Everytime you toss a kitten, God pisses on a parade.
May 9, 2006 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Kattenstoet, a triennial cat parade is this weekend in Ypres, Belguim. The festival culminates with Kattenworp, the hurling of kittens from the Cloth Hall Belfry, a continuation of Europe's long ambiguous history of fascination with the feline. [more inside]
posted by If I Had An Anus (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Venerated during pagan times, the cat became associated with witchcraft during the Middle Ages. Large-scale massacres of felines (that ironically may have helped the spread of Bubonic Plaque) began after Pope Gregory IX issued the Vox in Rama in the 13th Century, which placed the devil at witches' sabbats in the form of a large black cat. (An excerpt and analysis of Vox in Rama is in Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700.) Though individuals such as Cardinal Richelieu were cat fanciers throughout the age, the killings went on for hundreds of years.

The official Kattenstoet site (here or here if you read Flemish) says live cats were last thrown in 1817, however Concerning Cats by Helen M. Winslow claims the practice was made illegal in 1618.

(More Kattenstoet photos and other folk festivals in the region.)
posted by If I Had An Anus at 8:14 AM on May 9, 2006

Excellent post! I don't buy the 1618 date at all.
posted by OmieWise at 8:21 AM on May 9, 2006

And nice title!
posted by OmieWise at 8:23 AM on May 9, 2006

One of the memories I have of my visit to Brussels a few years ago was seeing a homeless guy panhandling in the city square with his cats. I'd seen a lot of panhandling, but when I saw the kitties I gave him a few €.
posted by birdherder at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2006

OK. That kitten hurling link was just about the funniest thing I've seen in weeks.
posted by spock at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2006

From the outstanding Uncyclopedia link on "Kitten Hurling Battle":

After loading their Kitten Belts, Players stand atop their pedestals and face away from each other. One (metric) minute of silence must be observed to honor Felix, king of the felines, timed by another person (known as the KatMaster). The KatMaster then initiates each round (called a "Fur") by blowing a clear, shrill note on an ivory whistle. This enrages the kittens, preparing them for battle.

(great post, btw, IHAA)
posted by kosem at 9:20 AM on May 9, 2006

They need cat herders.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:38 AM on May 9, 2006

Every time I read a post about kittens, I eat one. Thanks MetaFilter, my fucking cholesterol is through the roof!
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2006

How bad would it suck to be the guy who had to clean up all the cats back in the 1500's?
posted by Parannoyed at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2006

I read this hoping that someone, somewhere still allowed the hurling of kittens from parapets.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:03 AM on May 9, 2006

Who said they cleaned up anything in the 1500's?
posted by Atreides at 11:07 AM on May 9, 2006

In a similar vein, The Danes celebrate Mardi Gras (Fastelavn) with a game innocently called "slå katten af tønden" (hit the cat in the barrel). Nowadays, it's just a piñata type affair. However, formerly......
posted by MotherTucker at 11:14 AM on May 9, 2006

The object of the sport is to force one's opponent into submission using nothing but kittens

I'm always looking for new athletic challenges.. but damn. That's intense.
posted by Raoul.Duke at 12:53 PM on May 9, 2006

In Wales, in the 10th century, cats had a legislated value (which went way up the moment they killed a mouse). If you killed someone's cat you had to pay them as much grain as would be in a pile as tall as the cat would be if held by the tip of it's tail until it's paws just touched the ground.

I'm not sure what percentage of a years work that is for your average medieval farmer but, given that my cat is nearly three feet at full sprawl, I'll bet it's signifigant.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:57 PM on May 9, 2006

I support cat parades.
posted by blacklite at 3:10 PM on May 9, 2006

*Cat got my tongue.*
posted by rleamon at 8:03 PM on May 9, 2006

How bad would it suck to be the guy who had to clean up all the cats back in the 1500's?

i'm sure the butchers were used to that kind of thing
posted by pyramid termite at 6:15 AM on May 10, 2006

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