One Time a Cat Peed on a 15th Century Manuscript While the Monks Weren’t Looking

But were they catholic monks? Ehhh? Eehhhhhhh?

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Some cats are friendly and others are more territorial, but regardless of differences in personality, all cats have one clear objective: to pee on the things you love. It has always been this way throughout history. For example, here is a page of a medieval manuscript that a cat peed on, making a real mess for one Monk scribe.

The document, which also has what looks like a shitty drawing of a cat with some fingers wagging at it, looks like this:



On a more serious, scholarly note, isn’t it fascinating how the two different pages are written? On the left is very dense, flowing script that’s clearly put down very deliberately, and on the right is a lighter, more scribbled sideways note — like the scribe took his time with the former and hastily jotted down the latter to explain the behavior of his dumb cat. Assuming that the same scribe wrote both texts, of course, it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Anyway, sorry about the art history nerdery. Let’s get back to cats peeing on stuff.

In case you can’t read medieval Latin very well, the transcription is as follows:

“Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”

Which roughly translates to:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.

So, as a bonus, if you’ve ever wanted to shout at your cat in Latin, that’s probably how you would do it.

(via TYWKIWDBI and Medieval Manuscripts, manuscript image via Cologne, Historisches Archiv, G.B. quarto, 249, fol. 68r; featured image via Steinsky on Twitter)

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