“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
–Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-90)
When Emir O. Filipovic, a medievalist at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited the State Archives of Dubrovnik, he stumbled upon something that will hardly surprise anyone who lives with cats today: a 15th century manuscript with inky paw prints casually tracked across it.
An here’s another purrpetrator. The Historisches Archiv in Cologne, Germany houses a manuscript with an interesting history. According to the blog MedievalFragments, “a Deventer scribe, writing around 1420, found his manuscript ruined by a urine stain left there by a cat the night before. He was forced to leave the rest of the page empty, drew a picture of a cat and cursed the creature with the following words:”
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.
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.
What I would sincerely love to know is whether, almost 600 years later, the urine smell has left the page. Cat owners, you’ll know what I mean.