4 plays that tell us that Shakespeare hated cats

Was William Shakespeare one of the world’s great cat haters? Shame if he was because I am sure that there are many cat lovers who also love Shakespeare (1564-1616). Sadly, the majority of the bard’s references to cats are derogatory, hostile vilifications. Here are 4 plays of his containing these vilifications, on which I have concluded that at least he disliked cats and at worst he hated them. An unkind and disrespectful attitude as many cats in his era would have been in vulnerable situations and ill-treated.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare. Image in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
  1. All’s Well That Ends Well: “I could endure anything but a cat, and now he is a cat to me….A pox upon him.! For he is more and more a cat”. I’d say that was fairly conclusive. He clearly hates cats in those sentences.
  2. Cymbeline: “Creatures vile as cats…”
  3. The Merchant of Venice: “Some that are mad if they behold a cat”.
  4. Much Ado About Nothing: “What though care killed a cat.”

I wonder if the last reference is not indicative of Shakespeare hating cats as suggested but the bard stating that cats worry too much which might reduce their lifespan. I am no doubt being too generous towards him and I’m guessing anyway as the sentence is almost unintelligible. In his day there was a looser relationship between cat and human, very poor veterinary services and more cat cruelty. Life was probably often quite brutal for domestic cats. Cats were stressed. Although I am sure there were some cats who lived very comfortable lives and who were well loved.

Personally, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t like Shakespeare’s writings. Obviously, it is from an entirely different era almost 500 years ago. The language is not impenetrable but it is difficult to understand and as such it is difficult to enjoy. And how do you understand the nuances of a language if you can barely understand the prose itself? And Shakespeare is described as Britain’s greatest poet and playwright. I think people have just decided to praise him and his renown has deepened but artificially. That kind of thing can happen when an idea becomes entrenched even though the idea was seeded incorrectly.

Postscript: there is a difference between cat haters and ailurophobes. The former simply hate cats like Shakespeare (probably) and the latter are people who genuinely fear cats because perhaps of some deep-rooted trauma when they were children. It’s an irrational fear.

Below are some articles that include cat lovers or loving cats, just to balance the article 👍✔️.

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