Skip

Pictures of Cats in the Sea Services
April 13, 2011 10:48 AM   Subscribe

"Sailors and cats have a special relationship that dates back thousands of years." The U.S. Naval Institute posts pictures of sailors and their cats, with photos from the 1880:s through the 1950:s.
posted by gemmy (53 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy hell, this is beyond adorable. As long as no one lights the fuse.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:52 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a kitty!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that the ancient Egyptians were the first sailors to realize the true value of having cats as shipmates.I thinks the motifs are that cats are good compagnions and because they eat rats.
posted by iustinu10 at 10:53 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy hell, this is beyond adorable. As long as no one lights the fuse.

Man, it took me like 30 seconds to realize there's actually a cat in that picture. I was all, "wait, isn't that a dog, not a cat?" Then I finally realized there was a cat there too.
posted by kmz at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy hell, this is beyond adorable. As long as no one lights the fuse.

After my pup Magnus chewed my chair all to hell last night, I was kind of hoping I could put him in a canon and light the fuse.

Fucking dogs.
posted by kbanas at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2011


See also Mrs. Chippy.
posted by gubo at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a tiny cat hammock! That'll weaken even the most cynic among us.
posted by spiderskull at 11:03 AM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Awwww.
posted by zarq at 11:04 AM on April 13, 2011


Holy God, the last one choked me up a little. Human kindness under horrible circumstances and all that...jeez...
posted by Pecinpah at 11:04 AM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sailors plus cats...I've never felt gayer for loving a combination in my life.

However, I refuse to believe that this picture of French sailors isn't staged and actually cast by Stereotypes R Us -- the berets, the stripey-shirts, and the thin mustaches aren't enough but they also have to be smoking cigarettes too! I (really want to) call fake.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:06 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, the cat hammock! Totally worth it just for that!
posted by jillithd at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2011


Somebody should show that photo of the sailors using the reflection of light from a mirror to play with the cat to the USTPO. That's definitely some prior art for a Method of Exercising a Cat.

I love that someone at the USNI gave the photos captions like "Do not want!"
posted by phoenixy at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2011


--Hello, Sailor!
--Hello, Kitty!
posted by Wolfdog at 11:10 AM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hey, there are actually two pictures of cat hammocks! Apparently they were the must-have cat fashion furniture. Makes sense as a way for kitty to sleep out of the way.
posted by exogenous at 11:18 AM on April 13, 2011


I came expecting a post on sailors getting flogged, but, no....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I'm ex-Coast Guard, and I totally love cats. I'm absolutely a cat person. Had to leave my three cats with my ex when we broke up, and it breaks my heart, but someday I'll have more.

But. When I was in the service, there was a DOG wherever I went. First it was my captain's chocolate lab, Chloe. When we were in drydock, a stray Rott puppy limped into the dockyard and started hanging out with us. We talked about adopting him. My BM1 (supervisor) suggested that if we wanted a ship's dog, we should maybe go adopt one from a known source that could verify its health. "Jim," I said, "this puppy came looking to us for help." My ship's crew, all fourteen crusty, calloused seamen, melted. (Heh heh)

I typically thought my captain was a complete douche, but when we were picking up Cuban refugees in the Gulf, we were ordered via radio traffic to destroy any animals that came along with the rafters. The skipper took one look at that message and said, "Fuck those guys." As it turned out, we found only one dog among all the rafters we picked up -- but we kept him on our ship so he wouldn't be killed during any transfers, and we found him a foster home, and made sure he was reunited with the family once they were settled in the US.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:22 AM on April 13, 2011 [67 favorites]


As it turned out, we found only one dog among all the rafters we picked up -- but we kept him on our ship so he wouldn't be killed during any transfers, and we found him a foster home, and made sure he was reunited with the family once they were settled in the US.

Awwwwwww :)
posted by you're a kitty! at 11:27 AM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awwwwwww :)
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:27 PM on April 13


Eponysterical!
posted by eriko at 11:29 AM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Related - my post from '07 about Able Seacat Simon.
posted by longbaugh at 11:36 AM on April 13, 2011


Reminds me of one of my favorite photos that's been kicking around the internet for years now of the trio of Nazi SS officers playing with a kitten.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2011


I'll also note that the cost for the replica Simon has gone up from £24.95 to £29.99. Disgraceful.
posted by longbaugh at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2011


Site's out. Our tax dollars at work.

(jonesing for kitteh cuteness)
posted by likeso at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2011


Eponysterical!

Nah, ekittysterical!
posted by kmz at 11:41 AM on April 13, 2011


Sailors and cats have a special relationship that dates back thousands of years.

I'd never, ever heard of anything like this before. I would have guessed military people would tend to be into dogs, if anything. But keeping cats on ships really makes a lot of sense.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:42 AM on April 13, 2011


At the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA there's a very affecting pen and ink memorial to a US Navy cat. It has a nice little drawing of the cat and an inscription that honors his or her bravery and patriotism. I think it's from the 18th century but I'm not sure. Anyone else seen this? I couldn't find any mention of it online.
posted by otio at 11:43 AM on April 13, 2011


I'm totally naming my next cat "Bilgewater". Awesome.
posted by LN at 11:44 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Site's out. Our tax dollars at work.

USNI claims to be non-profit and independent of government support, actually.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2011


Military guys (in my experience) do seem to tend more toward dogs, and I'd imagine on some level there are both masculinity image preferences there as well as the huge loyalty/affection factor. Even a loving, affectionate, cooperative cat shows his affection on his schedule, not the human's.

On the other hand -- the fact that cats are so much more independent than dogs would seem to make them much more practical pets to me.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2011


Site's out. Our tax dollars at work.

Still works for me...
posted by spiderskull at 11:56 AM on April 13, 2011


One reason sailors (like sailors in boats with sails...) liked having cats on board was this superstition that you could make the wind pick up on a calm day by locking the cat in a cupboard.
posted by queensissy at 12:04 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


--Hello, Sailor!
--Hello, Kitty!


Apropos of nothing, I once dreamt that I was speaking to some Japanese people who told me that the name "Hello Kitty" is a bastardiaztion of the actual name of the character. In my dream (and note that I speak basic Japanese) they informed that the iconic character is actually known in Japan as "Neko Hajimemashite" (which is the Japanese for, "Cat, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.") Since that day, I have solemnly greeted new cats with these words.

That is all.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Another reason sailors like cats is for eating rats; cats with thumbs (or as the scientifically correct prefer to call them, "polydactyl cats") are especially prized, as their [TERRIFYINGLY OPPOSABLE] extra digits are believed to give them an extra advantage when they're climbing around on the rigging.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:22 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


USNI claims to be non-profit and independent of government support, actually.

Which I would have known if I could have accessed the site...
Ah well, got there in the end. Thanks for this post, gemmy!
posted by likeso at 12:22 PM on April 13, 2011


be a hip cat, be a ship's cat
posted by scruss at 12:24 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


☆☆JOIN THE NAVY☆☆
★★★SEE A KITTY★★★
posted by oneirodynia at 12:28 PM on April 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


Today I learned that it is impossible to look like a tough guy when holding, feeding or petting a kitty.
posted by stennieville at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing brings out a person's humanity more than the care and devotion they show to animals. It is heartbreaking to think of that Japanese kitty beneath the tank being cared for by the American officer.

War is awful.
posted by JHarris at 1:00 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Needs more Unsinkable Sam.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:13 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


otio: yes, I know that of which you speak. The cat's name was Pompey.
posted by hoople at 1:18 PM on April 13, 2011


You mean this Pompey?
posted by LN at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2011


My dad joined a general cargo carrier on a run from Damascus to Houston as the chief engineer. There was a cat aboard who had belonged to a previous crew member but she took to my dad and made her home in his cabin. She enjoyed sitting on the radar screen on the bridge, and would bat at the blips. Ship lore was that she was sterile as a result of absorbing, for hours on end, whatever radiation came off the screen. Before my dad arrived, the cat had been injured when an unsecured door smacked her during some bad weather. When the seas were rough, she curled up inside a locker in Dad's cabin and refused to come out.
posted by angiep at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pompey's the one. Thanks hoople and LN. I wish that flickr photographer had gotten the whole thing as the text is very sweet (and fairly legible if memory serves).
posted by otio at 1:42 PM on April 13, 2011


Here's a cool photo of Winston Churchill and the HMS Prince of Wales' cat Blackie in 1941. Blackie was apparently trying to board the USS Augusta when Churchill and FDR met to sign the Atlantic Charter.

I feel like I've seen a picture or a video similar to this involving another head of state interacting with a cat the suddenly appears. Something like during a very solemn ceremony a cat wanders into frame and the head-of-state picks it up until the ceremony is complete? I want to say it was Putin. Does that ring a bell to anyone?
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 2:47 PM on April 13, 2011


And here's another cat in a hammock!
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 2:50 PM on April 13, 2011




Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to http://www.internic.net
for detailed information.

No match for "CATSINHAMMOCKS.COM".

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:12 PM on April 13, 2011


Oh look, another set of cats at sea!

For wartime cats on land and in the air, see this separate page.
posted by cabingirl at 3:19 PM on April 13, 2011


Something like during a very solemn ceremony a cat wanders into frame and the head-of-state picks it up until the ceremony is complete?

I don't recall that one but there's always the German TV weatherman. The periscope tail just kills me.
posted by jamaro at 3:23 PM on April 13, 2011


From cabingirl's link:

"Sadly, since 1975 the British Royal Navy has banned cats, and indeed all animals, from its ships."

This will not stand!
posted by phliar at 4:05 PM on April 13, 2011


Plenty of sailor and cat superstitions out there.

Loudly mewing cats presage a difficult voyage.
A playful cat presages a voyage with good and gusty winds.
If a cat licks its fur against the grain, a hailstorm is coming.
If a cat sneeze, rain
Ifa cat is frisky, wind.
If a cat approaches a sailor, it presages good luck
If the cat only comes halfway, it meant bad luck.

There are plenty more where those came from.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:21 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems there was more than one cat of Tarawa.

Here's the American rescue.

Here's the British rescue. (Bonus: Terror on the high seas!)
posted by maryr at 4:59 PM on April 13, 2011


The British Navy used to value ships' cats for their social role: sailors between engagements were often quarrelsome, but interacting with animal companions helped keep them peaceful. So despite having excess seamen there was no need to have friction between the crew's members. As long as they got a little pussy they'd all be happy. Of course, officers were expected to find relief in other ways. They - Wait! Come back! I didn't explain about the Captain's balls!
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:27 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something like during a very solemn ceremony a cat wanders into frame and the head-of-state picks it up until the ceremony is complete?

Was it the cat on Question Time? He didn't get any cuddles on air though.
posted by Helga-woo at 5:03 AM on April 14, 2011


and made sure he was reunited with the family once they were settled in the US

See that? That's how you get free beer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:28 AM on April 14, 2011


« Older Don Leslie birthday   |   Interchange reform is... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post