Mysterious mummified cat found buried in gran’s cellar coming up for auction

Posted on 07/10/2020 in Press Coverage

A mysterious mummified cat found buried in a house in a Transylvanian city mentioned in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel is coming up for auction.

The find was made by 40-year-old artist Valentin in his late grandmother’s house in Bistrita, the capital city of Bistrița-Năsăud County, in northern Transylvania, Romania. In Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, Bistrita is Jonathan Harker’s first stopover before going to Count Dracula’s castle.

Now the cat is set be sold at Hansons Auctioneers’ Library Auction in Staffordshire on October 13 with a guide price of £800-£1,200 – and bidders are expected to come out in force for what is an ancient good luck charm entrenched in folklore.

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ Library Auction, said: “Dried or mummified bodies of cats are often found concealed within structures in the British Isles, northern Europe and North America.

“It was customary to place the dried body of a cat inside the walls of a newly-built home to ward off evil spirits or as a good luck charm. Cats were known to sense ghosts and other supernatural beings, and dried cats were sometimes placed in locations deemed vulnerable to witches entering the house, in this case the cellar. With Halloween nearly upon us, this has to be the ultimate quirky and rather spooky find.”cat2

Valentin, from Berlin, Germany, said: “My brother Adrian and I found the cat in the wall of my grandma’s house, which was built in 1921. We were cleaning the cellar when we noticed a crack in the wall and decided to loosen the bricks to see what was behind it. We thought we might find a hidden room or compartment.

“As I removed some of the bricks, I noticed something that looked like a miniature head of an animal. My first thought, after removing more bricks and seeing the entire body, was that it might be a miniature sculpture of a tiger. As I shone the flashlight on it, I had mixed feelings of what it might be.

“I still thought it was a sculpture until I touched it, took it out and realised by the lightness of it that it was something else. For a moment I was paralysed in thought and astonished by what I had found. It left me with many questions about how the cat got there, who put it there and about the previous owners of the house.

“We placed the cat on a piece of paper and took it out of the cellar to have a closer look at it in the sunlight. We also went to the cadastral office in Bistrita and requested a historic document to trace back all the owners of the house.

“We have not been able to find any additional information on who the owners were. It remains very mysterious. We are planning to have a closer look at all the rooms, the cellar and the attic next time we go to the house.”

The mummified cat, lot 229, will be sold on October 13 in Hansons’ Library Auction. To find out more, email [email protected] or view the catalogue at