The ship's cat has been a common feature on many trading, exploration, and naval ships dating to ancient times. Cats have been carried on ships for many reasons, most importantly to control rodents. Vermin aboard a ship can cause damage to ropes, woodwork, and more recently, electrical wiring. Also, rodents threaten ships' stores, devour crews' foodstuff, and could cause economic damage to ships' cargo such as grain. They are also a source of disease, which is dangerous for ships that are at sea for long periods of time. Rat fleas are carriers of plague, and rats on ships were believed to be a main spreader of the Black Death.
Cats naturally attack and kill rodents, and their natural ability to adapt to new surroundings made them suitable for service on a ship. In addition, they offer companionship and a sense of home, security and camaraderie to sailors away from home.
The African wildcat was probably first tamed in the Fertile Crescent during the first agricultural revolution that started about 10,000 years ago. Small cat bones excavated on Mediterranean islands indicate that cats were introduced around the beginning of the first millenium. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA of archaeological cat specimens revealed that ancient Egyptian cats started spreading in the 8th century BCE along Mediterranean trading routes and and reached a Viking port at the Baltic Sea by the 7th century.
The Norwegian Forest cat is a natural breed believed to have been developed from Viking ships' cats. Sailing ships spread the domestic cat throughout much of the rest of the world during the Age of Discovery in the 15th through 18th centuries.
Sometimes worshipped as deities, cats have long had a reputation as magical animals and numerous myths and superstitions sprang up among the unusually superstitious seafaring community. They were considered to be intelligent and lucky animals, and a high level of care was devoted to keeping them happy. Some sailors believed that polydactyl cats were better at catching pests, possibly connected with the suggestion that extra digits give a polydactyl cat better balance, important when at sea. In some places polydactyl cats became known as "ship's cats".
Cats were believed to have miraculous powers that could protect ships from dangerous weather. Sometimes, fishermen's wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea. It was believed to be lucky if a cat approached a sailor on deck, but unlucky if it only came halfway, and then retreated. Another popular belief was that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails. If a ship's cat fell or was thrown overboard, it was thought that it would summon a terrible storm to sink the ship and that if the ship was able to survive, it would be cursed with nine years of bad luck. Other beliefs included, if a cat licked its fur against the grain, it meant a hail storm was coming; if it sneezed it meant rain; and if it was frisky it meant wind.
Some of these beliefs are rooted in reality. Cats are able to detect slight changes in the weather, as a result of their very sensitive inner ears, which also allow them to land upright when falling. Low atmospheric pressure, a common precursor of stormy weather, often makes cats nervous and restless.
The prevalence of cats on ships has led to them being reported on by a number of noted seafarers. The outbreak of the Second World War, with the spread of mass communication and the active nature of the world's navies, also led to a number of ship's cats becoming celebrities in their own right.
Blackie was HMS Prince of Wales's ship's cat. During the Second World War, he achieved worldwide fame after Prince of Wales carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic to NS Argentia, Newfoundland, in August 1941, where he secretly met with the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt for several days in a secure anchorage. This meeting resulted in the declaration of the Atlantic Charter, but as Churchill prepared to step off Prince of Wales, Blackie approached. Churchill stooped to bid farewell to Blackie, and the moment was photographed and reported in the world media. In honour of the success of the visit, Blackie was renamed Churchill. Blackie survived the sinking of Prince of Wales by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service later that year, and was taken to Singapore with the survivors. He could not be found when Singapore was evacuated the following year and his fate is unknown.
Chibley was the ship's cat aboard the tall ship Barque Picton Castle. She was rescued from an animal shelter and circumnavigated the world five times. Picton Castle’s role as a training ship resulted in Chibley being introduced to a large number of visitors and becoming a celebrity in her own right. Chibley died on November 10, 2011, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. She had sailed over 180,000 miles at sea.
Convoy was the ship's cat aboard HMS Hermione. He was so named because of the number of times he accompanied the ship on convoy escort duties. Convoy was listed in the ship's book and provided with a full kit, including a tiny hammock in which he slept. He was killed along with 87 of his crew mates when Hermione was torpedoed and sunk on 16 June 1942 by German submarine U-205.
Emmy was the ship's cat on RMS Empress of Ireland. She was an orange tabby cat who never missed a voyage. However, on 28 May 1914, Emmy jumped ship while in port in Quebec City. The crew returned her to the ship, but she left again, leaving her kittens behind. The Empress of Ireland left without her, which was regarded as a terrible omen. Early the next morning Empress of Ireland collided with SS Storstad while steaming through fog at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and rapidly sank, killing over 1,000 people.
Felix was the ship's cat aboard Mayflower II when she set sail from Devon, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1957 to symbolize the solidarity between the UK and the US following World War II. He was given his own life jacket and once suffered a broken paw after a mishap. The paw was set by the ship's doctor. Photos and stories about Felix appeared in National Geographic, Life, and Yankee magazine after his arrival in the US. The cat and the rest of the crew marched in a New York ticker tape parade and toured the East Coast that summer. He was eventually adopted by the cabin boy's girlfriend, Ann Berry, and settled in Waltham, Massachusetts. The current captain of the Mayflower II wrote a children's book about Felix entitled Felix and his Mayflower II Adventures. The book was published during the celebration of the ship's fiftieth anniversary at Plimoth Plantation.
Halifax was the name given to Alvah and Diana Simon's ship's cat who was found in the port of Halifax, on their way to winter at Tay Bay in 1994, on Roger Henry. The cat spent all of the time iced in on the boat with Alvah, when Diana had to leave for family purposes. Alvah's book North To The Night describes his adventure in the ice with Halifax the cat, who ended up losing half an ear to frostbite.
Jenny was the name of the ship's cat aboard Titanic and was mentioned in the accounts of several of the crew members who survived the ocean liner's fateful 1912 maiden voyage. She was transferred from Titanic's sister ship Olympic and gave birth in the week before Titanic left Southampton. The galley is where Jenny and her kittens normally lived, cared for by the victualling staff who fed them kitchen scraps. Stewardess Violet Jessop later wrote in her memoir that the cat "laid her family near Jim, the scullion, whose approval she always sought and who always gave her warm devotion."
Jenny and her kittens went down with the ship.
Kiddo seemed to have stowed away on the airship America, when she left from Atlantic City, New Jersey, in an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1910. Kiddo was upset at first by the experience, but settled in and evidently, was better at predicting bad weather than the barometer. The airship's engines failed, and the small crew and Kiddo abandoned the America for lifeboats when they sighted the Royal Mail steamship Trent, near Bermuda. Kiddo then was retired from being a ship's cat and was taken care of by Edith Wellman Ainsworth, the daughter of the American journalist, explorer, and aviator, Walter Wellman, who made the daring attempt.
Mrs Chippy (actually a male) was the ship's cat aboard Endurance, the ship used by Sir Ernest Shackleton for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. When the ship was lost, having become trapped and eventually crushed in pack ice, Shackleton ordered the sled dogs and Mrs Chippy shot, as Shackleton had decided that the animals could not be kept during the arduous journey ahead.
Nansen was the ship's cat on Belgica, which was used for the Belgian Antarctic Expedition. He was brought on board by cabin boy Johan Koren, and was named after Fridtjof Nansen. He died on 22 June 1898, and was buried in the Antarctic.
Peebles was the ship's cat aboard HMS Western Isles. Another cat who became a favourite of the ship's crew, he was known to be particularly intelligent and would shake the hands of strangers when they entered the wardroom.
Rinda was the ship's cat on the Norwegian cargo ship SS Rinda, which was torpedoed and sunk during World War II. When the surviving crew realized that their beloved ship's cat was not on board the lifeboat, they rowed around in the night until they finally heard a pitiful "miauu" in the distance. "We rowed as hard as we could and laughed and cried when we lifted the sopping wet furball aboard". The cat became the ship's cat aboard the rescue ship, the British armed naval trawler HMT Pict, and was given the name Rinda after the previous ship.
Simon was the ship's cat of HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident in 1949, and was wounded in the bombardment of the ship which killed 25 of Amethyst’s crew, including the commanding officer. He soon recovered and resumed killing rats and keeping up the crew's morale. He was appointed to the rank of 'Able Seacat' Simon and became a celebrity after the ship escaped the Yangtze and returned to Britain. He later succumbed to an infection and died shortly after. Tributes poured in and his obituary appeared in The Times. He was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, the only cat ever to earn the award, and was buried with full naval honours.
Tarawa was a kitten rescued from a pillbox during the Battle of Tarawa by the United States Coast Guard. She was a mascot aboard an LST, but did not get along with the LST's other mascot, a dog named Kodiak, and jumped ship ashore.
Tiddles was the ship's cat on a number of Royal Navy aircraft carriers. He was born aboard HMS Argus, and later joined HMS Victorious. He was often seen at his favourite station, on the aft capstan, where he would play with the bell-rope. He eventually travelled over 30,000 miles (48,000 km) during his time in service.
Trim was the ship's cat on a number of the ships under the command of Matthew Flinders during voyages to circumnavigate and map the coastline of Australia during 1801–1803. He became a favourite of the crew and was the first cat to circumnavigate Australia. He remained with Flinders until death. He has been the subject of a number of works of literature, and statues have been placed in his honour, including one that sits on a window sill at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney.
Previously named Oscar, he was the ship's cat of the German battleship Bismarck. When she was sunk on 27 May 1941, only 116 out of a crew of over 2,200 survived. Oscar was picked up by the destroyer HMS Cossack (one of the ships responsible for destroying Bismarck). Cossack herself was torpedoed and sunk a few months later, on 24 October, killing 159 of her crew, but Oscar again survived to be rescued, and was taken to Gibraltar. He became the ship's cat of HMS Ark Royal, which was torpedoed and sunk in November that year. Oscar was again rescued, but it was decided at that time to transfer him to a home on land. By now known as Unsinkable Sam because of surviving the three ship sinkings, he was given a new job as mouse-catcher in the Governor General's of Gibraltar office buildings. He eventually returned to the UK and spent the rest of his life at the 'Home for Sailors'. A portrait of him exists in the private collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
One notable example is Toolbox (a feral kitten born in a toolbox), the senior ship's cat, official warrant officer and "Captain's Assistant" aboard the modern Kalmar Nyckel. A celebrity in her own right, she is the subject of two books. Also, American sailor Robin Lee Graham was the youngest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, beginning in 1965. A number of ship's cats were included in the chronicles for the National Geographic Magazine (1968–1970) and detailed in the 1972 book Dove, which was adapted into the 1974 film The Dove.
There are at least two books called The Ship's Cat: a 1977 children's book by Richard Adams and Alan Aldridge, and a 2000 novel by Jock Brandis. Matthew Flinders' Cat is a 2002 novel by Bryce Courtenay featuring tales about Trim, the ship's cat that circumnavigated Australia. In Fish Head, a 1954 children's book by Jean Fritz, the eponymous cat unwittingly becomes a ship's cat.
In science fiction, the role of the ship's cat has been transferred to spaceships. Notable examples include Cordwainer Smith's 1955 short story "The Game of Rat and Dragon" and Andre Norton's 1968 novel The Zero Stone featuring a telepathic mutant feline named Eet. Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls features a cat named Pixel who travels on various space adventures with the narrator. On film, Alien (1979) and the sequel Aliens (1986) feature Jones ("Jonesy") aboard USCSS Nostromo.
[Polydactyl cat's] large feet were thought to make them superior mousers, as well as provide better balance on the high seas.
Beata Harju (born in May, 1990) is a Finnish-born actress and filmmaker. Her most notable filmmaking credits include screenwriter and Mymble for Moomins on the Riviera (2014), based on Tove Jansson's comic strips, and assistant director for the 24-episode TV-series Tommys Supersoffa (2013). In 2011, Beata and her fellow filmmakers won Duran Duran’s worldwide Genero.TV competition, becoming the official music video of their single, "Safe: In the Heat of the Moment". She made her national theatre acting debut in 2012 as Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Jane in August: Osage County at Svenska Teatern, the Swedish National Theatre, in Helsinki, Finland. In Moomins on the Riviera, Beata plays the Mymble in Finnish and Swedish, and the Ship's Cat and Maid in the British English version.Beata is an alumnus of Sarah Lawrence College and the Professional Performing Arts School in New York, as well as Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki, Finland. She will get her MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2019.Black cat
A black cat is a domestic cat with black fur that may be a mixed or specific breed. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) recognizes 22 cat breeds that can come with solid black coats. The Bombay breed is exclusively black. All-black fur pigmentation is slightly more prevalent in male cats than female cats. Their high melanin pigment content causes most black cats to have yellow (golden) eyes (irises).Captain Clawbeak
Captain Clawbeak is an Australian children's book series written by Anne Morgan and published by Random House Australia. It features the adventures of Clawbeak, a loud-mouthed, salty macaw from the pirate ship, Red Herring.
The story starts when Clawbeak escapes the clutches of the dreaded pirate, Daggers Diehard and the ship's cat Fangsy, and goes to live ashore with young Jack Dawkins and his family.Dickin Medal
The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in World War II. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown, and pale blue. It is awarded to animals that have displayed "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units". The award is commonly referred to as "the animals' Victoria Cross" (although the Victoria Cross Trust has opposed this association).Maria Dickin was the founder of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a British veterinary charity. She established the award for any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with British Empire armed forces or civil emergency services. The medal was awarded 54 times between 1943 and 1949 – to 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and a ship's cat – to acknowledge actions of gallantry or devotion during the Second World War and subsequent conflicts. The awarding of the medal was revived in 2000 to honour Gander, a Newfoundland dog, who saved infantrymen during the Battle of Lye Mun. In early 2002, the medal was given in honour of three dogs for their role responding to the September 11 attacks; it was also awarded to two dogs serving with Commonwealth forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. In December 2007, 12 former recipients buried at the PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex, were afforded full military honours at the conclusion of a National Lottery-aided project to restore the cemetery.The first recipients of the award, in December 1943, were three pigeons, serving with the Royal Air Force, all of whom contributed to the recovery of air crew from ditched aircraft during the Second World War. The most recent animal to be cited for the honour is Kuga, a Belgian Malinois who served with the Special Air Service Regiment in Afghanistan in 2012.As of October 2018, the Dickin Medal has been awarded 70 times, plus one honorary award made in 2014 to all the animals that served in the First World War.Feral cat
A feral cat is a freely ranging wild-living domestic cat (Felis catus) that avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Some feral cats may become more comfortable with people who regularly feed them, but even with long-term attempts at socialization they usually remain fearful.
Attempts to control feral cat populations are widespread. Some advocate trap-neuter-return programs to prevent the cats from continuing to breed, as well as feeding the cats, socializing and adopting out young kittens, and providing healthcare. Others advocate euthanasia. Feral cats often live outdoors in colonies: these are called managed colonies when they are provided with regular food and care by humans.Kalmar Nyckel
Kalmar Nyckel (Key of Kalmar) was a Swedish ship built by the Dutch famed for carrying Swedish settlers to North America in 1638, to establish the colony of New Sweden. The name Kalmar Nyckel comes from the Swedish city of Kalmar and nyckel meaning key in Swedish. The name was also a tribute to Kalmar Castle which was a symbol of power during the time of the Swedish Empire when Sweden was a military great power. A replica of the ship was launched at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1997.Kiddo (disambiguation)
Kiddo was a P-Funk group.
Kiddo may also refer to:
Anna Chalon (Kiddo)
Beatrix Kiddo, protagonist of the Kill Bill films
Kiddo (album), the second album of the Swedish pop singer-songwriter Tove Styrke
Kiddo, ship's cat: see America (airship)Matthew Flinders' Cat
Matthew Flinders' Cat is a 2002 novel by Bryce Courtenay (ISBN 0670910619), published by Viking Press. It records the relationship between a homeless former lawyer and alcoholic, and a young skateboard riding boy with a troubled background, who slowly bond over tales of Matthew Flinders and "Trim", the ship's cat who travelled with him on his voyages to circumnavigate Australia.Mouser
Mouser may refer to:
A domestic cat used for hunting rodents, e.g. a farm cat or ship's cat
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Mouser Electronics, an online distributor of electronic components
A fictional type of rat catching robots from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series
A boss in the video game Super Mario Bros. 2 and recurring villain for cartoon segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!Pill, Somerset
Pill is a village in North Somerset, England, situated on the southern bank of the Avon, about 4 miles (6 km) northwest of Bristol city centre. The village is the largest settlement in the civil parish of Pill and Easton-in-Gordano (until 2011 named Easton in Gordano). The former hamlets of Lodway and Ham Green are now contiguous with Pill, and the village of Easton in Gordano is nearby. The parish extends northwest beyond the M5 motorway to include the Royal Portbury Dock.SS Hopelyn
SS Hopelyn was a Merchant vessel from Newcastle which became stranded and then wrecked on Scroby Sands of the Norfolk coast on 17 October 1922.Shirehampton
Shirehampton is a district of Bristol in England, near Avonmouth at the northwestern edge of the city.
It originated as a separate village, retains a High Street with a parish church and shops, and is still thought of as a village by many of its 6,867 inhabitants. Although on the far northwest corner, and largely separated from the rest of Bristol by a broad swathe of parkland extending from the Blaise Castle estate, with the River Avon forming a barrier for access to Somerset, the community is still a convenient location from which to reach all parts of the city and its work environment.
Travel is also easy from Shirehampton into Gloucestershire, South Wales and Somerset since it lies within easy reach of all the main motorways in the area, including the M5, the M4 Second Severn Crossing, and the M49, and it is served by the A4 Portway and by Shirehampton railway station, which allow access to near the city centre. It is informally known to local people as "Shire".Simon (cat)
Simon (c. 1947 – 28 November 1949) was the ship's cat who served on the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Amethyst. In 1949, during the Yangtze Incident, he received the PDSA's Dickin Medal after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, raising morale, and killing off a rat infestation during his service.The Ship's Cat
The Ship's Cat, also known under its full title of The Adventures & Brave Deeds Of The Ship's Cat On The Spanish Maine: Together With The Most Lamentable Losse Of The Alcestis & Triumphant Firing Of The Port Of Chagres, is a 1977 children's narrative poem that was written by Richard Adams with illustrations by Alan Aldridge. The book was first published through Jonathan Cape and describes the adventures of an anthropomorphic Elizabethan ship's cat.Tiddles (disambiguation)
Tiddles was a famously fat cat.
Tiddles may also refer to:
List of Are You Being Served? characters#Tiddles, Mrs Slocombe's cat on Are You Being Served?
Ship's cat#Tiddles, a Royal Navy ship's cat
Tiddles the Tiger snake, a character in the Australian children's television cartoon series Kangaroo Creek Gang
Tiddles, a 1970 play by Henry Livings
Tiddles evelinae, a genus of the Procerodidae family of marine flatworms
A cultivar of DelphiniumTrim (cat)
Trim was a ship's cat who accompanied Matthew Flinders on his voyages to circumnavigate and map the coastline of Australia in 1801–03.Unsinkable Sam
Unsinkable Sam (also known as Oskar or Oscar) is the nickname of a real or fictitious cat, reportedly in service as a ship's cat during World War II both in the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy, surviving the sinking of three ships in total.