The value of domestic cats has dramatically decreased since the 10th century
“The dramatic decrease in value of domestic cats over a 1000 years feeds cat abuse” – Michael
Several statutes (laws made by government) specifically mentioned domestic cats showing how valuable they were for their mice catching skills. One Welsh statute of the tenth century stated:
“The price of a cat is fourpence. Her qualities are to see, to hear, to kill mice, to have her claws whole, and to nurse and not devour her kittens. If she be deficient in any one of these qualities, on third of her price must be returned.”
Note: that female cats were considered more valuable than males.
Fourpence in the 10th century bought a sheep. Sheep today in the UK sell for £50-£150, those sorts of prices.
In Early Medieval Britain (400-900 AD) sheep were more valuable it seems at £300 (at today’s values).
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We can say with some confidence that a random bred cat in the 10th century was worth about £150 at today’s values (all domestic cats at that time were random bred).
Today, you have to say that random bred cats have no intrinsic financial value as they are essentially free at animal shelters. You have a fee for the services provided by the shelter; an adoption fee covering spaying and neutering and vaccinations.
Cats were more valuable in the 10th century. The reason must be simple supply and demand – market rules. Take America. There are more cats on offer in the marketplace than there are adopters. Supply is greater than demand which is why many hundreds of thousands (millions in the past) are killed annually at shelters.
There must have been less domestic cats in the 10th century relative to the smaller human population. And they were valued for their utility: their ability to kill mice. A rodent suppressor. Today the role of the domestic cat is primarily one of companionship. A relatively small number of farms use semi-feral cats as rodent suppressors.
P.S. note that in the 10th century they valued a cat’s claws (for hunting mice). Millions of Americans and have declawed their cats as they consider this item of feline anatomy a nuisance.
P.P.S. There were no domestic cats in the US in the 10th century as far as I am aware so this article is a reference to Europe essentially but it is interesting to me to compare values.
The decline in the value of domestic cats is concerning. I have always said that this devalued state of the domestic cat also feeds cat abuse.
Think about it. If the random bred domestic cat was very valuable there would be little or no abuse. They’d be protected.