This is not a post about our darling cat, Tilly, who as far as we are concerned is THE cat of Aberdeen. This isn’t actually a post about real cats at all, but about symbolic ones. Cats, and leopards in particular, are an important part of the iconography of Aberdeen. Let me try to explain:
Here is a cast-iron version of the city crest that graces one of the older squares of the city. As you can see, there are two leopards holding a shield. Apparently, James I of Scotland granted the (symbolic) leopards to the city of Aberdeen because the city underwrote his expenses while he was in exile in England in the early 15th century (R M Urquhart, Scottish Burgh and County Heraldry, London, 1973, via Wikipedia).
The local history magazine is called The Leopard, the shopper’s creche is called “Leaping Leopards” and one of the city’s Christmas decorations is a leopard:
I really love this leopard, and look forward to seeing it prowling through the empty flowerbeds every year!
Just over a hundred years ago, Aberdeen’s leopards took shape in the form of what are now fondly known as “Kelly’s cats”. The architect William Kelly was commissioned to decorate the newly-widened Union Street Bridge in 1908, and he chose to do so with these leopards:
Last of all, departing slightly from leopards but staying with the big cats, there is the stately granite lion of Cowdray Hall:
So there you go – some of the (other) cats of Aberdeen.