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“Cat Parade” in Belgium Sheds Dark Light On the Barbaric Treatment Cats Receives During Medieval Days

For the last 60 years, the city of Ypres in Belgium has held a popular "Cat Parade" that draws visitors from around the country. Kattenstoet, or the "Festival of the Cats", is held once every three years and consists chiefly of parades featuring giant cat effigies, brass bands, marchers and people riding on horseback. Revelers dressed as cats, witches or mice and march through the town to the cheer of large crowds of people who turn out on the streets. While it's all fun now, it turns out the origins of Kattenstoet are much darker. 


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    Back in medieval days, people were not very kind to animals and cats in particular

    Street performance - antojo
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    Many west European cities in those times held ritualistic cat tortures where people would gather dozens of cats in a net or wicker cage and hoist them high into the air over a bonfire. It was thought that cats harbored evils spirits and the Devil himself. So while the poor animals howled in pain, the crowd shrieked with laughter. After the animals were charred, the crowd collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home for good luck.



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    In the city of Ypres too cats were used as victims in numerous folkloristic games

    Carnival - BARCLAY
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    In those days, Ypres, like many towns in the Flanders region of Belgium, was renowned for its cloth industry. The wool and the finished product were stored in the Cloth Hall, one of the largest commercial buildings of the time. But the cloth attracted mice, which gnawed at the cloth and procreated to unhealthy numbers. To control the mice population, the cloth traders of Ypres brought in their natural predator, the cat. But cats procreate too and soon there were too many cats than the city could handle. And so the cat killing began. The barbaric practice continued until 1817 when the last killing took place.



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    But the barbaric tradition became a fun parade in 1955

    Masque - THEM proki
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    The first magnificent parade was organized with 1,500 extras, all dressed in gorgeous costumes. Since then, every three years the city has been celebrating Cat's Festival.



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    Here are some more photos from the festival:

    Carnival
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    Public event - pro gimus
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    Animated cartoon
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