The city of York, England has been celebrating cats with a tradition of feline public statues for over a century.
With a strong concentration in the city center, the cat statues of York are scattered on eaves, rooftops, and chimneys all around the town. The original pair of metal cats date roughly to the turn of the century, and it is believed—though it’s likely apocryphal—that they were designed to scare the rats from the nearby river.
Then, in the 1980’s, architect Tom Adams commissioned sculptor Johnathan Newdick to create several new cat sculptures, and use the historic originals as inspiration for a new town tradition. Adams placed a cat sculpture somewhere on each of the buildings he designed in the area and soon other business and building owners started following suit, creating a new identity for the town and a small cottage industry of cat-related tourist shops.
There are now 22 cat sculptures throughout the city and many businesses offer maps of the “York Cat Walk.” However, due to constant theft and new additions to the public collection, many of the mousers listed on the maps prove as elusive as any real cat.
Know Before You Go
Due to their popularity and accessibility, the cats may be targets of theft or damage. To help one uncover their various locations, there are maps available. York Lucky Cats, # 34 The Shambles, offers a free map. A booklet can be purchased at the York Gin shop, # 12 Pavement.