Today I, Miss Cuddlywumps, shall take you back in time to the Dark Ages of Europe, between the years 500 and 1000 (roughly). It was a period of cultural decline after the fall of the once-mighty Roman Empire. There were humans. There were rats. There were cats. The rats infested humans’ food (they also spread plague, though I am not sure the humans had figured that out yet; you humans are so slow sometimes). The cats killed the rats. Thus, cats were valuable. Cats were so valuable that humans wrote legal statutes about them, like this one from 10th-century Wales:
“The price of a cat is fourpence. Her qualities are to see, to hear, to kill mice, to have her claws whole, and to nurse and not devour her kittens.”*
Now you are probably wondering if four pence is a lot. If you are American, you are probably also wondering what in Hades a pence is anyway. Well, pence is the plural for a British penny, and there are 100 of them in a British pound. As of this writing, four pence is about seven cents in U.S. money.
Now you are probably thinking something like “Surely a cat is worth more than seven cents!” If you are thinking that, you are correct; we cats are worth much more. She of Little Talent helped me with some calculations, and we figure that four pence in the 14th century would be worth about $15.77 today.†
Now you are probably confused because I suddenly mentioned the 14th century, which is a whole 400 years later than the 10th-century Welsh cat statute above. Please blame old SoLT for your confusion. She could not find a source that went back to the 10th century, so she looked at me and said in all seriousness, “This will be close enough. It’s only off by 400 years.” You see how I must suffer.
Because old SoLT let me down (again), I have had to use my stunning intelligence to calculate how much four pence in the 10th century would be worth in U.S. dollars today. The answer is: $3,692.37. This is how much a cat is worth. Roughly.
[*Old SoLT is in the corner reminding me to tell you that this quote is from the book Cat Sense by John Bradshaw, p. 52.]
[†Old SoLT did these mysterious calculations using information from various sources on the Internet. Therefore, the resulting figure is more than likely wrong.]