Cat
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Source: Heritage Image Partnership Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 30v


 

Cat

Latin name: Musio

Other names: Cattus, Muriceps, Murilegus, Muscio

An animal that is hostile to mice

 

 
General Attributes

Cats are the enemies of mice. Their eyesight is very good, and can penetrate the darkness of night.


Sources (chronological order)

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 2:38): The cat (musio) gets its name because it attacks the mouse (mus). Some say its name is cattus, from capture; others that it is cattat (sees) because it sees so sharply (acute) that it overcomes darkness.

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (De proprietatibus rerum, book 18): He is a full lecherous beast in youth, swift, pliant, and merry, and leapeth and reseth on everything that is to fore him: and is led by a straw, and playeth therewith: and is a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy, and lieth slyly in wait for mice: and is aware where they be more by smell than by sight, and hunteth and reseth on them in privy places: and when he taketh a mouse, he playeth therewith, and eateth him after the play. In time of love is hard fighting for wives, and one scratcheth and rendeth the other grievously with biting and with claws. And he maketh a ruthful noise and ghastful, when one proffereth to fight with another: and unneth is hurt when he is thrown down off an high place. And when he hath a fair skin, he is as it were proud thereof, and goeth fast about: and when his skin is burnt, then he bideth at home; and is oft for his fair skin taken of the skinner, and slain and flayed. (Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus (London, 1893/1905) Steele edition of 1905)


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