Mummified walled up cats for sale on ebay. Is this ethical?

At the time of this post there are two mummified cats for sale on ebay. One is described as a “MUMMIFIED WITCH’S CAT – WALLED UP – GAFF 18th CENTURY” and the other as a “Real Rare Mummified Cat With Rat And 2 Mice From The Haunted Museum”. A third on offer appears to have been sold. There were complaints about it. There are two aspects to these offers to purchase which are of interest. I have reluctantly published the photo below. I feel that I have to so people can decide for themselves. Google may object.

Mummified walled up cat
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Mummified walled up cat. Photo: eBay.

Historical context

At one time (perhaps several hundred years ago), in some European cultures it was believed that if you put a dead cat inside an internal wall of your home it would ward off evil spirits. It would protect you. This was a superstition which seems to hark back to witches familiars. Unfortunately for the domestic cat the legacy of those hundreds of years of persecution during medieval times (because they were seen as the embodiment of the devil) has been carried forward to the modern era. Although today no one could see the logic in the process as it is pure superstition. That said, it is entirely possible that the superstition exists to this day in some developing countries.

It is speculated that on occasions living cats were placed inside the walls. If this is so, and it is very possible, it was an act of gross cruelty.

Mummified domestic cats have been found concealed in the walls of homes in Europe and North America. We are told that the occurrences of this in North American come from European settlers. In some examples the cats are accompanied by rats or mice. One of the eBay adverts features a cat and a rat. It is almost certainly a genuine walled up cat and rat from hundreds of years ago.

Useful links
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For a while it was speculated that the cats had become trapped and died of starvation and a lack of water but they were found in locations that made the theory untenable. For example, they were inside the cavity of a brick wall.

Ethical context

Should ebay allow these items to be sold on its platform? As mentioned, the practice of walling up cats may well have incorporated cat cruelty. The potential link to cat cruelty would make the sale of mummified walled up cats unethical. There are calls for the items to be removed. The photographs are unpleasant. They whole concept of selling a desiccated cat which was found in a 16th century cottage is unpleasant and macabre. Some people will object to it while others see nothing wrong. Cat lovers, of which there are millions, would probably find their sale objectionable. I am one of those.

Some more on cat superstitions

Black cats bring good luck for some. I explain the origins of this belief

If you believe that a black cat brings good luck this is why

To be candid, the superstitions surrounding the black cat are numerous and they either say that they bring bad or ...
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Witch's cat

How did the cat become associated with witchcraft?

The compact infographic below summarises how the humble and innocent cat became so unfairly associated with witchcraft. Once again, I ...
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Indonesia cat superstition

Indonesia – cat superstition

This is a continuation of cat superstitions around the world. I am pleasantly surprised to discover only one cat superstition ...
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Vietnam cat superstitions

Vietnam cat superstitions

If a culture has superstitions, they are bound to include the domestic cat. The domestic cat attracts superstition and has ...
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Superstition surrounded medieval cats of all kinds in European medieval times.

Cat meat consumption today based on mediaeval superstitions

Although some Chinese living in the south of China appear to have the strongest reputation for eating cat meat, there ...
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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Harold Sms says:

    I see nothing wrong with display one is a museum. This was done thousands of years ago and unlike a taxidermy cat, nobody is going to kill a cat and mummify I have 3 in my cat museum and nobody has objected. Real museum specimen are almost impossible to buy and can cost thousands of dollars.

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