Beast

Sources : Cat

Herodotus [c. 484 – c. 425 BCE] (Histories, Book 2) There are many household animals [in Egypt]; and there would be many more, were it not for what happens to the cats. When the females have kittened they will not consort with the males; and these seek them but cannot get their will of them; so their device is to steal and carry off and kill the kittens (but they do not eat what they have killed). The mothers, deprived of their young and desiring to have more will then consort with the males; for they are creatures that love offspring. - [Godley translation]

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 94): Then how silently and with what a light tread do cats creep up to birds! how stealthily they watch their chance to leap out on tiny mice! They scrape up the earth to bury their droppings, realizing that the smell of these gives them away. - [Rackham translation]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 2:38): The mouser [musio] is so called because it is troublesome to mice [mus]. Common people call it the cat [cattus from ‘catching’ [captura]. Others say it is so named because cattat, that is, “it sees” – for it can see so keenly [acute] that with the gleam of its eyes it overcomes the darkness of night. Hence ‘cat’ comes from Greek, that is, ‘clever’. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1230-1245 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Quadrupeds 4.44): [Thomas describes the cat under the names and museo.] [Quadrupeds 4.44] A cat [feles] is a beast, as Pliny says, which, although it may be small in body, yet its malice is very great. This kind of animal remains on the ground. Therefore, when they lie in wait for the animals in caves, they throw out their dung and cover it with earth, so that those who pass by do not realize that their smell is a sign of their location. Therefore, seeing the animals passing by, it indeed proceeds in silence, dragging light steps with heavy weight. Nor does he tarry when he sees the prey well placed in his mouth or with his claws, or it leaps unexpectedly and cruelly after it stalks the prey. By this beast are signified the oppressors of the poor, who, throwing out dung, confess to certain famous and religious men, that they may appear good; and under this pretext they are hidden. [Quadrupeds 4.76] Musius or murilegus - or 'cat', as in Greek it is called 'cunning' - sees so keenly that even in the darkest caves it sees mice as if by day and, as is certain, overcomes the darkness of the night with its carbuncle eyes and the brightness of its light. The animal is dirty and hateful. It pursues mice and all their kind, and when it catches them, it first plays with them, and then eats them. There are also poisonous buffones [some sort of insect or reptile], with whom they are said to fight. But after the battle, unless they quickly find water to drink, they dry up with thirst. They are also said to fight with serpents, whose venomous stings are repelled, and the cats are not killed. As the Experimentator says, the cat at the time of copulation is willingly made wild. It imitates washing his face by licking it with his front feet. They have serrated teeth. They fight with each other most cruelly, and this often, in order to obtain the usual boundaries of their hunting. They are very easily provoked to play by men; they rejoice in flattery. They love warm places, whence they burn their skins from excessive laziness. They have long hairs around the edges, which, if removed, cause them to lose their boldness. They rejoice at the hand of a man, whence they express their joy in their way of singing. The furriers lie in wait for them, and therefore it is necessary that they be clipped. They are inflamed with the most impatient lust. When the domestic cat begins to grow wild, the owner must cut off its ears, so that, of course, the open places of the ears can not withstand the infusion of the drops of the night rain, and therefore it is forced to return to the roofs of the house. The cat is affected by so much love around his likeness, that if it stood over a well and contemplated its reflection in the water of the well, so that it might enjoy the company of its likeness, it would spontaneously fall from the height and fall into the deep, and thus, deceived by the shadow's vanity, would be drowned by the overwhelming waters. This happens especially when the female is more impatiently fired with lust for the male, and this is especially so in younger cats, who are less experienced and do not know the dangers. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book18.75): The Cat is called Murilegus, & Musio, and also Cattus, & hath that name Murilegus, for he is enemie to mice & to rats, and is commonly called Cattus, & hath that name of ravening, for he ravisheth mice and rats. Or els he hath that name Cattus of Cata, that is to sée, for he séeth so sharply, that he overcommeth darknesse of the night by shining of the lyght of his eyen, and the name Cattus commeth of Gréek, and is to understand slye and wittie, as Isi[dore] saith li. 12. And is a beast of uncertaine haire & colour: for some Cat is white, some red, some black, some skewed and speckled in the féete, and in the face, and in the eares, and is most like to the Leopard, & hath a great mouth, and sawie teeth & sharp, and long tongue & pliant, thin & subtill, & lappeth ther with when he drinketh, as other beasts do that have the nether lip shorter than the over, for because of unevennesse of lips, such beasts sucke not in drinking, but lap and lick as Ari[stotle] saith & Plin[y] also: & he is a ful lecherous beast in youth, swift, pliant & merie, & leapeth & réeseth on al thing yt is before him, & is led by a straw, & plaieth therwith: & is a right hevie beast in age & full sléepy, & lieth slily in waite for mice, & is ware where they be, more by smell than by sight, & hunteth & réeseth on them in privy places: & when he taketh a mouse, he plaieth therwith, & eateth him after the play, & is as it were wilde, & goeth about in time of generation, among cats. In time of kind is hard fighting for females, & one scratcheth & renteth ye other grievously with biting & with clawes, and they make a ruthfull noise & gastful, when one profereth to fight with another: & is a cruell beast when he is wilde, and dwelleth in woods, & hunteth then smal wild beasts, as Conies & Hares: and falleth on his owne féete when he falleth out of high places, & uneth is hurt, when he is throwen downe off an high place. His durte doth stink ful foule, & therfore he hideth it under earth, & gathreth therupon covering with féete & clawes: & when he hath a faire skin he is as it wer proud therof, & goeth fast about, & when his skin is burnt, then he bideth at home, & is ofte for his faire skin, taken of the skinner and slaine. - [Batman]