An online talk about clerical cats in history presented by Dr Kathleen Walker-Meikle

In June 2021 Dr Kathleen Walker-Meikle joined us on Zoom for an amusing and informative talk on the cat-crazed clergy, from the Middle Ages to today, as we learn about the pampered felines of archbishops, bishops, clerics, monks, nuns, and anchorites. We’ll cover everything from the never-ending unsuccessful efforts of medieval episcopal authorities to reduce nuns’ devotions to their felines to a 17th c. archbishop importing tabby cats from Syria.

Cats were everywhere, from unhelpfully pressing dirty paws onto the pages of manuscripts, to snoozing under the pope’s chair in St Peter’s!

In honour of Hodge (pictured), the resident Southwark Cathedral cat and Doorkins Magnificat, the previous incumbent to the post who passed away in 2020, Dr Walker-Meikle spoke about both their fellow contemporary Cathedral cats and their medieval predecessors, with their carefully cut-out cat doors in cathedrals and expense accounts for additional food that they might need in addition to mousing duties.

Dr Kathleen Walker-Meikle (PhD History, UCL) is a specialist in the history of animals and medicine in the medieval and early modern period, She is the author of several books, including ‘Medieval Pets’ (Boydell & Brewer, 2021 paperback), ‘Cats in Medieval Manuscripts’ (British Library Publications, 2019), ‘Dogs in Medieval Manuscripts’ (British Library Publications, 2020), ‘The Cat Book: Cats of Historical Distinction (Bloomsbury, 2015), ‘The Dog Book: Dogs of Historical Distinction’ (Bloomsbury, 2014), ‘The Horse Book: Horses of Historical Distinction’ (Bloomsbury, 2017).