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Church Cats 8
Canterbury Cathedral is one of England's finest cathedrals and the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England. It is also a World Heritage site. And until the autumn of 2013 it had a resident cat. He's thought to have originally belonged to one of the houses at the nearby King's School, but was then adopted by Choir House, in the cathedral precincts. Because he liked jumping up on people's laps, the choristers named him Laptop.
In summer 2008 the Choir House was due for refurbishment, so Laptop's care was taken on by the virgers (sic) and it was they who then feed him, although he was quite self-sufficient. His favourite sleeping spot was over the heating pipes in the Water Tower garden, and he could often be found either there or in the cathedral cloisters. He didn't often venture into the cathedral itself, but when he did one of the chairs in the Martyrdom was a favoured place, especially in winter.
Laptop usually came to accompany the early-morning virger to open up the cloisters just before 7 a.m., after which he was fed. He enjoyed a stroke from visitors when he met them, usually either in the cloisters or the Martyrdom.
We're sad to report that Laptop died on 11 September. After his usual attendance at the 7 a.m. service of Matins in the cathedral where he had shown some difficulty in getting up the steps he became ill quite suddenly later in the day and died. His exact age was unknown, but it's thought he was quite old. He has been buried in one of his favourite spots in the cathedral gardens. See the Cathedral's obituary page with a slideshow of images.
There's a short YouTube clip of the cathedral interior as seen from Laptop's level, ending up at his food bowl and with a shot of the cat himself.
With many thanks to Mrs Kate Chaytor, Visitor Coordinator of the Cathedral; virger Julia; and Stephen Brown, Deputy Vesturer for supplying images and the information for our account. Also to Mick Escott for one of the images as credited.
St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church stands just off the Royal Mile, at the heart of the old town in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. Fred the church cat came in late 2003 from a local cat rescue organisation; he is of uncertain age but was probably about 5 years old when he arrived. Officially he lives with three parish priests in the parish house, and generally he has the run of the church and grounds. He is said to particularly like going into the church, as he loves meeting people. The church is served by priests of the Redemptorist order, who have a special devotion to the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Succour), and so there is often a Marian hymn at Our Lady's shrine there at the end of weekday Masses. Fred likes to follow the priest there and 'dance around' during the hymn! In fact, at times he has to be discouraged from going into the church during services, as it can be rather disconcerting for the congregation to have him gazing out at them from the sanctuary. However, when he gets the chance the presidential chair in the sanctuary is one of his favourite sleeping spots; at other times he can be found snuggling under a radiator.
Being a 'people cat', Fred likes to attend any meeting that's going on. His principal carer is Kathleen, the sacristan, who prepares his food; in early 2011 it was being served in 'controlled portions', as he was becoming rather too heavy and was supposed to be on a diet!
Famous Fred The Cat of St Pat's has many more images of Fred helping in the drive to raise funds for much-needed restoration of the church.
We have learned that Fred is also the star of a series of children's books. Four stories have been written by Eleanor MacDonald; they are suitable for children of all ages to read themselves or be read to.
Very many thanks to Father Michael Henesy for supplying us with the information and images of Fred.
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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