The Cat That Deserved To Die

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Grimalkin (top).

He carried more ‘evil’ than the usual cat.

Sibling of Daedalus writes:

Possibly the first novel ever published, definitely the first horror novel ever published, ‘Beware the Cat’, by printer’s assistant William Baldwin (pub. 1561) told the lurid tale of a Irish cat, Grimalkin.

Grimalkin roamed around the countryside demanding meat (“aon feoil?”) and eating sheep, foal and even humans if his request wasn’t readily complied with.

The hero of the story (a cattle stealer himself: there are no simple answers in this story) kills Grimalkin in self-defence, but comes to a sticky end. On returning home “all weary and hungry he set down by his wife and told her of his adventure, whereupon a kitling his wife kept, scarce half a year old, had heard, up she started and said ‘Hast thou killed Grimalkin?’

And therewith she plunged in his face, and with her teeth took him by the throat, and ere she could be pulled away she had strangled him.”

Some say Grimalkin was a metaphor for the Irish, others for Catholics, either way the story shows it’s best to be very very nice to cats…

Good times.

Read ‘Beware the Cat’ (updated version of 1570 edition) here

Thanks Sibling of Daedalus