Medieval monks were put to work making “illuminated manuscripts” – holy books in which every page was filled with beautiful works of art. Sometimes, they would fill the page with beautiful patterns of flowers and ivy. Sometimes, they would add depth to the words by illustrating the stories. And sometimes, they’d just draw cats licking their butts.
Butt licking cats is a weirdly common theme in medieval art, and nobody’s really sure why. The theory is that they were just etched in the margins by bored monks who wanted to amuse themselves. They thought the idea of sneaking in naughty pictures of cats into serious books was funny. So the monks would pass long, boring days scribbling pictures of these beautiful creatures taking care of their basic hygiene.
But that’s just a theory. Only one medieval monk ever commented on it, and as far as he was concerned, his fellow monks were just wasting time and precious ink. “Good Lord,” he wrote. “Even if the foolishness of it all occasions no shame, at least one might balk at the expense.”
Maybe it was not just monks. Maybe many people made drawings of them, sketched them in their free time… Think about it, medieval times must have been extremely boring, and a cat licking its own butthole must have been one of very few tools to brighten the day and make it that much more interesting. Sadly, only the monk creations have stood the test of time and survived to present day.
If you liked this gallery and generally enjoy looking at silly medieval art, you should also check out Happy People Being Slaughtered, but if you are intrigued by cat butts, you will probably want to buy Crocheted Cat Butt Coasters.