Let's pretend you're a wealthy German aristocrat lounging around your castle in the 1500s, trying not to catch the plague or whatever. How exactly would you keep yourself occupied? Perhaps you'd come up with a hobby, like knitting. Or, you could do something truly awesome and try to invent Rocket Cats.
Leave it to the Germans to come up with the best idea ever in the history of warfare. Rocket Cats. Yes, that's right—Rocket Cats. A handwritten manual from the 1500's depicts a cat and dove outfitted with bombs to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise," according to the Associated Press:
Fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare seem to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves, with the German-language text helpfully advising military commanders to use them to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise."
The treatise in question was written by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne, who was believed to have fought in several skirmishes against the Turks in south-central Europe at a time when gunpowder was changing warfare. Circulated widely and illustrated by multiple artists, Helm's manual is filled with all sorts of strange and terrible imagery, from bombs packed with shrapnel to missile-like explosive devices studded with spikes — and those weaponized cats and birds.
The book and images have been making the rounds in academic circles and ended up with University of Pennsylvania Penn researcher Mitch Fraas, who decided to figure out just what the fuck was up with the Rocket Cats. (I will never ever get tired of saying that.) So, did Fraas discover that Germans had the power to launch cats using rockets? Sadly, no:
According to Fraas' translation, Helm explained how animals could be used to deliver incendiary devices: "Create a small sack like a fire-arrow . if you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited."
In other words, capture a cat from enemy territory, attach a bomb to its back, light the fuse and then hope it runs back home and starts a raging fire.
That's probably one of the worst, stupidest ideas ever! Because everyone knows cats will just go where you want them to go, exactly when you want them to go there. (Also, this guy wanted to basically blow up cats. Not cool, German dude. Not cool.)
I do have it on good authority however that our Cat Overlords are currently testing variations of this method. As you know, they have been readying themselves for war in a variety of ways, including building an intricate series of forts. I hope Team Dog is prepared and is studying these newly found plans.
Images via AP Images.