Weird History

Why Are These 16th-Century Cats Wearing Jetpacks?

Franz Helm's 16th-century military manual, Buch von den probierten Künsten, includes some crazy illustrations of the strategies he lays out therein – most notably what appear to be cats wearing jetpacks. Helm, a German artillery master, wrote his manual replete with illustrations involving strapping rockets to doves and cats, presumably to effectively wage war against one's enemy.

Using animals in warfare or in some other form of torture or abuse wasn't unique to the 16th century (take a look at the history of the bulldog, the sad reality of the turnspit dog, or the cat piano if in doubt), but cats wearing jetpacks is a pretty weird image even for the Early Modern era, a time when visions of the apocalypse included 400 flying dragons and an uptick in birth defects.

So, are these cats really wearing jetpacks? No, but they're really weaponized with fire and intended to be used in battle.