What a change in attitude towards those now our beloved friends!
“The queen, sir, very oft importuned me
To temper poisons for her, still pretending
The satisfaction of her knowledge only
In killing creatures vile, as cats and dogs,
Of no esteem”
Cornelius, Cymbeline V.5
I found this quote when looking for inspiration for today’s #ShakespeareSunday theme of Cats & Dogs on Twitter. Do get involved with this popular weekly game from Hollow Crown Fans on Twitter : there are always great quotes, gifs & other images to retweet, should you not be up for adding something yourself.
I was inspired to look for more about Shakespeare and animals – there’s a lot on offer! – and below are a few I found and have enjoyed, or am looking forward to exploring. Most are pretty general about animals and Shakespeare, but do check out the folklore link and the beasts one for historical attitude towards cats and dogs and other animals.
Shakespeare Gone Wild: Meet the Animals in the Bard’s Plays – Shakespeare quotes and photographs by Joel Sartore from National Geographic
Shakespeare’s Animals – on animals within Shakespeare’s language, this is a ‘Teddy Talk’ from the University of Oxford (video + audio only)
Folk-lore of Shakespeare by T.F. Thiselton Dyer  at sacred-texts.com – a listing of animals in Shakespeare with notes on quotes and folklore. Very useful for text work! You can see the difference in attitude to which I first alluded. The howling of dogs foretells death or misfortune (think of the Black Dog tales) & it looks like there were times when dogs were put to death simply because of the season of the year! One of the largest sections is on cats, including their connection to witches and witches turning into cats (apparently these witch-cats have “a great hankering after beer”), leading to some very nasty treatment.
Shakespeare’s Beasts – “Guiding us through Shakespeare’s menagerie, [Laurie] Shannon provides a glimpse into the long history of how we talk about animals.” (YouTube)
Shakespeare Plays Re-imagined with Furry Animals – Mashable article with images about the book ‘Shakespeare in Fluff’
Shakespeare’s Animal House – how many animals mentioned by Shakespeare can you remember for this quiz? (There are a few little comments that can be fun, too, turning up sometimes for incorrect attempts. The first I saw made me laugh – I’d tried ‘roach’.)
And, of course, for more wonderful images, there are always Susan Herbert’s ‘Shakespeare Cats’!