Medieval paintings of cats licking their butts; Japanese man makes 19,000 YouTube videos of himself feeding stray cats, gets no attention; and Pasadena’s “CatCon” gathering « Why Evolution Is True


As we’ve learned by now, nearly all painters up to the 18th century had big trouble depicting cats accurately. This was a special problem for medieval painters, who couldn’t seem to resist the impulse to put human faces on their cats, and didn’t have the chops to depict their bodies accurately. So here, from Sad and Useless, is a series called “Medieval Paintings of Cats Licking their Butts.” There are more at the site, but here’s a selection, apparently painted by cat-owning monks who, illustrating manuscripts, were bored and decided to show something scandalous.  As the site says:

Butt licking cats is a weirdly common theme in medieval art, and nobody’s really sure why. The theory is that they were just etched in the margins by bored monks who wanted to amuse themselves. They thought the idea of sneaking in naughty pictures of cats into serious books was funny. So the monks would pass long, boring days scribbling pictures of these beautiful creatures taking care of their basic hygiene.

But that’s just a theory. Only one medieval monk ever commented on it, and as far as he was concerned, his fellow monks were just wasting time and precious ink. “Good Lord,” he wrote. “Even if the foolishness of it all occasions no shame, at least one might balk at the expense.”

Without further ado, here are five, but there are seven others at the site. Not one cat is depicted accurately.

This is the closest we have to an accurate cat, though the feet are weird:

This moggie has the neck of a snake:

And last but best: look at that butt-licking cat right above Jesus! That’s profane!

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The Outline has the sad tale of a Japanese man who’s made thousands of videos of himself feeding stray cats, and nobody pays attention. Click on screenshot:

Some backstory from the site:

Eight years ago, a middle-aged Japanese man started a YouTube channel and began posting videos of himself feeding stray cats. A lot of videos. Usually one per day, every day. As of this year, he had posted over 19,000 times. If you put all his videos into one big playlist and turned on autoplay, it would take you roughly six and a half days to reach the end. It’s possibly the most prolific non-automated channel on YouTube.

It’s also one of the loneliest. Over the long existence of his channel, most of his videos only ever got five or so views, and had only 100 subscribers. Yet he kept posting. When the channel was linked to on Reddit’s r/DeepIntoYouTube board in March of 2019, he suddenly gained a whopping 2,000. Despite this influx, it didn’t really make him a celebrity. Most of the videos still typically receive less than 50 views.

The lack of popularity is perhaps because the videos aren’t that interesting, at least not technically. They seem almost antiviral by design. For one, the videos are all untitled. Each just uses the default filename provided by his camera, a code and a string of numbers. The current filenames (DSCNXXXX) suggest that at least one of his cameras is a Nikon Coolpix. And indeed, these are some cool pix.

Also, the footage itself is somewhat uneventful. These are vérité-style scenes, almost as if the Maysles brothers decided to follow stray cats around for a decade. They’re usually about 30 seconds long, sometimes a minute, without any kind of drama.

With regards to content, a large number of the vids contain closeups of cats eating:

 

Or drinking water out of a bottle:

Or feature jangling toys in front of their indifferent faces:

Sometimes Cat Man calls to them from a distance, like one would call to an old friend, and their faces appear to light up with excitement, before they run over to him:

Sometimes there are no cats at all, and instead we get interesting cloud formations, or falling rain, dotting the pavement with gentle ripples:

Given that they don’t have titles, they’re in no way SEO-friendly, meaning they can only really be found by accident, usually through going to the YouTube search bar and typing a filename like IMG or DSC with four random numbers (e.g., IMG1234). If that’s too much work, there are sites that mine for them for you such as Astronaut  (2017) and Default Filename TV  (2019), as well as a whole subreddit devoted to digging up interesting finds. It’s pretty addictive.

On the bright side, some of these videos have gotten a considerable number of views. And kudos to this nice man who takes care of the stray moggies! Go over and click “like” on some of them.

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CatCon is an annual cat convention that’s been going for 5 years. This year’s gathering was in Pasadena, California in late June, and attracted 16,000 ailurophiles. As the site notes,

CatCon is the biggest cat-centric, pop culture event in the world dedicated to all things feline, with a community of cat lovers that spans the globe. Part expo, part symposium, CatCon engages, educates and entertains thousands of fans, featuring the latest in groundbreaking products and ideas for cats and their people. Since its inception in 2015, the annual two-day immersive experience has welcomed 62,000 attendees, helped almost 500 cats find their forever homes, and donated over $193,000 to cat organizations. 2018 saw 174 cat adoptions in the CatCon Adoption Village, presented in partnership with 9Lives® Cat Food and World’s Best Cat Litter™. The event has been featured in over 1,000 outlets around the world, including The New York Times, BuzzFeed, Reuters, Vanity Fair, and Glamour.

Here’s agreat 6.5-minute ABC News “Nightline” video about the convention (the site also has a “blog“). It features Internet-famous cats, an updated version of the Cat Lady, and an adoption village. I’d go if I lived in L.A.!

 

h/t: Ginger K.,





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