Make black cat o'lanterns

Make your entry glow with fat Halloween cats made from stacked pumpkins (and mini-pumpkin paws)
Sheila Schmitz

Create a spooky trio of glossy black cats to watch over trick-or-treaters at your door. All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes ― long or pear-shaped for the body, small and round for the face.

More great ideas for pumpkins

At the pumpkin patch, look for body shapes with character and a stable base. They can lean to one side (like a cat on its haunches) but shouldn't wobble.

Choose a tall one for an elegant cat, or a squat orange heirloom for a chubby cat curled on its paws. Test a few "heads" until you find a good match.

This twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern cuts down on some of the usual pumpkin cleaning: No need to hollow out the body. Just clean out and carve the head, then add mini pumpkin paws, curvy cucumber tails, and ears from stiffened felt or black card stock from the craft store. Then, light the candle, get the candy, and watch your Halloween cats come to life.

Carve a cat pumpkin

Step 1: Cut out top of small pumpkin and scoop the inside clean. Place it upside down on the base pumpkin, turning to find a good fit. If necessary, carve opening slightly to adjust.

Step 2: Set head on the base to decide placement of eyes, then carve them out. You can draw them on first or use our template.

Step 3: Cut pointy ears out of felt or card stock and mark their positions on the head with a pen. Carve two shallow grooves into the head to hold the ears. Avoid cutting all the way through the pumpkin. (For more realistic ears, carve crescent-shaped grooves.)

Step 4: Prep an outside work area for spray painting. Stuff the head with loosely crumpled newspaper.

Cover pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and cucumber with one or two thin coats of black spray paint. Allow to dry. Remove stuffing and insert the ears.

Step 5: If the head is wobbly, gently pound a few floral picks into the body with the mallet or hammer. Measure the opening of the head, then position the picks to fit just inside.

Touch up paint if needed.

Step 6: Put a short tea light on a lid or dish to catch any drips. Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty. Attach the head. Position cat and arrange tail and paws next to body.

More: Halloween decorating and party guide