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HomeAmerican HistoryCats within the Navy: Guide Explores the Secret Lifetime of Sea Cats

Cats within the Navy: Guide Explores the Secret Lifetime of Sea Cats


What frequent issue has united sailors throughout arguably all time intervals and international locations throughout the globe? Some would possibly guess tattooing or swearing, however cats is perhaps a greater reply.

Sure, cats. Felines aren’t recognized for a love of water — so it’s going to doubtless shock most individuals that they’ve a protracted and illustrious historical past of naval service. What is perhaps much more stunning 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 Battle 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 consists of most likely the biggest extant revealed assortment of seagoing cat pictures. The creator’s favourite photograph is one among a cat named Bounce, the mascot of the USS Chicago, who was educated by sailors to offer a salute.

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

Cats had been thought of fortunate by sailors, Christenson mentioned, and had been appreciated for his or her skills 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 actual fact, 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 thankfully 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 mushy spot for his or her whiskered pals, taking them in every single place. Sailors truly contributed to a worldwide cat diaspora — so the subsequent time you rejoice Caturday, thank a sailor. 

Other than trying cute 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 kinds of cats thought of notably fortunate by some — though images within the guide show that no person can resist a bright-eyed tabby.

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

This playful kitten was “captured” by the crew of the USS Langley 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 expertise eradicated the necessity for handbook rat removing 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 collaborating in festivities reminiscent of birthday events and funerals for fuzzy mascots, based on Christenson — “the optics of it” appeared frivolous, he mentioned. (However that didn’t cease beloved ships’ cats from having fun with swish retirement in Navy workplaces.)

Other than ruling their homeowners’ 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 keep in mind 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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