As you look at your spoilt feline sleeping in the sun, think about the poor cats living in Medieval times. Life was not so good for our little purring friends then. The church, to deflect criticism from it's many faults and failings, needed a scapegoat, and witchcraft proved just the thing. Due to the cats perceived powers of black magic, a frenzy of blame was heeped on it's furry shoulders. According the the majority, any misfortune was brought about by the evil cat, and it's accomplice, the witch. One misfortune was the Bubonic Plague. Tens of thousand of cats were put to death in superstitious revenge. The irony being the plague was carried by fleas and ticks on rats, the very thing cats so often killed. By destroying the cat population, the disease was actually encouraged to spread.
Fortunately, not everyone felt threatened by cats, millers (for obvious reasons), and sailors encouraged cats to stay close by. In England, an official ship's cat was considered good luck, and if a cat jumped ship bad news was coming. An official cat also resided at Exeter Cathedral in England. Today, the specially cut cat door can still be seen there. You can visit Exeter Cathedral's site by clicking HERE.
There's an interesting article about medieval cats at the Gode Cookery site. That's a great site in general if you're intrigued by the medieval era. It's also where I lifted a couple of the pictures included in this entry.