Cat Pics from the Middle Ages

International Cat Day takes place in August. We thought should do something to commemorate this day and let you know that cat pics existed in the Middle Ages as well.

Cat playing music

From New York Public Library, this image was found in a 15th century Book of Hours


Riding a Cat to Battle

From the Welcome Library – this image from a 1420s manuscript depicting the Apocalypse shows a warrior riding cat.

Three Cats and a Mouse

Medieval Cat Pics - British Librayr Harley 4751 f.30v

From British Library manuscript Harley 4751

Cat playing rebec

Another images from the British Library Harley 6563, from around the 1320s, where a cat plays a musical instrument.


Cat, monkey and heads

From the Walters Art Museum, this 13th century Persian manuscript showing the Wonders of creation features lighthouses with a cat, a monkey, and the heads of animals and humans.

Fat Cat

From the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg, this image from about 1500 has the cat catching the mouse before it gets to the food.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Cats

Leonardo da Vinci drew this page of cat images around the year 1513.

Cat with mouse

From MS. Rawl. C. 328 at Bodley Library in Oxford University, dating to the 14th century. It doesn’t look good for the mouse!

Cats in the Book of Kells

The famous 8th century Gospel Book, now at Trinity College Library in Dublin, even has a few cats in it.


Cat in the house

From the 14th-century Tacuina sanitatis, this scene of medieval daily life includes a cat watching as a lady tends to a pot on the fire.

Cats vs Mice

You can find many images, such as this one from a 13th-century Northumberland Bestiary, in which cats hunt and chase mice.

Cats from medieval China

This 11th century image from Sung Dynasty China features a cat as well as cat with a monkey


Cat at the Last Supper

Medieval and Renaissance artists might place a cat in some historical scenes, such as this fresco of the Last Supper by Cosimo Rosselli, which was done around 1481 and can be found in the Sistine Chapel.

Lorenzo Lotto’s Cat

The Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto included a cat being scared off by an angel as part of his Recanati Annunciation that he made around 1534.

Cats can’t win them all

This poor cat is being ridden by a mouse in Paris, Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève, MS 143, a late 14th-century manuscript.

Cat in a snail shell

Detail of a marginal image of a cat in a snail shell, from the British Library MS Stowe 17


The Cat as Pall-bearer

In this Book of Hours, Tilbert the Cat is carrying the front of Renard the Fox’s bier. From Walters Art Museum Manuscript W.102

The Rocket Cat

This 16th century manuscript (UPenn Ms. Codex 109) includes an image of cat with a rocket on its back. It comes from a work that examines gunpowder and weaponry – around this period, one idea was to use doves and cats loaded with flammable devices to set fire to enemy positions. Hopefully it wasn’t done too many times!

Medieval Awesomeness: Cats in Manuscripts was created by Artful Images.

And finally…in 2013 this image from Emir Filipović went viral – a 15th century cat making its own art!

There are many, many more medieval images of cats. Check out:

Medieval Cats from

European Renaissance Art at the Cat Museum on Pinterest

Top 10 Medieval Butt-Licking Cats from Discarding Images

A Rocket Cat? Early Modern Explosives Treatises at Penn

Paws, Pee and Mice: Cats among Medieval Manuscripts

Curious Cat Walks Over Medieval Manuscript

Lolcats of the Middle Ages

You can also learn more about cats in the Middle Ages. See:

Why Cats were hated in Medieval Europe

Pet Care Advice from the Middle Ages

Killing Cats in the Medieval Period: An Unusual episode in the history of Cambridge, England

How to Swing a Mouse: Intersections of Female and Feline in Medieval Europe

The role of the feline in the medieval society of the North Atlantic region