The Cat and Venus

In a test a Cat was turned into a young maiden. She found a young man and were to be wed. At the wedding Venus released a Mouse and the maiden chased it.

Nature exceeds nurture.

[The Eliot/Jacobs version of this fable is similar enough to be included here.]

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being to change its nature. Jupiter said “Yes,” but Venus said “No.” So, to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young couple sat down to the wedding-feast. “See,” said Jupiter, to Venus, “how becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a Cat? Surely her nature is changed?”

“Wait a minute,” replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and tried to pounce upon the mouse. “Ah, you see,” said Venus, “Nature will out.”

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

A Young Man became so fond of his Cat, that he made her his constant companion, and used to declare that if she were a woman he would marry her. Venus at length, seeing how sincere was his affection, gratified his wishes, and changed the Cat into a young and blooming woman. They were accordingly married; but at night, hearing a Mouse in the room, the young bride sprang from the arms of her husband, caught the Mouse, and killed it. Venus, angry at this behaviour, and seeing that under the form of a Woman there was still hidden the nature of a Cat, determined that form and nature should no longer disagree, and changed her back again to a Cat.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A cat fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.


Nature exceeds nurture.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

A young fellow that was passionately in love with a cat made it his humble suit to Venus to turn puss into a woman. The transformation was wrought in the twinkling of an eye, and out she comes, a very bucksome lass. The doting sot took her home to his bed; and bad fair for a litter of kittens by her that night: but as the loving couple lay snugging together, a toy took Venus in the head, to try if the cat had chang’d her manners with her shape; and so for experiment, turn’d a mouse loose into the chamber. The cat, upon this temptation, started out of the bed, and without any regard to the marriage-joys, made a leap at the mouse, which Venus took for so high an affront, that she turned the madam into a puss again.


The extravagant transports of lore, and the wonderful force of nature, are unaccountable; the one carries us out of our selves, and the other brings us back again.

1001Feles et Venus

Feles quaedam delicium erat formosi cuiusdam adolescentis, Veneremque oravit ut in feminam mutaret. Dea, miserta cupiditatis adolescentuli, convertit felem in puellam. Quam, cum longe speciosa esset, amator domum abduxit. Venus, experiri cupiens si, mutata facie, mutasset et mores, in medium constituit murem. Quem cum illa aspexit, oblita formae, murem ut caperet persecuta est. Qua super re indignata, Venus denuo eam in priorem felis formam mutavit.


Fabula innuit quod homo nequam, licet personam mutet, mores tamen retinet eosdem.

Perry #050