About Me

My photo
Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

cat science, circa 1250 ad

Bestiaries were medieval works that served a purpose somewhere between natural history, philosophy, and iconography. I've found a lovely compendium from The Cloisters in New York:
A Cloisters Bestiary (New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1960).

Here's the entry on cats:

The cat is a merry animal when it is young. It plays and leaps about and can be
led to play with a straw. In older age it waxes fat and sleepy, but in spite of
this, it is quick and fearsome to mice. When a cat with his stealth and cunning
catches a mouse, he will play with him at his leisure. When the play is done he
will eat the mouse. The cat is remarkable in one feature: if he is thrown down
from a high place, he will land unharmed on his four feet. Also, his eyes shine
so that he can see clearly in the dark.
In the season of love a cat will fight continually with other cats for his wife. There is great screeching and crying as they rend one another fiercely with their claws. The cat that has a fine pelt is proud of it and shows it off, but if his coat is damaged or burnt, he sits at home dejected.
The cat with the fair coat must be quick or he may end up at the furrier's.

No comments: