Skip to main content

Cat in Heraldry

In heraldry the cat is an emblem of liberty; and rightly so! What better emblem than the independent and free spirited cat to signify freedom? Cats hate to be shut up. As an aside we should think about all the cats, wild and domestic in cages throughout the world. They should not be there. The cat is almost certainly the animal most often adopted by sports teams in one way or another; a sign of respect for the cat that is sadly and ironically abused not that uncommonly.

Many long established families or interrelated families have adopted the cat as their emblem. In Scotland we have the Clan Chattan or Clan of the Cats. This is an ancient clan that was founded, I am informed, at the close of the 13th century - an amalgam of several clans.

The crest is the Scottish wildcat. The Scottish wildcat is a wonderfully fierce cat that is barely hanging on in the UK today (2012). Even 100 years ago it was extinct in all but north Scotland. There are said to be 400 left but some are hybrids as they mate with domestic cats. The last time it was seen in England (and no doubt shot) was in the south west over 110 years ago.

Crest of Clan Chattan

The motto: Touch not the cat bot a glove is slightly amusing and wise at the same time. As mentioned, the Scottish wildcat is famous for its fiercely defensive aggression. In modern English the motto means; don't touch the cat without gloves. You wouldn't get near it! The chief of the clan was called, "Mohr au Chat" - the great wild cat.

The coat of arms of the family Keat of Devonshire is "Argent three cats in pale sable". In heraldry "argent" is the tincture of silver. The cats are meant to represent "mountain cats". They are almost certainly the wild cat of Great Britain now called the Scottish wildcat.

Keat of Devonshire Coat of Arms

It is said that a cat in a coat of arms should be square on showing full face and both ears and eyes. That would seem not to be the case above.

Keats as a family name is also ancient. It dates back to the Anglo Saxon race, well before 1066 A.D. In the United States there are some well known people whose surname is Keats: Ezra Jack Keats and author and John Keats a writer and biographer to name two. The best known Keats is the English poet John Keats (1795-1821).

The English surname Catte or Cat (there are other variations) was created sometime not long after 1066 A.D. It appears to have been developed from nicknames given to people who had the appearance and/or character of a cat. That would seem to be the way many names were started in ancient times.

Sources: Various! Including: Our Cats and all about them ISBN 978-1-84664-096-4, Wikipedia, Celtic and Clan of the Cat.


Popular posts from this blog

Cat Ear Mites

Brown gunge. Yes, I know this is a ferret! It does show the build up of dark brown to black ear wax caused by the presence of the cat ear mites in the outer ear canal. This parasite is not restricted to the domestic cat, which makes this photo valid and a useful illustration (I was unable to find a suitable photo of a cat with the condition). Photo Stacy Lynn Baum under a creative commons license. Ear mites (minute crab like creatures) are one of the causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal (scientific term for this inflammation is Otitis externa ). The outer ear canal is the tube that runs from outside to the ear drum (the pathway for the reception of sound), which can be seen when looking at the ear. Otitis externa affects humans and often swimmers as it is called "swimmer's ear" in humans. This YouTube video show ear mites under a microscope. They are not actually in the ear in this video. There are many possible causes of Otitis externa in c

Feline Mange

I'll write about three types of feline mange (a) feline scabies or head mange (b) demodectic mange and (c) sarcoptic mange. The source material is from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the best on the market . Generalised feline mange? Puerto Rico - Photo by Gotham City Lost And Found Feline Scabies - head mange Head mange or feline scabies, is a fairly rare condition in cats, which is caused by the Notoedres mite (head mite) that only reproduces on cats. The female mites burrow a few millimeters (that is a lot) into the skin around the head, and neck to lay eggs, which hatch and lay their own eggs. Their presence and activities causes intense itching that in turn causes the cat to scratch. The scratching will obviously be noticed and it will cause the skin to become red, scratched and worse infected. Symptoms: hair loss and scabs, thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching. Feline mange (head mange) is contagious and tr

Cat Anatomy

Cat Anatomy - Photo by Curious Expeditions . The picture above was taken at Wax Anatomical Models at La Specola in Florence, Italy. The photograph is published under a creative commons license kindly granted by the photographer. I am sorry if it is a bit gruesome. It is pretty well all I could find as an illustration that was licensed for publication. Cat Anatomy is a very wide ranging subject. The anatomy of a cat is very similar to human anatomy. If you were writing a biology book for students of biology you would go through every part of the a cat's anatomy in some detail. It would be similar to writing a book about the human anatomy. It would be a thick book and pretty boring for your average internet surfer. So, how do you limit such a big subject and make this post meaningful? The answer I think lies in doing two things: Having a quick general look at cat anatomy - an overview and; Focusing on the areas of cat anatomy that are particular to the cat and of parti