Medieval Paintings of Cats Licking Their Butts

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.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

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.

Cat licking his butt.

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.”

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

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.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Butt licking medieval cat art.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

Medieval art of cat licking his butt.

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.



 Add your comment
  1. Anonymous July 22, 2019

    Because their b**hole is more important than you lol

  2. Cherie July 23, 2019

    That tenth picture looks like a dog to me, but this is still pretty funny. Those monks must have loved their cats!

  3. cat July 23, 2019


  4. Unseeliepixie July 23, 2019

    Kudos to the monk who was ballsy enough to place a picture of a cat licking its butt right above a picture of Jesus.

  5. Anonymous July 23, 2019

    If we could reach we’d never leave the house

  6. Anonymous July 23, 2019

    I wonder if these are available as prints or reproductions? Because these have Merry Christmas written all over them. Do you have a source?

  7. Anonymous July 23, 2019

    Perhaps it’s the bendiness of cats. They needed something circular to fill a spot, and the nearby mouser was inspirational.

  8. Alison July 23, 2019

    There must have been other pictures of cats

  9. Anonymous July 24, 2019

    Probably a bit of showing off too ,as drawing a cat all twisted round is quite tricky.There must have been lots of monastery cats around to act as models.

  10. Lone July 24, 2019

    I’m afraid there could be a more sinister explanation. The bottom-licking can have been considered an obscene and grotesque behaviour – and that might have been seen as a proof of cat’s diabolic nature. Cats were haunted together with witches in those days, alas.

  11. Anonymous July 24, 2019

    And that’s how you get the plague.

  12. Felix July 24, 2019

    At least cats and dogs keep it clean down there. That’s a lot more than I can say for many of humans that I know.

  13. Catasstrophy July 25, 2019

    I think Lone has it right. In the days of the Bubonic Plague, the cat was seen as a diabolic presence. They were killed and expelled, and the rats proliferated. The fleas on the rats bore the plague, and Europe lost 60% of its population. The rest is history.

  14. Anonymous July 25, 2019

    can you please include the citations to these manuscripts so we can see these in their entirety?

  15. Anonymous July 26, 2019

    A very informative snippet of info which gets to the bottom of the subject

  16. Fie July 26, 2019

    13th picture took me a minute to find. HINT: There’s a red arrow pointing at it. Still can’t see it? Stop staring at the medieval six pack ya perv. You know you’re doing it. STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! Just breathe.

  17. Laurie Cicotello July 27, 2019

    It was better than the “CATS” trailer. I’d look at this again and again!!

  18. jmuhj July 27, 2019

    Cat P0rn. Popular for hundreds of years.

  19. G.E.R.R.Y. July 28, 2019

    One monk said “I wish I could do that.”
    The other monk said “You probably can, but I don’t think the cat would like it.”

  20. Jadrien July 30, 2019

    The plague happened after a certain Pope declared cats to be evil and had a mass extermination of them. The result was that the rat and mice population grew out of control leading to the plague.

  21. Siiri Cressey August 7, 2019

    #3 KNOWS they’ve been seen.
    Whomever made #5 clearly had no idea how cats cat.
    Whomever made #7 clearly was very skilled. Three-dimensional accuracy before it was much of a thing in Europe!
    #11: Awwww…lioness (I assume the artist did not know lionesses do not have manes) cleaning her children.

  22. Anonymous August 8, 2019

    g.e.r.r.y., thanks fer that, still chucklin’.
    turns out adorable gerbils brought th’plague from asia
    more unfair chinese trade practices

  23. Happy Bumlicker August 9, 2019

    The idea that cats were somehow condemned by the Church in the Middle Ages is a pernicious myth.

  24. Anonymous August 14, 2019

    Criminy…the cave painters were better artists than those monks!!!!!!

  25. No one cares August 16, 2019

    How majestic 😂

  26. Anonymous September 2, 2019

    The nice thing about this is that it suggests that animal cruelty in the Middle Ages was not as pervasive as I had previously thought.

  27. Anonymous September 10, 2019

    The one with prominently displayed testicles is actually likely a beaver–in bestiary descriptions, they chew off their testicles so that hunters who would otherwise kill the beavers to take them for castoreum.

  28. cat admirer October 24, 2019

    seems there are as many theories as cats…and reasonably so because each monk might have had a different opinion about this feline proclivity. whatever, seems to work for the cats.

  29. Susannah October 26, 2019

    Why would you think that ‘medieval times must have been really boring’???? I would say entirely the opposite!

  30. YeOldeCatButte October 26, 2019

    I think it’s because when cats get into their butts they look like they’re in an impossible position of rapture which the medieval artists were won’t to portray. So I believe it was like a meta humor thing.

  31. #1AnimalButtFan October 27, 2019

    This is just plain awesome! :)

  32. Anonymous October 27, 2019

    That’s the last time I French kiss a cat, sick bastards!

  33. Anonymous November 19, 2019

    I think they were jealous and wished they could do the same

  34. Anonymous November 21, 2019

    This is hilarious. 10th pic though is actually a badger (from an artist who had no idea what they were drawing). In medieval bestiaries badgers are depicted tearing off there testicles to throw off hunters chasing them. Which, uh, makes as much sense as this badger depiction.

  35. Anonymous December 2, 2019

    One pic was a lion licking her cub. what I’ve noticed about Medieva; cat pics is they usually have overly long snouts or their faces look oddly human. And if they catch a mouse it’s held in their front paws in weirdly human pose.

  36. Anonymous December 2, 2019

    of maybe his cubs, since the lion has a mane.

  37. Anonymous December 4, 2019


  38. Anonymous March 4, 2020

    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.

    True to this day I guess

  39. Jolene March 5, 2020

    Monk Art Director says: We have a glaring space there by the third paragraph that needs something…a burst maybe?
    Monk Designer: I got this.

  40. JusSayin March 7, 2020

    Shows you how insular the world of the monks was. Did this satisfy some primal need? Hmmm…

  41. Anonymous April 2, 2020

    I and Pangur Ban, my cat
    “Tis a like task we are at…

  42. Anonymous April 29, 2020

    I remember reading somewhere that it was believed that lion cubs were born dead and were licked into life by the father lion. Symbolizing…… something .

  43. Anonymous September 11, 2020

    Jesus looks like he’s stoned in the 13th picture

  44. Anonymous November 29, 2020

    There is an untold message with those cats, a secret meaning that was lost. To go around censorship I would say.

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