Bringing old homes up to scratch is nothing out of the ordinary for property renovators Andrew and George Hartley. But this professional couple nearly jumped out their skin when greeted by their most recent form of preservation – as a mummified cat fell on them.
The couple got a face full of the ancient feline as they removed ceilings from an 18th century property in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
Mr Hartley was removing plasterwork and ceilings, to assess what work was needed, when the strange discovery fell from within the roof.
He said ‘It is well preserved, and I think it has very likely been up there over 100 years at least. We had a look on the internet and it seems that this sort of find is quite uncommon.’
Although experts are not 100 per cent sure if the cat was dead or alive when it was mummified it is thought that because it was positioned in the roof it was mummified intentionally, whilst alive.
According to folklore, it is said that cats were often put in to walls of properties as a sort of good luck charm and Mrs Hartley added ‘Dead cats were put in houses to supposedly ward off evil spirits. During the renovation work, we have also found remains of lots of dried onions around the house, again signs of warding off unwelcome spirits.
‘We don’t know if this cat would have been put up in the roof before it died, but it has no teeth which indicates it was an old cat that had died, or perhaps it lost its teeth trying to get out of the space. Since we have had it, already the body is starting to change and has started to soften since being exposed to the elements. It had obviously been perfectly preserved up there. We’re not sure what we’ll do with it now, but maybe we should bury it back in the foundations of the house where it came from.’