Cats in the Navy: Book Explores the Secret Life of Sea Cats


What frequent issue has united sailors throughout arguably all time durations and international locations throughout the globe? Some may guess tattooing or swearing, however cats could be a greater reply.

Sure, cats. Felines aren’t recognized for a love of water — so it’ll doubtless shock most individuals that they’ve an extended and illustrious historical past of naval service. What could be much more shocking is that many cats, recognized for his or her domesticity, loved life on the excessive seas, catching fish and seagulls and lounging in snug spots aboard ships.

In his guide “Cats within the Navy“, creator Scot Christenson, communications director for the U.S. Naval Institute, takes a deep dive into the historical past of crusing cats — from Nile barges in historical Egypt to World Conflict II battleships. Certain to be a favourite for cat lovers, the guide explores the little-known points of felines and naval historical past.

The guide takes a deep dive into the historical past of cats at sea. (Courtesy Naval Institute Press)

It additionally contains most likely the most important extant printed assortment of seagoing cat pictures. The creator’s favourite picture is one in every of a cat named Bounce, the mascot of the united statesChicago, who was educated by sailors to offer a salute.

“Cats had been thought of to be a part of the crew,” Christenson stated. “Additionally when the cats handed away, they had been even given burials at sea with full honors identical to different crew members.”

Cats had been thought of fortunate by sailors, Christenson stated, and had been appreciated for his or her talents to maintain ships freed from rats. They had been in fact additionally appreciated for his or her cuteness and companionship, and gained the love of many sailors who served with them. In truth, the crew of the SS Texel refused to desert their cat after their ship was torpedoed by a U-boat in 1918. The service provider sailors begged the German commander to permit them to rescue their cat Mickey from the sinking vessel. The Germans complied, and Mickey was evacuated in a lifeboat.

J.E. Corridor, a member of a Naval armed guard for the S.S. Jupiter, poses with cats named Mouse and Snow circa 1917-18. After being torpedoed by a U-boat in 1918, service provider sailors on the SS Texel hesitated to desert ship with out rescuing their cat Mickey — and luckily the German U-boat commander granted their request. (U.S. Naval Historical past and Heritage Command)

The guide, which additionally features a shut examination of the roles of ships’ cats, demonstrates that powerful sailors of each selection and outline had a smooth spot for his or her whiskered associates, taking them in every single place. Sailors truly contributed to a worldwide cat diaspora — so the following time you have a good time Caturday, thank a sailor. 

Except for wanting lovable in miniature sleeping hammocks and proving themselves helpful at nabbing rats, cats acquired deeper meanings to many sailors over time, turning into the topics of reverence and superstition. Black cats, calico cats and polydactl cats (cats with further toes) are amongst sorts of cats thought of significantly fortunate by some — though photographs within the guide show that no one can resist a bright-eyed tabby.

The guide additionally features a “Claws of Fame” part containing the tales of varied cats in nautical historical past. Christenson’s favourite is the story of Miss Hap — a kitten rescued through the Korean Conflict by a sympathetic U.S. Marine.

This playful kitten was “captured” by the crew of the united statesLangley after being discovered on Majuro Atoll within the Marshall Islands on the ship’s first battle cruise in 1944. (U.S. Naval Historical past & Heritage Command)

There aren’t any cats allowed on U.S. Navy ships now. Improved know-how eradicated the necessity for guide rat elimination and worldwide quarantine rules resulted within the decline and fall of the ocean cat empire. To not point out the truth that some U.S. authorities officers didn’t take kindly to Navy officers taking part in festivities equivalent to birthday events and funerals for fuzzy mascots, in line with Christenson — “the optics of it” appeared frivolous, he stated. (However that didn’t cease beloved ships’ cats from having fun with sleek retirement in Navy places of work.)

Except for ruling their house owners’ houses (and the Web), cats have additionally turned out to be rulers of the waves. The subsequent time you mirror on naval warfare or the rise and fall of world empires, simply do not forget that behind each nice sailor in historical past was a cat. In all probability.

Cats within the Navy

by Scot Christenson, Naval Institute Press

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