The hard working cats of Exeter Cathedral

Somehow we felines have earned a reputation for not doing much. You humans seem to think we spend our days sleeping, only waking to eat and allow ourselves to be stroked by our adoring humans.

Well let me tell you we are some of the hardest working creatures you’ll find. We’re just incredibly intelligent when it comes to conserving our energy, which means we carry out tasks with precision, efficiency and a cool head.

Down the centuries we’ve been on the payroll of many famous organisations. Take Exeter Cathedral for instance.

The Cathedral is home to an astronomical clock that was fitted in 1484. Fourteen. Eighty. Four. Wow that’s old!

Anyway, the clock developed a rather squeaky problem. A squeaky problem with big teeth and long tails. Yup. Rats. They gnawed away at the ropes in the clock’s inner workings, which were lubricated with animal fat – nectar to rodents.  Something had to be done.

So a hole was made in the door that led to the inside of the clock, big enough to allow a cat to get in and deal with the problem. 

These cats were official cathedral employee, paid one shiny penny a week for their troubles. Imagine the amount of Dreamies that would buy in today’s money!

Exeter Cathedral catOne brave feline employee, Tom, lost an eye in a fight with an owl over a rat and there’s a little stone carving of him inside the Cathedral.

Thanks to Fiona Bruce (I do like Fiona) for sharing this story on Antiques Roadshow!