Buddhist monasteries in Siam, Sikkhim and Tibet have traditionally over the centuries had Siamese cats as temple guardians, and these can be very fierce toward strangers.
Cats do seem very attracted to ancient churches and cathedrals.
For many years Marbles the 17 year old overweight cat, looked after the 1,000 year old historic Ely cathedral in Cambridgeshire England, deep in Oliver Cromwell country, and Marbles was noted for his friendliness.
His death 3 years ago after many years of sitting on guard during the services to deter errant sparrows from flying round the high roofing, has brought a deluge of tributes, and even forgiveness for walking muddy paw-prints over the alter cloth in the lady chapel, for he was a great favourite with children and adults alike, and brightened many a dull service.
Strangely he died the same day as a friend Jo’s cat Slob, Jo a single mum takes in any strays and ill cats and looks after them as best she can.
For 3 years the cathedral was catless and empty, but now a new Cathedral owner has taken charge, Blackie a large stray tom cat has moved in and trots out tail in the air to check on visitors.
Blackie so named by the delighted children who come into the church and now enjoy the long services, while being entertained by Blackie’s roving and climbing antics, and although he is discouraged from climbing the huge catherdal organ during services, is given the whole run of the enormous building.
Blackie is secretly fed by an army of people who bring in juicy tid-bits to place in the small bowl at the entrance, and Blackie has appointed a frail old lady in a red coat as his personal servant and she comes in to feed and groom him each day, but it turns out, Blackie also visits the old Bishops house along the way, the ancient almshouses, the caretakers cottage the Library and the new coffee shop for scraps, maybe that’s why he is ballooning in weight?
Regulars said they could never replace Marbles, but Blackie had other ideas.
Marbles became famous in the 1993 book by Richard Surman called Cathedral Cats, but Blackie is becoming famous too with the number of American visitors searching their roots as so many of the original settlers to the USA came from this part of England, and while walking the cathedral suddenly find a large black cat fussing round their legs and they then want to be photographed with Blackie, this is making him the new firm favorite.
Strange really as Oliver Cromwell lived nearby, and he had a deep fear of black cats, and would burn at the stake old women who kept them.
T. Stokes “Happy Palmistry”
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