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Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. ~Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale
Left to Right: Palerma Palazzo Dei Moranii, 12th century cat with attitude; Lyon manuscript 6881 cat; Unknown cat lover; 14th century Book of Hours, Flanders, monk and cat. All the cat tiles.
Medieval and mythic themes were popular with William Morris and his circle. I currently have 48 medieval cat tiles available. I also have several sets of medieval and bestiary tiles listed here : bestiary (dogs, cats, unicorns, and dragons) and medieval gardens. You can mix and match from any of the sets. More tiles are added to these sets as time goes by.
Medieval dog treating a cat for melacholy, probably with milk thistle
Dogs work. Cats "help". Despite their ups and down in popularity, cats have often been prized by intellectuals and those who value independence. Medieval cats often worked with monks in their libraries and even helped with their illumnations, as the cat paw prints on the 15th century medieval manscript shown would indicate. Cats befriended Ernest Hemingway, whose home in Key West is now a museum and home to 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) descendants of Hemingway's own six-toed cats. Boswell reports Dr. Samuel Johnson described his favorite cat, a black cat named Hodge, as "a very fine cat indeed". A statue of Hodge is on display in the courtyard at Dr. Johnson's House in in London.
Cats are healers. Some modern research indicates that a cat's purr has healing powers, helping to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. This was most certainly written by cat people.
Cat paw prints on 15th century manuscript
Genetic analysis indicates that domestic cats derive from at least five founder cats from the Fertile Crescent region, from where their descendants were transported around the world. Just how domesticated these cats were is unknown, but over time, cats became more "commensal" (from Latin, "sharing table") with humans. By 7500 B.C., there's enough archaeological evidence of cats living with humans on Cyprus that a purposeful cat burial of cat with a human took place, indicating a probable close relationship and hence, sociability and "domestication".
Medieval cats protected grain from rodents, and were taking to war and on explorations. The Vikings are thought to have brought their skogkatts ("forest cats") with them on their travels, with some experts believing that the American Maine Coon is a descendant of the Norwegian Forest Cat because they have so many characteristics in common.
Later, cats were associated with the dark arts, and association with cats could be dangerous to one health. Then again, so could not associating with cats: Cats controlled the rodent population, carriers of the bubonic plague, and when cats fell out of favor, the rodents and their diseases gained a foothold. Cats are associated with the otherworld and the afterlife. Not only were cats worshipped in ancient Egypt, but medieval witches and nuns were known for keeping cats, as were medieval Muslims. The prophet Mohammed was a cat person.
Black cats have had a particularly rough go of it, and may of the superstitions no longer associated with cats still linger on black cats, whose dark color underscores their association with the dark arts. Black cats are the least likely to be adopted, in spite of the popularity of cat superstars such as Felix the Cat and Sylvester the tuxedo. But the black cat is seen as good luck in other cultures: Black cats were especially revered in Egypt and the penalty for killing a cat was death. Ancient Japanese superstitions about cats generally, and black cats specifically, hold them as symbols fo good fortune and prosperity. Many single women in Japan own black cats, believing it will bring many suitors. And in much of Asian, a black cat crossing your path is seen as a good omen, and a protection to evil. English superstition agrees: Give a bride a black cat on her wedding day to assure her good luck in her marriage and a happy life together.
There are no ordinary cats. ~Colette
Cat detail from the Aberdeen Bestiary, Folio 800
Brechimer the Stag and Tibert the King of Cats carry the body of Renard the Fox, Bodleian, 13th century
Cat from German Book of Nature, 1434
Medieval cat sermonizing to dogs and cats. Kalila and Dimna. 12th cent.
Medieval illumination: Cat in a snail suit.
The kitties are coming! Boulgne-sur-Mer, 13th century
Enigmatic cat, Rothschild 15th cent.
Cat and Mouse from the Bestiary of Anne Walshe
Before Bengals, there were cheetahs. Giovanni de Grassi Cheetahs, 1350-1398
Black cat with artichokes. Artichokes were considered an aphrodisiac.
Crowned cat from the Zurich armorial. Cats, scratching on the furniture since 1340
Cat defending fortress from a siege of mice
Religion was an integral part of medieval life: Medieval cat preaching to mice
Legend has it that on the night of 16 January 1569, Agnes Bowker went into labor, giving birth to a cat on the morning of the 17th.
Medieval cat confronting a satyr. The satyr is mentioned in the Bible. The cat is not.
Book of Hours cat beating a cymbal from The Funeral of Renard the Fox
Cats Royale- Royal 13th century cats from English bestiary
Garden of Earthly Delights Cat with Salamander, 1503, Hieronymus Bosch. Salamanders are toxic to cats.
Medieval monk walking in prayer, accompanied by a cat
Rochester bestiary cat with dancing mouse
13th century bestiary cats with bird cage
Twelfth century cat stalking
Abbeville cat reading a book, 15th century
Fluffy Cat, Middle Ages edition, from the Book of Hours of Joanna the Mad, c. 1486
Medieval cat, stealing family jewels
Pensive cat. Morgan Library, 15th cent.
Ulisse Aldrovandi, 16th cent. Italian cat
Ulisse Aldronvadi cat with extra legs from Historia Monstera
Homesteading cat churning butter. If you want a cat to stay, slather its paws in butter.
Cat, mouse, rat from illuminated ms.
Early medieval blue cat, following a mouse
Early medieval yellow cat, having caught a mouse
Cat hygiene: Another fastidious cat from the Morgan Library. 15th cent.
Allegedly, Geoffrey Chaucer's cat. Morgan Library, 15th cent.
Early medieval striped cat. Does this mouse not have the longest ears ever?
15th century arsenal cat, not too happy. Ears seem pretty small but just wait...
Ulisse Aldrovandi, Cat on a ledge with a mouse. 16th century: Vulcan ears.
Annoyed fiddler cat, Morgan Library
Ulisse Aldrovandi, 16th century, Syrian Cat
Cats "help". Cat holding a bobbin of spinning thread.
Melancholic cat, being treated by a medieval dog
Master of the Game Spotted Cat
Prowling cat from De Medicina Ex Animalibus
Cat hunting with bow and arrow from The Funeral of Renard the Fox
Early medieval cat with mouse, and medieval furbaby sleeping in cradle
Three mid-13th century cats from the Harley Bestiary
Cat with green stripes having just caught a mouse
Ormesby Psalter Cat, 1310
Procession of Black Cats 13th century
Medieval cats playing a fiddle and bagpipe 1320
Cat stuck in tree from Greek Fables, Exemplum de Tribus Latronibus, c. 1475
Unknown medieval cat lover
Palerma Palazzo Dei Morani, 12th century, cat with attitude
14th century Book of Hours, Flanders, A monk and his cat
Lyon manuscript 6881 cat
Cat from Luttrell Psalter (1320-1340), ornately painted and embellished with gold and silver, is noted for its sometimes bizarre illustrations (and marginalia) and the depictions of rustic life.
Title: Medieval Cats
Tile: Tumbled Marble Stone
Size: 6 inch square tiles (15.4 cm)
Thickness: 3/8 inch (1 cm)
Weight: 22 ounces (.62 kg) each tile
*Also available in 4 inch tiles
Per Medieval Cat:
4-inch medieval cat: $58 (one cat per tile)
6-inch medieval cat: $67
Prices do not include shipping costs.
A medieval cat tile is featured most Saturdays. Check out the current featured tiles.