Last Updated on 21/07/2022
If you are looking for fun and different things to do in York, you should try the York Cat Trail on your next visit. This self-guided tour takes you through the streets of the city to locate 22 historic feline friends. This guide covers everything you need to know about the York Cat Trail before you go.
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What is the York cat trail?
York has become closely associated with this furry friend. Many of the buildings and rooftops in York are adorned with cat statues. The York Cat Trail is a self-guided walk that you can follow to spot all of York’s feline residents.
You can pick up a flyer in many local York stores or download one online. Then get ready to visit York and walk some of the most famous streets in the city to try and spot the cats of York.
Why are there cat statues in York?
It is believed that statues of cats have been placed on buildings in York for around two centuries. The oldest ones are thought to date from the earliest 19th century. The two cats in Low Ousegate were added to the building by owner Sir Stephen Aitcheson around 1820.
The origin of the cats is not known, although some people claim that the cats were added to buildings to scare away rats who carry plague and other illnesses. Other, more mundane options have also been proposed, such as attracting visitors into stores or simply to entertain children.
Whatever their origin, the cats in York are certainly entertaining visitors today!
How many cat statues are there in york?
The full trail has 22 cat statues for you to find throughout the city. Most of them are positioned high up on buildings or rooftops, so make sure you look up! Some cats are easier to spot than others so you will have to keep your eyes open and hunt around for some cleverly disguised ones.
How long does the York cat trail take?
If you pick up the flyer from York Glass, you have two options when it comes to the York cat trail. The first eight cats make up what is known as the ‘pedestrian friendly cat trail’. This route is a short, leisurely stroll that will take you approximately 30 minutes – more if you want to browse shops along the way!
The full route has 22 cats to find, and is still pedestrian friendly, it will just take you longer to complete. At a gentle pace, it will take you about two hours to find all 22 cats on the York cat trail.
How long is the York cat trail?
The shorter route to see the first eight cats is about half a mile (0.8k). If you want to see all 22 cats, the route is around 2.5 miles (4km).
Both routes follow pavements so are easy to negotiate. There are some steps on the route to the Low Ousegate bridge over the river but if you wanted to avoid the steps, you could follow the footpath on King Street and rejoin further up Low Ousegate without missing any of the cat statues.
Where can I get a York cat trail guide?
Many of the local stores stock copies of the York Cat Trail map. It is possible to download versions of the map online, however, I strongly recommend you pick one up in person to make sure you have the most up to date version.
York Cat Trail is predominently promoted by two stores, York Glass (34 Shambles, York, YO1 7LX) and The Cat Gallery ( 45 Low Petergate, York,YO1 7HT).
Both stores are home to cats on the trail, and each has their own version of the Cat Trail map. If you pick it up from one of these stores, the map they provide will use that store as your starting point.
We used the York Glass version of the map and started our trail in the Shambles. Due to the location of The Cat Gallery, I don’t believe their version of the map includes the optional shorter pedestrian route.
York Glass cats
Wherever you start the route, you should definitely pop in to York Glass in the Shambles when you pass by. York Glass has become closely associated with cats due to their production of York Glass cats. These cats are hand crafted in the 12 birthstone colours and are said to bring good luck.
If you can’t visit York in person right now, you can still buy your own lucky cat online.
York cat shop – The Cat Gallery
If you are a cat lover or have a cat lover in your life, you need to stop by The Cat Gallery, the famous York cat shop. In this shop you will find an expansive collection of quirky gifts, homewares, games and more that are all cat themed. You can obviously pick up a treat for your own feline friend too!
Why I love York Cat Trail
I think York Cat Trail is a great way to explore the city. As a cat lover, I’m biased, but whether you’re a fan of cats or not, everyone can have fun searching for the cats on this unique treasure hunt.
No matter how many times you have visited the city, you won’t have spotted all of these cats. In fact, you’ll be surprised you haven’t seen them before! I used a photo of The Golden Fleece pub in my York Bucket List post and never even spotted the cat who lives there! Go check the photo if you don’t believe me!
Also, the York Cat Trail is completely free! What’s not to love?
So, if you’re looking for a unique tour of York or a fun family activity in the city, I would strongly recommend you try out the York Cat Trail.
Other York walking trails
There are a number of York walking tours around the city. Depending on what you are looking for, there are several themed walks to choose from. You also have guided and non-guided options.
Here are some of my favourite York walking tours:
York claims to be the most haunted city in the UK. And with such a long and turbulent history, it is unsurprising. If you want to learn more about York’s resident ghosts, you can join an evening ghost walk and visit some of York’s most haunted locations.
Treasure Hunt York
This is a city tour with a difference. Rather than simply following a guide or reading an information leaflet, Treasure Hunt York is an interactive adventure that takes you to some of York’s top sights to seek answers to clues. Check out my review here to get an exclusive discount code.
Snickelways of York
Snickelways is a term synonymous with York. The term was coined as a combination of a ‘snicket,’ ‘ginnel,’ and ‘alleyway’, which are all popular terms for a narrow footpath between buildings.
You can experience the hidden world of York’s Snickelways through the book A Walk around the Snickelways of York. This beautiful guide is hand illustrated with 85 maps and sketches so that you can discover the history of these hidden passageways.
Other York Tours
Other things to do when visiting York
If you love to unearth the hidden side of the city and you want to explore more trails in York, why not try one of these other options on your visit:
- If you loved cryptic puzzles, you’ll enjoy Treasure Hunt York. This is an interactive hunt where you search for clues and test your wits to see if you can join the pirate crew.
- The Secret City York is another great interactive trail. Solve the clues and watch a real-life historic event unfold before your eyes!
- Explore the magical side of York on this Harry Potter themed tour.
- If you are travelling with young kids, Wizard Walk of York is a fun trail full of magic and games. No spooky stories on this one! Ideal for children between the ages of 5-10.
- Have you strolled down York’s secret streets? Discover the Snickelways of York and see what you’ve been missing!
- If you’re planning a winter visit, make sure you don’t miss York Ice Trail, a magical two-day ice trail through the city.
- See the sights with the convenience of a hop on hop off bus tour.
- Discover the creepy side of York on this Witches and History Old Town walking tour.
Planning your trip to York
If you are planning a visit and are looking for things to do in York, here are some resources to help you out.
You can discover my 13 favourite things to do in York in my York bucket list. This guide includes a whole range of activities including museums, historic sites and more. You can read it now to discover enough activities to fill at least three days in York!
And, if you are planning a romantic weekend getaway to York, check out these romantic things to do in York for couples here.
Where to stay in York
Find a great deal on your accommodation on booking.com. I have stayed in and personally recommend Middletons Hotel. However, York is full of incredible accommodation options, so you’re sure to find the perfect place for your stay.
Before you go
So, if you’re ready to track down York’s feline friends on the York Cat Trail, be sure to bookmark this page or pin it using the pin below so you can revisit this guide!
Until our next adventure,