During the Middle Ages, people believed that if a black cat crossed your path or home, it was a sign of good luck. But this lofty feline status also had its downside:
The Curious Case of the Black Cat
We were finally into our new home. It was a beautiful, white walled, listed cottage. Jack had his office all set up, and I had my kitchen, with its marble topped breakfast bar. All that was left to do was introduce Sedrick.
Sedrick, our huge black tom cat, with one green eye and the other more blueish than green. He had been sent to my mother’s for a while, he didn’t mind too much, after all, she spoiled him as much as I did. He’d been a little troubled about not being permitted outside. Grossly overweight he became content to sit like a little black Buddha watching the birds in the back garden through Mom’s patio door.
I waited eagerly on my front door step. Finally, Dad was walking down the garden path with the plastic pet carrier in hand, a lazy black paw dangling out between the bars. I cooed and fussed my missed companion as I lifted him from incarceration.
“Careful he doesn’t run off.” Warned Dad
“He’s never leaving me again” was my muffled reply through a pressed cheek and fur.
As I was about to cross the threshold, Sedrick started wriggling. It was like wrestling a fluffy alligator. In a moment he was over my head and had leapt from me to the lawn. He hissed at the door and then sat pert as a pudding, looking at me.
In shock, I blurted “What the expletive! Oddly curious behaviour. That’s the most exercise I ever saw my Sedrick do.”
I tried once more to take him inside, yet, again he fought tooth and claw to avoid our doorway.
Jack came down from his office, to see what was for dinner. Curiosity at our gathering on the lawn led him to try his hand at enticing Sedrick with an open tin of tuna. On the verge of giving in and letting Dad take him back, I tried opening the kitchen window and calling Sedwick in. To my surprise, Sedrick jumped up into the window box full of herbs, twitched his nose at the overwhelming smell and sauntered onto the counter top where he devoured the tuna with the gusto of a ravenous beast.
Two weeks living in our new home and Sedrick’s manner had become stranger still. He would not reside at all in the west side of the house. Insisted on leaving out the back window and returning through the kitchen window. He would happily climb the large walnut tree in the rear garden, but, oddly growled every time he had to walk through the hawthorn hedge to the front because the gate was closed. Worst of all he clawed, peed and moaned at a door that would have been the old pantry. Even the vet could not explain Sedwick’s peculiar behaviour.
This morning I woke to the sound of desperate yowling. Following the cry, I discovered poor Sedwick sitting on my breakfast bar in the centre of the kitchen. Water all over the floor and bubbling up from a crack which came out from under the pantry door.
That burst water pipe is not the end of the curiosity. The plumber that came had to excavate through my beautiful terracotta tiled floor. As the plumber did so, he found a box buried under the pantry flagstone. When he handed it to me, Sedwick moaned and wailed from his marooned spot on the kitchen island. I opened it, prying the tacked lid with a butter knife. Bones, small cat bones were inside the box. I gave a shriek that brought the men in the house to my side, including Sedwick.
“Ah, yes.” Said the plumber with an informed tone. “That sometimes happens around here. It’s an old superstition from a bygone time. Supposed to keep vermin out the kitchen by all accounts I’ve heard. Here’s betting you’ll find a bunch of bones in the west corner too.”
True fact: Sacrificing cats was commonplace in the Middle Ages — they were burned to guard against witches, and kittens were entombed in foundations of houses to protect against rat infestations.