Cat Museum at Lnare Chateau

While Lnare Chateau in pond-dotted south Bohemia is best known for its Baroque frescoes and chapel, it also features a Cat Museum that was founded in 2005. The museum shows off the chateau owners’ affinity for cats. While the museum may be small – consisting of four rooms – it is a real treat for cat lovers.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition are three mummified cats from Thebes as well as a 2-meter tall copy of a statue of the Egyptian god Bastet, symbolized by a cat. The original statue was created sometime between the 8 BC and the 4 BC.

three mummified cats from Thebes

What fascinated me most were the numerous cats featured on coats-of-arms of towns in Europe. I had seen many coats-of-arms of noble families during my weekly castle-hopping in the spring and summer, but I had never seen a cat on one.

Coats-of-arms of towns in Europe featuring cats
Coats-of-arms of towns in Europe featuring cats

Items displayed include hundreds of cat figures made from ceramic, glass, wood and porcelain. I especially liked the thick brush on the top of a cat’s body. It was used for cleaning shoes when a person stepped indoors. I also was drawn to a white cat figure with brightly colored polka dots and a cat with a rainbow painted on its rainbow-shaped body. They were cheerful, and I needed cheerfulness during the coronavirus pandemic. A porcelain white cat decorated with painted ivy and holly reminded me of the joy I always felt at Christmas time. I collected cat figures, so I studied them closely.

Ceramic and wood cat figurines

A brightly colored painting of a cat by Frantisek Pon stood out for me. I was very glad this artist is represented in the museum because his work definitely belongs there. Every year I hang a calendar of Pon’s delightful paintings of felines in my dining room. Looking at the cats, the detail of the surrounding objects and the people in the monthly entrees always makes me happy. The paintings emit pure joy, reminding me how much cats have meant to me during my life. The works show cats as sometimes mischievous, sometimes lazy but always loving. The picture for September 2020 shows two plump cats lounging on a bookcase showing off colorful spines, including three books by Pon as wells as books about fish, the sea and sex. I love the Cezanne painting of a Brittany landscape in the upper right-hand corner of the room. November features a cat guarding a cooked turkey in a blue pot. Another month shows a woman staring through a window at cats and goldfinches. 

A brightly colored painting of a cat by Frantisek Pon 

Pon is a pseudonym for the married couple Jitka Baliharova and Oldrich Pribik, who began their career by preparing children’s picture books in the 1980s. Now they create paintings, lithographs and books about cats and life.

The figures of black cats caught my undivided attention because I like black cats best. They are the least likely to be adopted and are said to be bad luck, but I think they are the most beautiful and that they bring good luck. In 1999, I adopted a black kitten I named after Czech beerguzzling and moody writer Bohumil Hrabal, whose works Too Loud A Solitude, I Served the King of England and Closely Watched Trains are several titles of the best fiction I have read. His works are known for their anecdotes and witty, black humor. He also had many cats and wrote about them. 

My Bohumil Hrabal was feisty and devilish, occasionally biting my face to wake me up early in the morning or vomiting on white IKEA rugs to get attention. When I first brought him home as a two-month old kitten, he urinated on my bedspread, which was a Czech flag. Still, I loved him. To put it simply, he was my world.

After Bohumil died nearing the age of 15, I adopted a four-year old black cat from a shelter. She had been abused by children during the years before I met her and had had a miserable first four years. I named her after Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk, the American first First Lady of Czechoslovakia. I call her the Czech version of Charlotte – Sarlota – because she is Czech. I didn’t rescue her; we rescued each other. I had such an emptiness in my heart, and then there was Sarlota at the shelter walking up to me, asking to be petted. It never ceases to surprise me how friendly and loving she is even though she had been abused. She didn’t lose her faith in people despite her bad experiences. I love spoiling her and petting her when she jumps on my chest while I am reading or watching TV.

On the walls of the museum are cat-themed panels filled with information about cats in literature and the arts, for instance. A look at the relationship between people and cats covered part of one wall. I was pleased that the information on cats in literature mentioned Bohumil Hrabal. All the writing is in Czech only. 

Lnare Chateau itself is intriguing. A bridge with six statues from the 18th century leads to the chateau. Built in the late 17th century, it exudes the Baroque style. The frescoes on the walls and ceilings of the interior are astounding, and stucco decoration adds to the splendor. The Baroque Chapel of Saint Joseph amazes with its frescoes featuring the life of Saint Joseph and other personalities from the Old Testament. The chapel hails from 1654. 

Many weddings are held in the chateau, and the bride and groom can stay overnight there. Other guests can rent rooms in the chateau, too. A fishing exhibit is also on the premises. There is a beautiful park. A tour of the chateau lasts 45 minutes.

If a cat has ever stolen your heart and become your best friend, you will enjoy the rooms full of cat-related artifacts in the Cat Museum. You can buy a small souvenir such as a cat figure, bookmark or bracelet at the entrance to the museum.

Cat Museum at Lnare Chateau

Opening times:

May, June and September: weekends and holidays from 10 am to 4 pm

July and August: every day except Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm. (Webpage in Czech only.)

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Tracy A. Burns

Tracy A. Burns is a writer who has lived in Prague for more than 25 years. She has written about travel for her blog Tracy’s Travels at, Private Prague Guide Prague Blog and The Washington Post, among others. She has also published theatre, film and art reviews. Her book reviews and essays on Czech and Slovak literature have appeared in Kosmas, a Czechoslovak academic journal. Her articles in Czech and Slovak have appeared in numerous publications, such as Listy, Literární noviny and Reflex.