Cats in Books of Hours:
The Books of Hours were another source of devotional literature, which included psalms, a calendar of the church feasts and other religious writings. In the 14th century, these reached their height of popularity becoming even more common than Psalters. Usually written in Latin, cats and mice amongst a myriad of other subjects and themes elaborately decorated their pages.
In the German Maastricht Book of Hours, dating to around 1400, a cat is pictured in a snail shell.
The Book of Hours of Charlotte of Savoy, queen consort of Louis XI 1420-25, contains many illustrations of cats. A dog chases a cat in the margin on one page, on another, a white cat holds a grey mouse, while yet another cat is even cleaning itself with a strikingly red tongue.
In the Book of Hours of Rome, a cat plays a musical instrument.
In another from Rouen, France, (1470) a jester rides a bridled cat.
In the Da Costa Book of Hours (1515), a cat sits as a member of the family in the midst of a peaceful home where a fire roars and a table is laden with food.
From a Book of Hours from Bruges (1531) we see a cat set back in the center of the painting underneath light streaming from a dove positioned directly above it. The dove, a symbol of peace and love, shines its light down upon the potentially evil cat. The idea of above and below, heaven and earth, pervades the picture, while the angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary are highlighted in the foreground.
Two pages in a French Book of Hours from the 15th century, have depictions of a cat in the company of a monkey. On the first page, a monkey holds a cat on its lap while feeding it milk through a horn. On the second, a monkey churns butter, while a cat drinks milk from a bowl. According to a fable, the Sun and Moon took turns creating all life. The Sun created the Lion, and the Moon created the cat. When the Moon created the Monkey, all the stars laughed at such a strange animal. The insulted Moon thus cast a spell to cause eternal hatred between the monkey and the cat and the cat and mouse (Van Vechten, 1921). Even so, here the monkey appears benevolent as it nurtures the cat.
†† A Medieval stringed instrument with a pear shaped body resembling a violin.