Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 13 – Cats in Art – William Hogarth)

The English painter, William Hogarth, (1697-1794), who was highly critical of the lax social mores of the time, set out to draw and paint about issues which he felt strongly, using the cat symbolically in many of his works.  A versatile artist, Hogarth was both a painter and engraver.  Some of his most famous engravings […]

Cat Poems – Sacrifice to the Cat that Scared all the Rats, Mei Yao Ch’en (1002-1060AD)

During the latter part of the T’ang and Sung Dynasties (618-1279 AD) Chinese cat poems and paintings became popular. Here Mei Yao Ch’en (1002-1060AD) writes a heartfelt poem to his dead cat.   Sacrifice to the Cat that Scared all the Rats When I had my Five White cat, The rats did not invade my books. This […]


The Cat in Mannerist Paintings Paintings in the Mannerist style, an artistic movement which blossomed from the Renaissance, focused less on naturalistic portrayals.  Hans Baldung, a student of Albrecht Dürer, usually known for his renditions of profane witches, in a later allegorical Mannerist work entitled, Music (1484),   a harmless white cat sits next to […]


No description of the cat and its involvement with witchcraft is complete without the accompanying examples of it as an essential ingredient for magic.  Cats and magic have been inseparable since Egyptian times. The black cat was especially important, as it was commonly believed that the blood of a black cat when mixed with certain herbs was extremely powerful […]

CATS AND WITCHCRAFT (Part 8-The New England Colonies)

Incidents of cats and witchcraft not only plagued Europe, but also spread to the New England colonies as well.  In 1619, “Dalton’s Country Justice” was published and included instructions on how to deal with witchcraft (Taylor, 1908). On the morning of December 8, 1679, a man claimed that while his wife was making their bed, she had been accosted by […]

CATS AND WITCHCRAFT (Part 6 – Edward Topsell)

Further inflaming the fire of witchcraft accusations that revolved around cats, in 1607, Edward Topsell (1572-1625), first published his book The History of Four Footed Beasts, wherein he stated, “The familiars of witches do most commonly appear in the shape of cats, which is an argument that this beast is dangerous to the soul and […]


SIR HENRY WYATT: As we know from last week’s post, Queen Elizabeth I was not at all fond of cats.  However, in contrast, Elizabeth’s adversaries seemed to like cats.  Sir Henry Wyatt, the Duke of Norfolk, after having been committed to the Tower by Queen Elizabeth I for plotting to take over her throne, was […]

CATS AND WITCHCRAFT (Part 4-The First Witch Trials and the Cat Satan)

The First Witch Trials and the Cat Satan Because of religious unrest, Henry VIII thought it prudent to enact a law against Witchcraft in 1542 making the act a felony punishable by death.  Ironically, even though most regarded cats as evil, the cunning Cardinal Wolsey seemed to have liked cats very much.  So much so […]

CATS AND WITCHCRAFT (Part 3-Malleus Maleficarum)

MALLEUS MALEFICARUM OR THE HAMMER OF WITCHES: Unfortunately, in 1484, the fate of women and cats took a dire turn for the worse when the Dominican inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger complained to Pope Innocent VIII that witchcraft and heresy were consuming all of Germany and nothing was being done about it.  The Pope […]


The Cat in Medieval Inventions: Not only were cats inspirations for paintings, but they also became the models for strange tortuous inventions.  In 1549, a cat organ was made in honor of Philip II of Brussels.  A large bear played the organ that contained up to twenty cats perched in separate compartments.  The parts of […]

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