400-year-old cat found in bathroom

Tuesday, April 21, 2009, 14:35

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A 400-YEAR-OLD cat is the last thing you would expect to find when renovating your home.

But that is exactly what builders came across in the bathroom of an Ugborough cottage.

Local legend has it that the mummified moggy was placed in the walls of the house near Plymouth to ward off witches four centuries ago and owner Richard Parson said it had done a good job so far.

"I am of the opinion that it works as, since we have lived in the village, we have seen sight nor sound of any witches," he said.

The new family pet has caused quite a stir in the village with neighbours telling tales of superstition and witchcraft.

 

"We moved in 18 months ago and were told by neighbours about the cat, which was found when there was building work done in the 1980s," said Mr Parson, company director of funeral business Walter C Parson.

"We were also told about a child’s booty, left in the house because it was once used as a cobblers and was supposed to bring luck.

The exact location of the cat was a secret until it was unearthed."

And despite spending 400 years cooped up in a wall, the cat is in recognisable shape and still has all its claws and teeth.

"It is quite scary looking and is a lot bigger than a normal domestic cat," said Mr Parson.

Admitting that his first thought was to throw the ancient animal in the bin, the 42-year-old has since been persuaded to keep it and re-bury it in the house.

"My neighbours said I couldn’t throw it away so we plan to put it back on completion of the building work.

"But my wife is not all that keen on it, saying she will have bad dreams.

"I am not a superstitious man but the cat is a little bit of village history and adds charm to the property."

Mr Parson’s wife, Sarah, said she was not told about the cat until after they bought the house, because her husband knew she would not like it.

Mrs Parson was at home when the builders found the cat, stuck into the insulation in a wall.

She said: "It was quite a shock. It’s not the most attractive cat. It’s perfectly preserved but with its mouth open, and in pounce position.

"My first reaction was ‘get rid of it,’ but my husband assured me it brings good luck. His line of business is such that he doesn’t mind that sort of thing much.

"We’re going to put it back, but I don’t want to know where – I wouldn’t be able to walk across the room."

Witchcraft and magic expert Dr Marian Gibson, from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus, said she was fascinated by the feline find.

"It isn’t uncommon to find these sorts of things across Britain and Europe," she said.

"The idea was to put an animal into the foundations or walls of the building and its death would give safety to the building and its inhabitants."

400-year-old cat found in bathroom

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