Nearly everyone has heard of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, but Lewis Carroll didn’t make up the Cheshire Cat himself. Legend says that in medieval times, Cheshire cheese was sold in cat-shaped pieces and that may have inspired Lewis Carroll.

Another possibility is that four miles from Carroll’s birthplace, a church depicts a snarling sandstone cat set high on a tower above an arched window. While this cat lacks a mischievous grin, it could also be the inspiration for Carroll’s cat. Ultimately, nobody knows how Lewis Carroll came up with the Cheshire Cat but we’re all happy that he did.

To learn more about the history of the Cheshire Cat, click here.