A Paw-Printed Page

If you’ve ever spent a cozy night cuddled up with a cat and a book, you know that the two just go together. And humans have been making their mark in books for thousands of years, so why shouldn’t cats? One medieval cat decided to take the matter into his own hands–er, paws–and become immortalized within the pages of a manuscript.

A research assistant at the University of Sarajevo found paw prints on a 15th-century Croatian manuscript. The researcher, Emir Filipović, said that the prints were most likely made while the document was being written, which dates from March 11, 1445. The text is a Republic of Dubrovnik letter to traders and nobles. Nothing too exciting, but the cat’s prints have now made the manuscript famous.

I think this small discovery is so funny and interesting. The writer of the document probably thought this cat ruined it, but I would rather view his (or her) prints as a contribution to the text. Texts are, very often, a record of history, but most often this record is carefully composed and curated. I love when texts can give us a glimpse of true life: an unexpected incident captured in the exact moment it occurred. And the paw prints on this manuscript, while perhaps obscuring its intended message, do not fail to tell a story. When you see the prints, it’s easy to visualize a cat (a stray? the writer’s? black? orange? gray?) accidentally spilling and stepping in some ink and traipsing over the pages. And I think that is a whole lot more interesting than trade documents!

As always, Happy Caturday!  >^..^<

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