Episode 43: Cats

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

‘The cat is the only animal which accepts the comforts but rejects the bondage of domesticity.’
(Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon 1707 – 1788)

Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected where you will discover the history of things that you did not know had a history; like the history of chickens, or the history of tears.

For this episode let us join the fanatic of former times, Professor James Daybell, and the high priest of the past, Dr Sam Willis, as they weave the ‘tail’ of the unexpected history of the cat.

So, hold on to your whiskers and clean your paws as James and Sam claw their way from Darnton’s ‘The Great Cat Massacre’ to the divine felines of ancient Egypt. From the foundations of the RSPCC in 1840 to first evidence of domesticated cats in Cyprus in 9500 BC.

James and Sam will unravel the ball of yarn that is the unexpected history of the cat to reveal that it is actually all about: practicality and witchcraft, sexuality and memorialization, domestication and ceremony, class and cruelty, carnival and fear, authority and rebellion.

Listen out as Sam reveals how mummified cats may make effective scarecrows and James gives us his best cat impression.

‘If cats could write history, their history would be mostly about cats.’ (Eugen Weber 1925 – 2007)

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