Matt Rourke / AP
By Olivia B. Waxman
March 6, 2014

There is an a-mewsing illustration in a guide to artillery written around 1530 that appears to endorse strapping explosives to cats and doves and igniting the ammunition during a rebellion, the Associated Press reports.

Matt Rourke / AP
Matt Rourke / AP

Digitized by the University of Pennsylvania and translated by researcher Mitch Fraas, the German manual penned by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne — whose experience included fighting Turks in south-central Europe — appears to say:

Fraas said he has not found evidence that cats or birds were used in this way and told the AP that it would be “very unlikely the animals would run back to where they came from. More likely they’d set your own camp on fire.”

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.

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