A Deventer scribe, writing around 1420, found his manuscript ruined by a urine stain left there by a cat the night before. He was forced to leave the rest of the page empty, drew a picture of a cat and cursed the creature with the following words:
“Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.”
[Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.]
Cats were apparently quite common in medieval libraries for the obvious reason that they ate the mice that would otherwise eat the manuscripts – in the eyes of any self-respecting medieval archivist a crime worse even than peeing on a manuscript.
That being the case, it should hardly be surprising that cats were not the only ones singled out for literary cursing:
In the book that [twelfth-century scribe Hildebert] was writing, we find a curse directed at the beast:
“Pessime mus, sepius me provocas ad iram; ut te deus perdat”
[Most wretched mouse, often you provoke me to anger. May God destroy you!]