Postcard: paws for thought

Among the myriad tourist delights within the beautiful old walled city of York are numerous life-sized cat statuettes.

This makes the city a mecca for cat people, that particular breed of human whose love for the furry beasts often defines them.

Of all the types of animal people I don't get, cat people are somewhere in the middle. Not as weird as snake people, weirder than ferret people.

Cat people are passionate about their animals and bestow on them the utmost care and affection, despite their feline "friends" treating them like kitty litter.

Of course, there are degrees of the condition, from those who simply like hairy pets to those who believe their Persians can pull off the Christmas knitwear look and never eat Chinese food, just in case.

Extreme cases even wash their cats, even though it can take them hours to clean the hair off their tongues. To me, cats are selfish, arrogant narcissists. Full stop.

Unless you are watching them walk away, in which case it's more like an exclamation mark.

The cats of York began to appear in the early 19th century and were supposed to scare away disease-carrying mice and rats.

They were also thought to ward off evil ghouls, which York has by the spirit-load. There are supposed to be more than 500 ghosts floating about in the city, which claims to be the most haunted in England.


The cats are also considered to bring luck because of their legendary nine lives and their ability to land on their feet.

Whether this luck extends to cat people being able to get a date remains unproven.

There are about 20 porcelain pussies in the town. Most are set high above the streets and snickelways (a York-specific word for the skinny alleys that criss-cross it), perched on ledges and chimneys, eaves and windowsills.

For most they are a curiosity to be noticed on the way to somewhere interesting but if you are a complete weirdo - sorry, cat person - you can get a map of the "Fabulous York Cat Trail" (now with the exciting, all-new Kitten Trail) and tick them off one by one (see

In truth, the statues are quite lifelike and are often portrayed in action poses, ready to pounce. I notice one that looks to be stalking a live pigeon, which is ignoring it as if to say "Yeah, right, I'm really scared!"

And don't miss the Cat Gallery of York at 45 Petergate where you can pick up everything cat: cat toys, cat flaps, cat scratchers, cat collars and ID tags, scarves, socks, shirts, ornaments, tote bags, earrings, even a cat radiator bed to hang over your heater.

You can also buy a door mat that says "A Crazy Cat Lady Lives Here" but if you like the sound of this shop, you probably already have one.

The writer was a guest of Visit Britain and the Mount Royale Hotel, York.