The Cat in Warfare

History of Catflinging
The Classic Flingist
Early European Roots
The Middle Ages
The Highland Fling
Development of the Art
The Cat in Warfare
Cats in Duelling
Cats Used in Hunting
Cats in Household Defense
Catflinging in the Olympics
The Joy of Flinging
Other Types of Flinging
Improv. That Didn't Work
Famous Flingists

About AES
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The Cat in Warfare

While it is clear from its low position in the indifference index that cats in general seldom engender indifference, the sight of a flung cat, claws extended, hissing its way rapidly toward one through the air hardly ever inspires indifference. The cat's use in combat is based not only on the actual potential damage caused by an animate object of a given mass possessing claws, but is augmented immeasurably by this low position in the indifference index. In fact, of all missiles, the cat is the one most likely to arouse feelings of outrage and astonishment -- a major psychological factor in warfare.

The use of the cat as a war machine dates possibly from as early as the fifth century B.C. when some Greek warriors carried them as side arms [illustration]. The cat, however, did not fill a primary role in warfare until the middle ages. The use of the catapult (hence the name) to rain angry flailing cats down upon the defenders of a fortification was an extremely formidable psychological weapon. Despite the development of explosive population, it is highly probable that the catapult would be used to this day but for the fact that cat propulsion fell into disuse and was replaced with the use of noxious, incendiary, or massive, objects which could not by any stretch of the imagination vie psychologically with the impact of a flung cat.

The first well documented use of hand held cat weaponry in the British Isles was from 14th century Scotland where the battle of Glenfoo was fought almost entirely with shaven cats. The Scots solved the problem of protection for shaven cats with the development of the woolen tartan flingsuit or balpurrie. It was discovered that even in a balpurrie, a shaven cat would outperform nearly any other form of treated cat and was truly deadly in the hands of an expert. It was said to be a most imposing sight to see two volleys of cats, each in the colours of its clan, propelled over gorse and bracken toward the enemy, but use of the cat as a psychological weapon did not stop there.

In 1378, Ian McCullat writes of a "howling scurl", a sound that could reputedly put fear into the heart of the staunchest clansman. Recent evidence seems to indicate that this howling scurl was understood only by the McFloogles and was produced by holding ones cat under the left arm and squeezing it while pulling its tail. Other clans tried to reproduce the sound but attempts resulted only in attracting female badgers and was discontinued. The art of scurling the cat remained the McFloogles closely guarded secret. In an attempt to duplicate the demoralizing sound and retain a similar appearance, a number of clans tried scurling reed instruments in imitation of cats. The best of these attempts involved squeezing a tartan covered leather sack under the left arm from which protruded three wooden single reed pipes to represent legs, and one double reed chanter to represent the tail and which the flingist would simulate pulling. With the addition of the fill pipe (representing the fourth leg) into which the flingist would blow, filling the bag with air and making the pipes sound, the simulation was complete. The modern tartan bagpipe cover remains an almost perfect image of the 14th century balpurrie and is the clinching argument for this explanation for the development of the highland bagpipe [illustration].