The time the Catholic Church declared cats satanic

Not everyone is a fan of cats. Some might even joke that they are Luciferian in nature. There was a point at which the Catholic Church fueled this belief.

Pope Gregory IX has not left a positive image of himself to posterity. The institution of the Papal Inquisition is generally considered the defining feature of his tenure. In fact, it was his zealous pursuit of heresy that led to Pope Gregory’s religiously sanctioned assault on cats.

Rumors of satanic cults in Germany had been circulating, and a grand inquisitor, Conrad of Marburg, had made a shocking “discovery” about these cult meetings. According to Conrad, unsuspecting individuals were being coaxed into joining the cult by a dog-sized frog and a pale man. Cult members would then worship a half-man, half-cat demonic creature who emerged from a statue of a black cat. The hybrid human-cat creature, once present at the meeting, would engage in orgies with cult members.

The Pope believed that the only rational response to this report was the papal bull Vox in Rama, which he issued in 1233. This papal bull revealed the dangerous cult to the public, and the public reacted by killing as many cats, especially black cats, as possible.

Unfortunately, this religious stand against demonic felines might have exacerbated the bubonic plague by eliminating a main deterrent to increased rodent populations. While this assertion continues to be a point of contention among historians, it is a sensible conclusion in light of the considerable reduction of Europe’s cat population following the bull. Ironically, Satan, and by extension black cats, would have been implicated in the spread of the plague at that time.