Medieval domestic cat skinners

A bit of domestic cat history from England and Europe in general plus an image created with the help of an AI computer and some superb online software and some imagination. In Medieval England (500-1500 AD) domestic cats were in danger of being captured and skinned by professional skinners. Does this remind you of the Chinese domestic and feral cat fur trade?! It does me. That’s exactly what they do today in China. Millions of cats are victims. This aspect of Chinese life mirrors medieval Europe which reinforces my firm belief that is it incredibly primitive. And the reason why such a primitive and barbaric practice exists in the 21st century in an advanced country such as China is because it is based on a thousand-year-old superstition that eating domestic cats cures some ailments. And a mentality which has a complete disregard for animal cruelty. I think I have that completely correct.

Domestic cat skinners of medieval times
Domestic cat skinners of medieval times. This is a funky image created by MikeB at PoC. Hope you like it.
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People wore domestic cat fur clothing in medieval England, and archaeologists may have found a site where such leather was produced in the 13th century. In medieval France the provost of Paris in 1268, Etienne Boileau worked out the tax on cat skins; half a dozen wild cat skins taxed at 2 pence. One pence for half a dozen skins ‘of private cats of the fireside and hearth’. Makes you laugh, the lack of enlightenment and abject cruelty. Wild cats were much more valuable than domestic cats which must have been due to their rarity and difficult in capturing them. They would have been European wildcats. They are still present in smaller numbers today.

In central northern Italy, the 13th century Franciscan chronicler Salimbene de Adam reported how many domestic cats abandoned in towns sacked by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederik II, were captured by an enterprising man for their fur.

The report goes as follows:

He had caught in his traps twenty-seven fine cats in the burned-out cities and he sold their pelts to furriers. There can be little doubt of this, because in peacetime they had been pet cats in those cities.

Mediaeval texts confirm that cat fur was traded during the Middle Ages (mediaeval times). It’s reported that many of the cats killed and skinned were 9-20 months of age. It has been suggested that the reason why they were young is because the fur was better quality as it was free of damage through parasites and/or disease. I guess in those days domestic cats had much shorter lives and their coat and health deteriorated quite quickly.

There are numerous archeological sites in northern Europe especially Britain and Ireland which provide evidence of cat skinning. The skins were used to make garments mainly coats and sometimes collars and sleeves.

The mediaeval peninsular containing Spain and Portugal which was called Iberia was also an area where cat skinning took place. As I understand it, parts of this area were Muslim. That may be significant because it proves that the exploitation of domestic and stray cats for their fur was common in both the Christian and Muslim world in mediaeval times. The Islam faith is now a minority religion in Spain.

Sources: Live Science and the book Medieval Cats by Kathleen Walker-Meikle. Oh, and me!

Below are some more articles on medieval times and cats.

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