16th-century manual shows ‘rocket cat’ weaponry

PHILADELPHIA — Bring on the rocket cats!

Fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare seem to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves.

Digitized by the University of Pennsylvania, the unusual, full-color illustrations recently caught the attention of an Australian book blog and then found their way to Penn researcher Mitch Fraas, who set out to unravel the mystery.

He says the manual’s German-language text advises military commanders to use cats and birds to deliver explosives to enemy territory.

The idea was to capture a cat from an enemy castle or village, attach a bomb to its back and light the fuse. The cat was then supposed to run back home and start a fire.

Fraas says there’s no evidence the “harebrained scheme” was ever used.