This is a painting of a male cat being castrated (what we usually call neutering) in 1531. I would like to comment on it for a bit of amusement. Although the whole grizzly process looks far from amusing for the poor cat. It was painted by Girolamo Romani (c. 1485 – c. 1566). It is a fresco decoration of Castello del Buoncosiglio in Trento. This is a castle in Northern Italy.
Actually, having looked at this painting in more detail I have decided that it is not going to be amusing commenting on it. The first point, it seems, is that cats were being deliberately neutered almost 500 years ago. Did they have similar ideas about the feral cat problem in Italy in the 16th century? I would think not. So I am not sure of the reason behind neutering a male cat.
Secondly, there appears to be a man doing the castration. He couldn’t have been a veterinarian because they weren’t in existence at that time. Perhaps he was a barber or a some such craftsman who did the odd castration! Meow, poor cat. Actually he looks like a butcher. He is wearing a white cap and apron as if to catch the blood. Ouch.
Two men are holding down the cat without any protection. Unwise I would suggest. Looking at the way they are doing it, it seems very forceful so the cat would have resisted aggressively. One of the legs is being held down by someone else.
The next important observation is that the person doing the castration is pointing an instrument (a knife?) at the area of the cat’s penis. This is not how you neuter a cat. You remove the testicles, which are at the end of the cat and not the underside of the cat.
Clearly there is no anesthetic but that probably wouldn’t have mattered that much as it is not that painful and cats recover very fast from it.
The cat’s owner appears to be the women top left in the painting. She looks distraught, and rightly so! She is concerned for her cat. The others are interested spectators.
As for the cat, poor fellow, he appears to be a grey/brown tabby cat as you can just see banding on his leg. The undersides of this cat are lighter than the flanks and back.
For me, the most interesting aspect of this painting is that the event in the painting actually took place because I would have thought people of that era gave no thought to neutering their male cats.