Top 10 Medieval Butt-Licking Cats
July 29, 2015 3:00 PM   Subscribe

 


This post goes with MetaFilter like a cat's tongue goes with its butt.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would've guessed this was a post from the-toast.net, but that's a great tumblr.
posted by numaner at 3:07 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Christ on Majesty flanked by two angels blowing trumpets of the Last Judgement and a little grey guy licking its butt. Missal, Bavaria ca. 1440-1460 (New York Public Library, MA 112, fol. 7r)

SOUND THE TRUMPETS

*cat licks its butt*
posted by angrycat at 3:07 PM on July 29, 2015 [30 favorites]


This is the tumblr that got me to tumble.

There's a lot of great library special collections ones if you're into this sort of thing.
posted by sio42 at 3:08 PM on July 29, 2015


4. Prayerbook cats

I would like to know if that is the earliest realistic artistic rendering of a cat's anus.
posted by numaner at 3:09 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


#catbuttslol
posted by Cash4Lead at 3:11 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Openmarginalis
Msuprovenance
Uispeccoll
UPennmanuscripts

I'm on my phone so hard to link.
But those are the tumblrs
posted by sio42 at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a me_irl goldmine.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thank god modern cats don't have this nasty habit
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


I mean is it like

*it's the apocalypse, as signified by a cat licking its but*
*it's the apocalypse, but the cat doesn't care and is licking its butt*
*it's the final judgment, here's your last chance to see a cat licking its butt*

What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy
posted by angrycat at 3:21 PM on July 29, 2015 [30 favorites]


top-10-medieval-butt-licking-cats is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners had no idea there was so much cat butt licking documented in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts, or why. Also, "Ack!" and "Thbbft!"
posted by mosk at 3:22 PM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

As a symbol of permanence, like the Sun or the Fixed Stars. Man may come and go, but Cat will always be licking its butt.
posted by neckro23 at 3:27 PM on July 29, 2015 [22 favorites]


Have European cat breeds changed significantly in proportions in the past N-hundred years, or were Medieval scribes just bad at drawing cats?
posted by rh at 3:27 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Any egyptologists here with similar examples of the elusive sphynxtre?
posted by furtive at 3:32 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have European cat breeds changed significantly in proportions in the past N-hundred years, or were Medieval scribes just bad at drawing cats?

It's not just cats, they were simply bad at drawing.
posted by aubilenon at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, they hadn't invented looking at things yet.
posted by cmoj at 3:39 PM on July 29, 2015 [39 favorites]


If you look at the rest of the site, medieval scribes were quite capable of drawing things in a remarkable number of ways. I'm not sure using this a proof of the morphological development of cats over the past few hundred years will quite make a winning thesis. Could be the core of a popular book, though, so worth thinking about.

I see all this as proof of my theory, previously detailed on MeFi, that the entire history of the human race is in fact run by and for cats, which are an alien species who have had their physical ability to create technology removed before they were exiled here in some cosmic deportation incident. Since then, they have learned to mind-control us, much like those parasites that drastically change the behaviour of their hosts, and been directing our progress towards the point where we can create - for them - the ability to leave the planet and take their revenge.

In this context, Final Judgement Butt-Lick Cat is a product of the medieval phase of our programming, where our esc(h)atological desires for the End Times were being set in place with a subtle psychological bias towards ensuring the Cat At Ease would be a pivotal part.
posted by Devonian at 3:45 PM on July 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Alas, the Twinkle Tush wasn't invented until 1788.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:51 PM on July 29, 2015


Since then, they have learned to mind-control us, much like those parasites that drastically change the behaviour of their hosts

I'm trying and failing to figure out if you actually know that this is almost literally true. Toxoplasma gondii.

Now excuse me, I have to go serve the master.
posted by Justinian at 3:51 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


sorry to be all up in the thread, but this other thing is sort of freaking me out:

What's going on with that devil worshipper one? Looking at cat butts shows one is Satanic? Because it's almost like Satan is saying, 'see, children? look how clean that anus is.' Which is not a sentiment I associate with the devil. I mean, it's good to have a clean anus.
posted by angrycat at 3:55 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


For some reason, I can't actually type toxobromofluo... trixopantlubber... taxiforpeter... so I have to allude.

Splitting headache all of a sudden. Back soo ~_ {*cU{_

NO CARRIER
posted by Devonian at 3:57 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


No. 5 looks like a mutant human baby head atop a shrunken llama-ferret body.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 4:26 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


or were Medieval scribes just bad at drawing cats?

It's not just cats, they were simply bad at drawing.

If you look at the rest of the site, medieval scribes were quite capable of drawing things in a remarkable number of ways


Yeah I wouldn't call it "bad", but they were certainly not accomplishing photo-realistic or anatomically correct for the most part. Not sure if that's due to technical constraints with available materials for illuminating manuscripts, artist ability, stylistic choice, or even contemporary norms and techniques for illustration. I kinda like the style in fact, maybe I'll get myself a butt-licking cat sleeve tattoo
posted by Hoopo at 4:26 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hoopo, one of the tattoo artists at the shop i usually go to just did a pretty good cat butt licking tattoo recently (not on me unfortunately)
posted by burgerrr at 4:31 PM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Drawing and painting in the photorealistic sense, in western art, didn't really happen until the renaissance when things like perspective started to be used as well as drawing what one saw rather than symbols of objects.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 4:34 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The lovingly rendered cat butthole in #4 reminds me more than anything of Neko Atsume.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:35 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


5. Devil and the cat worshippers licking the cat’s butt
Love the expression on the cat, like it knows an especially good treat is coming.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 4:44 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's quite fascinating that plausibly realistic painting crops up practically from Lascaux onwards, with some real stunners in Egyptian and Roman funerary art, but never really takes hold until the late Medieval. Sculpture seems to have quite a different path. Then again, who knows what hasn't survived.
posted by Devonian at 4:50 PM on July 29, 2015


Now excuse me, I have to go serve the master.
posted by Justinian


So you did get another cat?

Glad to hear it.

What's going on with that devil worshipper one? Looking at cat butts shows one is Satanic?

I thought Satan was making them perform a ritualistic kiss of the cat's butt.
posted by jamjam at 4:52 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


No you've got it all wrong. Everyone knows cat butts taste like sweet sweet Jesus and that cat is just doing her best to combat evil.
posted by item at 4:54 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know about depictions in manuscripts, but on an archaeology forum I visit, the discussion about the lovely cat paw prints in this Roman tile led to speculation about whether you could use the prints to compare the size of Roman cats to modern cats. And then someone said they'd once come across an article that attempted to work out the stature of Roman horses using the diameter of their preserved poo.

So, there is that.
posted by Helga-woo at 4:55 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where's medieval Fat Freddy?
posted by bink at 5:01 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Openmarginalis
Msuprovenance
Uispeccoll
UPennmanuscripts


Um, hello, I'm right here! (Those other ones are good too.)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:15 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where's medieval Fat Freddy?

Found him.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:17 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Um, hello, I'm right here! (Those other ones are good too.)

I don't see any cats licking their butts there, sir! Although what is up with "The offering of Joachim"? What IS that on the table? And what is wrong with that poor dog??
posted by rtha at 5:32 PM on July 29, 2015


I really love the Devil's face in that one image. The things you do for a paycheck, man.
posted by invitapriore at 5:40 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

The cat knows it's getting into heaven, so it might as well get in some grooming time while waiting for Christ to get done with Judgement and make with the lap and treats. The Lord is the Lord, but he's got a soft spot for cats (the extra fishes went to the local cats, for example; cats don't like loaves, after all).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Surely some of those cats are licking their balls; or am I just projecting my experience with dogs?
posted by TedW at 6:05 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

I have an actual serious-answer-type theory.

see, this was back in the day when all books were done by scribes, copying books by hand. Illuminating them as you went, yeah, but otherwise copying. Over and over and over and over and over, depending on how many copies of a given book your Monsignor wanted. Or, illuminating things with all sorts of intricacy and detail.

And sometimes, between the repetitiveness of the copying and the pressure to really jazz up the illuminated bits, you start to either get bored or go a little funny in the head. I've heard about some other oddball things you find in some books produced by Irish monks - one book has a big huge illuminated letter as the frontispiece of one chapter of the Bible, but the monk doing the copying must have thought one part of it looked a little empty, because there's a random mirror-image part of a chunk of the text on the opposite page there for no sensible reason, so it's almost like the monk was like, "that part on the left needs something....oh, fuck it, lemme just copy some of the words I just wrote, who gives a shit." Another Irish book has a Celtic knotwork frame drawn around another big-ass frontispiece letter, except on one side the knotwork extends for another inch or so further, as if the monk got carried away drawing and suddenly realized "oops."

Now, also consider that medieval monasteries also had cats, to keep the mice away. One of the sweetest little poems about cats is Pangur Ban, which was written by an Irish monk in the 9th Century, comparing his own hunt for wisdom and personal illumination with his cat's hunt for mice.

So imagine this monk sitting there in a dimly-lit scriptorum, back bent over his work - he's tired, he's achey, grinding the pigment for the paint made him sneeze, and that one other monk with the mole gave him a dirty look and oh for goodness sake how could i help it the stuff got up my NOSE, brother - and he's got a long way to go before he's done illuminating this one page from Revelations, and come to think of it it was the monk with the mole that insisted there be so much blue in the damn thing....

...And in walks his cat, just sort of ambling in. Our monk momentarily glances up, too busy to do much more than notice Puss-Puss walking in. Ah, though, maybe he can watch the cat for just a second, take a little break...

...And he looks up again, just in time to see Puss-Puss plonk down and start to lick his butt, something which always tickles him because dear lord how on earth do they get their legs cocked so far back....

And after a second, our tired, cranky, bored monk switches the blue ink for the gray, and begins drawing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 PM on July 29, 2015 [28 favorites]


Thankfully my cat has not picked up a butthole-licking habit yet. My dog, on the other hand, is a butthole-licking connoisseur. And oh my god, the sound of a dog licking its butthole underneath the covers at bedtime is a thing of nightmares. Its some next-level tell-tale heart shit, I kid you not.
posted by blixapuff at 6:20 PM on July 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thankfully my cat has not picked up a butthole-licking habit yet.

You just haven't caught him.her at it yet.
posted by beagle at 7:20 PM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


What's going on with that devil worshipper one?

That's what I'm saying. The cat's not supposed to be the recipient of the osculum infame!
posted by mittens at 7:24 PM on July 29, 2015


mittens: "the recipient of the osculum infame"

Oh damn. Satan ahead of the game once again.
posted by mhum at 7:33 PM on July 29, 2015


BUTT CAT fits in perfectly to the tune of love shack

this is extremely valuable information i am giving you all for free
posted by poffin boffin at 8:23 PM on July 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


litter on the mattress
litter on the highway
litter on the front porch
litter on the highway

posted by moonmilk at 8:40 PM on July 29, 2015 [15 favorites]


yes excellent
posted by poffin boffin at 8:49 PM on July 29, 2015


Not medieval, but[t]:

"For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
"For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended."
posted by holgate at 9:27 PM on July 29, 2015


litter on the mattress
litter on the highway
litter on the front porch
litter on the highway


Danger! Danger! Cat butt!
When he tucks, when he licks!


Yes it's a slightly different song but it has a part that sounds the same.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 PM on July 29, 2015


Also not medieval:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position:
...
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts

More medievally:

What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

From some quick searching, it appears that

*it's the final judgment, here's your last chance to see a cat licking its butt*

may be the most theologically correct answer, at least according to scholastic theologians (well, Aquinas). Humans don't need to eat; therefore, there's no need for animals to exist post-Last Judgment.
posted by mr_deerheart at 10:29 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

You know, I can't help but think that if William Blake had painted The Butt-Licking Cat and the Woman Clothed in Sun Francis Dolarhyde might have taken a rather different course in life.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:41 AM on July 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


What I'm asking is, what the hell is the rationale for putting a cat licking its butt in a Last Judgment thingy

"The fool that invented the idea of hell should be the first to be damned" apologies to Mark Twain.
posted by Narrative_Historian at 3:19 AM on July 30, 2015


I think it is saying that someone who ignores god/eternity to follow his own pleasure is like a cat licking its arse, so take that atheists and Epicureans
posted by communicator at 4:31 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


But perhaps also, subversively, it is saying we kind of identify with the cat, and feel affectionate towards it. 'We've all felt like that some days little buddy'. Because art is of the devil's party.
posted by communicator at 4:32 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Medieval illustrators were kind of the Sergio Aragonés of their day with cat butts.
posted by PHINC at 6:46 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


RE the cat-butt-lick at the apocalypse; I am reminded of the tail devouring Ouroboros, which can represent eternal renewal and the resetting of the universe.

Maybe the artist was just a bit quick to illustrate and the cat hadn't properly assumed the tail-in-mouth position?
posted by trif at 7:10 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Nastiest habit"? They are cleaning themselves, and, consequently, are helping keep your house sanitary and free from wayward feline dingles.

Yes, who's a good butt-slurping kitty WUZZAH WUZZAH
posted by dgaicun at 9:47 AM on July 30, 2015


That's what I keep telling my friends about the local copraphage, but they never seem to listen...
posted by Going To Maine at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2015


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