Monday 9 January 2023

Cat owner's in medieval England advised to keep cats out of the bedroom

The French adage "plus ça change" comes to my mind immediately.  It is a phrase which means that things don't change because basic human nature does not change even over thousands of years.

Medieval bedroom with woman and her cat
Medieval bedroom with woman and her cat. Photo-edited pic by MikeB.

And so back in medieval times (500-1500 AD) a well-known book which can still be found on Google, "Boke of Nature", advises in the strongest terms to keep domestic cats out of the bedroom:
"Dryve out dogge and catte, or els geve them a clout"
I guess you can understand it but it must mean:

"Drive dogs and cats out of the bedroom and if they enter hit them!"

Nice. A bit unfriendly to say the least. 

There is a strange medieval story of a knight and a lady he loves. She has a cat companion. She rejected the knight's advances. He goes to her bedroom at night in disguise. Her cat scratches him. She softens as a result and becomes his mistress but he refuses to marry her because he is scared of her cat! 

Some knight of the realm 😒. Lacking a bit of courage. Although the story is very modern in that the woman has the cat and the man appears not to be very keen on them.

The debate about domestic cats in bedrooms continues. I expect it has been a firm discussion topic since the domestic cat was imported into Britain by the Romans!

The best solution is compromise. Allow cats into the bedroom as it is so important to them. It is a major part of their home range. Don't deny them access. 

Make a nice, warm bedding area for your cat in the bedroom full of delicious cat owner smells and hope that she uses it. I understand the difficulties as cats disturb sleep but you get used to it. It is one of those human behaviour adaptations that cat caregivers have to transition to.

Source: Medieval Cats by Kathleen Walker-Meike.

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