It is estimated that there are around 9 million cats in the uk and they have recently overtaken dogs as the most popular pet, however this has not always been the case.
During the last thousand years the cat in the uk has had a varied relationship with man. In 948AD, during the reign of Howell the Good, King of Wales, cats were scarce and considered to be very valuble. From birth until its eyes opened, a kitten was worth one penny; from then on until it killed a mouse, 2 pennies; and once it had been established as a mouser it was worth 4 pennies; this was a substantial amount of money in those days.
Three hundred years later, it was a completely different story though. in the 13th century, Pope Gregory IX declared that cats were diabolical – this led to the extermination of many. Woman who owned them were considered witches and were dealt with in a similar fashion!
When bubonic plague hit the UK, cats were again in favour as thier value as rat catchers were recognised, however during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth 1 and Queen Mary, they were again persecuted. When Charles the 1st came to the throne in the 17th century, cats were considerd to bring good fortune, the king carried a cat every where with him and on the day after his cat died he was arrested and subsequently beheaded by Oliver Cromwell.
Would a cat be the right pet for you?
Although more independant than dogs, cats still require plenty of care and attention. They are great company and are normally happy to be left on their own throughout the day so make great pets for working people. Busy roads and cats do not mix – many are killed or seriously injured on the roads every day, so consider this carefully before getting a cat, they do roam and have very little road sense. You could consider a house cat however you would need to get one who is either used to being indoors or a kitten that has never been out. If a cat has always been allowed out in the past, it will struggle to adapt to a life indoors.
If you decide that a cat is the right pet for you, the next step is to find one. If you feel that you would prefer a kitten, there are usually adverts in the local papers or on pets for sale boards in pet stores during kitten season. Rescue centres are usually full of cats needing homes – why not consider an older cat, these unfortunatly are often overlooked as they do not seem as appealing as a kitten.