Carmina the Cathedral Cat

There are probably any number of cats who live and work in churches and cathedrals around the world, but only one cat can call Washington National Cathedral home – and she’s a tortoiseshell cat.

Her name is Carmina.  She is about eighteen months old, and was rescued by the Washington Humane Society, along with her litter of week-old kittens, from a deserted parking lot in Southeast Washington D.C.  The kittens had all found new homes after being fostered, but Carmina was going to be returned to the shelter, facing an uncertain future.   Cathedral Choral Society staffer Victoria Chamberlin did not want to see this happen, and led the charge for the Choral Society to adopt Carmina during its audience sing-a-long of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Carmina initially came to the cathedral for a one-month-trial period.  She turned out to be friendly and independent, and was ultimately chosen for her personality and her mouse-catching skills, which, Chamberlin says, are impeccable.  Carmina succeeds Catherine of Tarragon, a tuxedo cat who was adopted by the cathedral as a kitten 16 years ago to catch mice in the cathedral’s green house.  Catherine recently retired and now lives out her golden years in a private residence in Georgetown.  She summers in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Carmina leads a busy life.  She welcomes cathedral staff to work in the morning and usually wanders from office to office for petting, treats, and some play time.  In the afternoons, she likes to be outside to hunt mice before coming back inside for a nap and a snack.  She enjoys climbing trees, walking along pipes in the ceiling, and chasing her toy mice.  She doesn’t like having her ears cleaned, and she loves anything with turkey flavor.

Her favorite places are her bed at the top of the stairs, the window sill in the library, or the slate walkway in front of the library.  She is a lap cat and distributes her attention equally among staff members.  All of the Cathedral Choral Society staff take turns feeding and caring for her.

I asked Chamberlin whether Carmina attends services.  While Carmina is friendly, she tends to avoid crowds, so Chamberlin thinks she will probably  be sleeping in on Sundays.  The only service she has attended to date was the Blessing of the Animals.

If you’re in the Washington DC area, or are coming for a visit, Washington Cathedral is well worth adding to your list of places to see.  And you just might get to meet Carmina the Cathedral Cat.

Photos by Washington National Cathedral, Craig W. Stapert, photographer, used with permission.

17 Comments on Carmina the Cathedral Cat

  1. Ingrid
    November 4, 2010 at 8:51 pm (11 years ago)

    Isn’t this a great story, Esme?

    Angie, it seems that she was definitely meant for the kind of life she leads.

  2. Angie, Catladyland/Katt Food
    November 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm (11 years ago)

    What a great story! And what a wonderful life Carmina has — the purpose and freedom must feel fantastic to her 🙂

  3. Esme
    November 4, 2010 at 1:16 am (11 years ago)

    What a lovely story. She has quite the good life.

  4. SuperLou
    November 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm (11 years ago)


  5. Ingrid
    November 3, 2010 at 8:49 pm (11 years ago)

    Layla, Carmina gives new meaning to a cat with a higher purpose, doesn’t she?

    Lu-Ella, Carmina is one lucky cat for finding such a magnificent forever home, isn’t she?

    Wicked Cats, she has quite the life, doesn’t she?

  6. WickedCats
    November 3, 2010 at 8:32 pm (11 years ago)

    What a wonderful life she has! I’m so happy she was given a home with so many loving caretakers.

  7. Lu-Ella Sears
    November 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm (11 years ago)

    God has blessed each and everyone of you with the love of Carmina. I am so happy to read a beautiful story like this as so many animals are so mistreated. Thank You for giving Carmina a “FOREVER” home.

  8. Layla Morgan Wilde
    November 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm (11 years ago)

    Love stories of “working” cats. Carmina is living large in every sense of the word.

  9. Ingrid
    November 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm (11 years ago)

    Marg, it sounds like Carmina has a pretty good life, doesn’t it?

    I’m glad you enjoyed Carmina’s story and photos, Gracey and Madame Purl.

    Mason, it was, of course, the fact that she’s a tortie, that made me want to know more about her.

    Aren’t the folks at the Cathedral lucky to have Carmina, Gracie?

    Ace, love it!

  10. Ace
    November 3, 2010 at 9:13 am (11 years ago)

    Purrhaps we could even call her Carmina Purrana!!!

  11. GracieShelter
    November 3, 2010 at 8:05 am (11 years ago)

    Beautiful Carmina! How fortunate you are to have her living with you!

  12. Madame Purl
    November 3, 2010 at 7:55 am (11 years ago)

    What a lovely kitty and story. Great pictures of her too.

  13. Gracey, The Tiniest Tiger
    November 3, 2010 at 7:38 am (11 years ago)

    This was so nice to read first thing this morning. Thank you for this nice story.

  14. Marg
    November 3, 2010 at 7:16 am (11 years ago)

    Wow, that is so terrific. She must have such a good life there wandering around from office to office and she gets to go outside too. That is such a good story. Thanks for telling us about it. Take care and have a great day.


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Carmina the Cathedral Cat

  1. […] The story of Carmina the Cathedral Cat, the resident cat at Washington’s National Cathedral, captured my readers’ heart I first wrote about her in November of 2010. I thought her story should be shared with a wider audience, so I pitched it to Cat Fancy magazine a while back. Last week, my editor approved the story for the June issue of the magazine. […]

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    […] The Conscious Cat and Episcopal Cafe] « Previous Article It’s Not Just the Dogs: Cats Also Make Owners […]

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