comes to us from Japan. There, if your house cat lives to advanced old age, it may become a two-tailed demon cat called Nekomata. The Nekomata may run away into the forest to stalk human prey. Or it may choose to live in your home and wreak all manor of supernatural havoc before dragging you off and eating you. Nekomata are malevolent creatures that can use the power of their minds to control humans. But before you think elderly cats are getting a bad rap, it’s also said that if a cat is abused in life, it will eventually become a Nekomata and take revenge on its abuser.
And finally, guarding the number one spot on the PugetPets Top Ten Scariest Pets list, stands Cerberus. Cerberus is always multi-headed, but in his most popular form, he sports three ravening maws, snakes for tails and a taste for raw flesh. He is the loyal pet of Hades, the god of the Underworld. Cerberus guards the gates of the House of Hades, fawning on those who enter, but devouring those who try to leave.
While this “brazen-voiced hound of Hades” comes all the way from ancient Greek mythology, his image is still popular. There was a movie in 2005. A notable capital management company is named after the notorious Hellhound, and a line of MMA fight gear. He’s also the inspiration for another J.K. Rowlings terrifying terrier, triple-headed Fluffy. Oh, and yeah…there’s that Cerberus Halloween dog costume…just sayin’. Check it out here (along with other adorable pet costume ideas courtesy of Red Barn Pet Products).
With fearsome fangs and designs on the flesh of the dead (not to mention the three heads!), Cerberus is a hair-raising preternatural pet indeed. But we think his lasting-power throughout history is what really gives him the number one spot in our Top Ten Scariest Pets.
To learn about your real pets and Halloween, check out last year’s Halloween blog post here.