16th Century Europe Envisioned the Rocket Cat

16th Century Europe Envisioned the Rocket Cat

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A 400-year old German manuscript portrays how cats could be used as deadly explosives.

It's hard to deny that cats have it made in our modern world. We feed them, provide them with shelter, and throw entire film festivals in their honor, requiring only that they pose for the occasional internet photo in return. Sadly, cats haven't always held such esteemed positions in our society. According to a 16th Century German manuscript, cats were used less for cheeseburger jokes and more for blowing up enemy encampments. An image from the manuscript, seen right, depicts a death-dealing, rocket-bearing feline in a scene that is both ridiculous and laughable, provided you don't dwell on its rather depressing implications.

Feuer Buech, or "Fire Book" in English, provides illustrations of various kinds of 16th Century munitions. The manuscript can be examined in full on the University of Pennsylvania's library website, where one reader presumably stumbled across the subtitle "cat and bird with rocket packs" and couldn't stop laughing. The image has been slowly spreading on blogs and tumblr feeds ever since, presumably to the amused bewilderment of history buffs and cat lovers everywhere.

Animals have been a part of human warfare for about as long as we've had warfare, and explosives were never an exception. During World War II, the Soviets put bomb-laden dogs in the field as anti-tank weapons while the US experimented with a pigeon-guided missile system. Of course, such programs usually led to tragic results for the animals involved, and were eventually scrapped in favor of traditional, non-adorable delivery methods.

Since Feuer Buech isn't packed from cover-to-cover with animal pictures, it's pretty safe to say that these cat-based bombs weren't in vogue for very long. Which is good, because Grumpy Cat wouldn't be very impressed if we gave him the same treatment as his 16th Century ancestor, Fritz the Rocket Cat.

Source: The Atlantic

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Are we sure this was a germans idea?

I mean think about it, this could be just one more way that cats have been plotting out downfall...

The US also used cats literally on fire so they run across Cuban field and burn their crops, but still it's weird to read this article, and see how long something along the lines was considered back then.

LOL?

Yeah, I think so.

LOL ROKKIT CATZ!

"And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
'til touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the cat they think I am at home
Oh meow, meow, meow, I'm a rocket cat
Rocket cat, burning out his fuse up here alone"

400 years later the weapon has been perfected...

I see no tactical reason to tie a rocket to a cat. well now that I think about it, I guess launching a cat over a castle wall will cause it to become quite angry, so thats something.

I remember reading about how the Soviet bomb dog in WWII worked, worked too well. They trained the poor dogs to run up to tanks, during the training the Russians naturally used their own tanks as they had them around. When they tried to use them in battle the dogs ran towards the tanks just as they had been trained, except they had been trained to run up to Soviet tanks and completely ignored the German ones.

Not sure how accurate it is but its epic ironic justice if it was.

Fanghawk:
Which is good, because Grumpy Cat wouldn't be very impressed if we gave her the same treatment as her 16th Century ancestor, Fritz the Rocket Cat.

*fixed

OT: I doubt this'll be the last time we hear about the stupid ideas we came up with, if only because we get so technologically advance in the years to come that we look at our past lives and jokingly wonder how the heck we even survived back then (like with TV).

Could cats still be used as explosives today?.

Still it would be really freaky to suddenly hear a loud meow and then the Nyan cat theme playing in the background as it happens.

Awww as a german i really must say... its called Feuer Buch not Feuer Buech

Oh the larks you can have in war. Like when the Romans used to set pigs on fire to scare elephants....mmmm bacon.

i cant decide wether this is terrible and sickening or the COOLEST THING EVER!
i mean im against animal cruelty but... an exploding cat? that just has an awsome ring to it...

Why was the emblem for this a photo of Kopikatsu?...

OT: Um... something here is very awesome but I can't say I'm in favour of blowing cats up, I have one of the furry little blighters and I wubs it, they're very good pets.

No, I couldn't get behind modern-day cat rockets... Alas...

Shadow-Phoenix:
Could cats still be used as explosives today?.

Still it would be really freaky to suddenly hear a loud meow and then the Nyan cat theme playing in the background as it happens.

I agree with the grumpy cats sentiments here.

IT's still not as bad as when the Soviet's trained dogs to run under tanks with explosives tied to them, good thing that bit them in the arse.

it all started with the mistranslation of the catapult..

J Tyran:
I remember reading about how the Soviet bomb dog in WWII worked, worked too well. They trained the poor dogs to run up to tanks, during the training the Russians naturally used their own tanks as they had them around. When they tried to use them in battle the dogs ran towards the tanks just as they had been trained, except they had been trained to run up to Soviet tanks and completely ignored the German ones.

Not sure how accurate it is but its epic ironic justice if it was.

While that did happen occasionally the main problem was the dogs were trained with tanks that were not running, the noise of a moving tank sacred the crap outa them and they usually made a bee ling straight towards Russian infantry, Then there was a mad scramble to de-fuse the dog before the detonator rod got caught on anything and blew them all up. As the infantry was normally hiding in rubble and ruined buildings things could get very chaotic. :)

16thecentury - rockets.
21st century - jail escape kits.

they never gave up.

Are we sure this is a rocket or bomb? Because it looks more like a leaky container of chili sauce to me. Maybe the Germans came up with a way to quickly distribute barbecue sides during a siege?

RevRaptor:

J Tyran:
I remember reading about how the Soviet bomb dog in WWII worked, worked too well. They trained the poor dogs to run up to tanks, during the training the Russians naturally used their own tanks as they had them around. When they tried to use them in battle the dogs ran towards the tanks just as they had been trained, except they had been trained to run up to Soviet tanks and completely ignored the German ones.

Not sure how accurate it is but its epic ironic justice if it was.

While that did happen occasionally the main problem was the dogs were trained with tanks that were not running, the noise of a moving tank sacred the crap outa them and they usually made a bee ling straight towards Russian infantry, Then there was a mad scramble to de-fuse the dog before the detonator rod got caught on anything and blew them all up. As the infantry was normally hiding in rubble and ruined buildings things could get very chaotic. :)

Daft idea from the start really, thats just in practical terms and not counting animal welfare. There where loads of wacky ideas involving animals in WWII, like these bat bombs. The idea was to drop a large bomb casing with a parachute attached and filled with bats onto Japanese cities, each bat had a small time delayed incendiary device strapped to it. The bats would then escape the casing and go and find somewhere to roost, hopefully inside the wooden roofs of the buildings where the incendiary would later go off and set fire to the building.

Just in case anyone wonders, what it is saying:
"To set fire on a castle with a cat.

To make bullets which run and burn.

Take five parts calcium nitrate, two parts[...]"

Venku628:
Awww as a german i really must say... its called Feuer Buch not Feuer Buech

Back in the 16th century it wasn't. The two vowels in Buech have turned into a long u in standard German. In some dialects they are still present.

J Tyran:

RevRaptor:

J Tyran:
I remember reading about how the Soviet bomb dog in WWII worked, worked too well. They trained the poor dogs to run up to tanks, during the training the Russians naturally used their own tanks as they had them around. When they tried to use them in battle the dogs ran towards the tanks just as they had been trained, except they had been trained to run up to Soviet tanks and completely ignored the German ones.

Not sure how accurate it is but its epic ironic justice if it was.

While that did happen occasionally the main problem was the dogs were trained with tanks that were not running, the noise of a moving tank sacred the crap outa them and they usually made a bee ling straight towards Russian infantry, Then there was a mad scramble to de-fuse the dog before the detonator rod got caught on anything and blew them all up. As the infantry was normally hiding in rubble and ruined buildings things could get very chaotic. :)

Daft idea from the start really, thats just in practical terms and not counting animal welfare. There where loads of wacky ideas involving animals in WWII, like these bat bombs. The idea was to drop a large bomb casing with a parachute attached and filled with bats onto Japanese cities, each bat had a small time delayed incendiary device strapped to it. The bats would then escape the casing and go and find somewhere to roost, hopefully inside the wooden roofs of the buildings where the incendiary would later go off and set fire to the building.

Oh please... chicken-supported nuclear landmines is where it's all at.

Animal cruelty aside, aren't cats the proverbial example of 'can't be controled or herded'? What possible use would strapping a bomb on a cat be, given that there is a better than even chance the cat will just blow your troops up instead?

With 16th centuries inconsistencies in metal working, and the fact the only propellent they could use was gun powder, your less likely to have a cat rocket and more likely to have a cat bomb.

Not really their original idea considering the mongols did something similar to burn down a Chinese city that they were besieging in the 1200s.

The basic idea is one of two: Either you take a cat that belongs to the fort you're besieging (the font is hard to read but I think it says "to set a castle on fire with its own cats") which will run home and thus carry the fire there or to launch burning cats via catapult so they get hurt badly and crawl into hiding spaces where the fire cannot be extinguished easily.

Or just launch whatever dead animals you have at hand in the hope of spreading disease.

16th Century Europe: Ahead of the curve when it comes to the vision of the future or crazy? YOU MAKE THE CALL.

I can't see how using a cat as a means of guiding rockets would be terribly effective. They're somewhat independent creatures whose unpredictable behavior is as likely to point the rocket at you as the enemy! Still, I suppose it's not the cruelest thing that's been done to cats over the years, when I consider the 1950s solution to unwanted cat litters...

 

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