The Library

Animals > Cat

The Cat

The cat is an unusual animal to find in early woodcarving.  Because it could neither be trained nor completely controlled, the cat was considered to do the work of the devil and was commonly associated with witches.  On a practical level cats were highly valued mousers, useful for keeping the rat as well as the mouse population down, were eaten in times of famine and their fur used to trim coats.  They appear more commonly in medieval manuscripts then they do in carving.

1. 16th-century English oak panel of a cat.

2. 15th-century French oak carving of a cat arching its back, once the centrepiece of a misericord.