Legendary Ship’s Cats


Image by IsaszaCC BY 4.0Source
This article was first published on #FolkloreThursday.com titled Ship’s Cats in Legend and Folklore written by zteve t evans.

Ship’s Cats

Ship’s cats have been sailing the seven seas alongside humans for centuries. They were not usually taken along as pets or tourists, but performed an essential role controlling vermin. Rodents managed to find their way on to most types of ships and cats being a natural enemy were taken along to reduce their number.

Vermin Control

Rats and mice could cause all sorts of problems for sailors. Ships carried many different types of cargo and the profits of the ship owners and crew depended on keeping that cargo as safe as possible. Rodents would eat and contaminate anything edible such as grain or food and ships also carried sufficient provisions and stores for the crew which needed protection. Rodents also gnaw and chew inedible items such as rope or woodwork causing problems with the working of the ship. In modern ships, electric cables or hoses were also vulnerable to rodent attack, often leading to fires or breakdowns. Rodents carried disease, and in the small enclosed community of a ship infections could spread rapidly. Cats, being natural predators, made a good choice for rodent control onboard while offering companionship to the sailors.

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9 thoughts on “Legendary Ship’s Cats

  1. Fascinating material, Zteve! . . . I sense another book by Zteve T. Evans, in addition to the Havelock the Dane book! I’m serious, Zteve; these would be excellent for a book of yours. As I’m sure you’ve read, also, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home is a hotbed of polydactyl kitties. When I worked in shelters in the U.S. (not near Florida, Midwestern U.S.), they were fairly common; I presumed that feral/barn cat colonies (or, simply, unfixed cats making more kittens!) would pass polydactyly along as a dominant trait(?).

    • Hi Leigh, Lovely to hear from you! Thanks it was a fun subject to work on and it was a shame I had to leave out some great ship’s cats who were great characters so maybe there will be more to come. I am a cat lover so any kind of cat is great for me no matter how many toes it has! Thanks for commenting appreciated!

  2. I had a polydactal cat and her extra toes actually made it impossible to catch vermin as they would click clack on the ground when she walked. But she used her thumbs to grab dragonflies out of the air by clasping her paws round them

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