In 1777 a Yorkshire man claimed to know someone who could devour a live cat. One of his neighbours disputed this and the two men had a five pound wager. The bet was concluded at the summer fair in Beverley, just north of Hull. According to press reports, the first party produced a local shepherd, “a raw-boned fellow, about 40″. He was handed a black tom cat, “chosen for being the largest in the neighbourhood” – and immediately started chomping:
“The cat was given to him, on which he took hold of its four legs with one hand, and closing its mouth with the other, he killed him by biting his head to pieces. And in less than a quarter of an hour devoured every part of the cat.”
The wager was duly paid and all seemed happy with the transaction – including the cat-eating shepherd, who was amply rewarded and showed no ill effects from his feline feast:
The man who laid the wager gave the performer two guineas for doing it, and the shepherd appeared perfectly satisfied with the reward… [He] walked about the fair the whole afternoon and seemed neither sick nor sorry.”
Source: Various, inc. Sporting Magazine, vol.3, 1794.