It’s safer to be a garden cat than a ship's cat...

by Daniel Mackie November 15, 2012

...unless you're lucky!

 

Black cat paintingThis watercolour of a cat in a Japanese garden is finished , you can see it in progress on my earlier post here.

So how did your moggy become your moggy? Well, tiddles, fluffy, Derick, Steven or flossy came from Egypt, and without doubt arrived by sea. Cats are no sailors but on board ships they can catch rats and mice, so they were part passengers, part crew members. The domestication of cats is believed to date back some 9,500 years, and the practice of taking cats aboard boats and ships began not long afterwards. The Ancient Egyptians took cats on board Nile boats to catch birds in the thickets along the riverbanks. Cats were later carried on trading ships to control rodents, and that concept was adopted by traders from all nations.

Unsinkable Sam

Unsinkable Sam was a black and white patched cat. Serving on board three vessels and surviving the sinking of all three during the second world war. He was very lucky! In May 1941, the cat owned by an unknown german crewman boarded the battleship Bismarck to wage war against the royal navy during the second world war, as you may know the Bismarck, the pride of the german navy was sunk on 27 May 1941. The British destroyer HMS Cossack rescued the cat from the ocean and named him Oscar.

Oscar became the Cossack’s ship cat until on On 24 October 1941 when she was torpedoed by a German U boat outside Gibraltar. The cat once again survived this ordeal and was taken to Gibraltar where he was reasigned to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, Sam (or Oscar) was to find no luck here, on 14 November 1941 The Ark Royal was torpedoed by another german u boat. Sam survived, but his seafaring days were over, after a spell at the govener’s office in Gibraltar sam went back to the UK and spent the rest of his life curled up by a fire in a seaman’s home in Belfast.

Image © Daniel Mackie

View Daniel’s Cards and prints for sale at his shop, The DM Collection 




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