13 Military Cats Who Buoyed Sailors’ Spirits

Historically, veterans (and their families) of wars prior to the current middle east conflicts had it worse than present-day fighters. Communications were slow (letters took weeks or months to arrive), they were often hungry, and there was a lot more brutal hand-to-hand combat. Many more lives were lost.

Cats provided a welcome respite from the struggles encountered in battle. We won’t pretend that cats played a role even a millionth as valuable as that of our veterans, but in the pre-DVD era they offered entertainment between USO shows and comfort in the absence of loved ones.

The following snaps are provided by the U.S. Naval Institute. Sailor cats, we salute you!


Apprentices aboard the USS Pensacola pose with mascot cat and dogs. The Pensacola participated in Admiral David Farragut’s capture of New Orleans in 1862.

Crew of the USS Nahant with their two cats, ca 1898. The Nahant was an ironclad monitor involved in the attack on Charleston Harbor in 1863.

On the deck of the USS Olympia, crew members use a mirror to play with their cats in 1898. The Olympia was Admiral George Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila during the Spanish American War. The Olympia currently is docked in Philadelphia and is the world’s oldest floating steel warship.

Crewman of the USS Texas pose with mascot dog and cat on the muzzle of one of the ship’s 12″/35 guns, ca 1900. Built in 1892, The Texas was the first U.S. battleship and gained a reputation for being jinxed because of a series of accidents. The crew probably hoped the cat and dog would change the ship’s luck.
Two cats pose inside the naval gun of an unidentified ship prior to World War One.
The USS Mississippi’s cats climb ladders to enter their hammock, ca 1925. The Mississippi was involved in several fierce battles in the Pacific during World War Two and was hit by kamikazes twice. It survived to be among the ships in Tokyo Bay that witnessed Japan’s surrender.

The USS Flusser’s cat ‘Wockle’ on the capstan in Venice, Italy, 1924-25.

Waiting instructions in the briefing room, pilots on a US Navy aircraft carrier relax by playing with the ship’s mascot. Probably taken on the USS Ranger, July 1944

New mascot ‘Saipan’ of the USS New Mexico tries to get comfortable. cats14The New Mexico provided support during the U.S. Marine invasion of Saipan in 1944, so it it likely the cat was rescued after the battle.



“War Veteran – ‘Pooli’, who rates three service ribbons and four battle stars, served aboard an attack transport during World War II.” Los Angeles, 1959 (at age 15)

‘Bilgewater’ was the mascot of the Coast Guard Academy, circa 1944. He’s modeling the new wartime grey cadet uniform.

French sailors play with a cat as they wait to take over six LSSLs (Landing Ship Support, Light) being given to France by the US Navy under the defense aid pact. 1950



Miss Hap, a two-week old Korean kitten chows down on canned milk, piped to her by medicine dropper with the help of Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor. The Marine adopted the kitten after its mother was killed by a mortar barrage near Bunker Hill. Korea, ca 1953
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Category: Featured, Last Week, Working Cats, zzz Previous 3 cat articles

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at CatScouts.com.

Comments (4)

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  1. Fudgie says:

    pics did not show, just question marks. What format are they?

  2. Kitties Blue says:

    I was able to see photos in the e-mail but not here, and I loved them, especially the soldier feeding the kitten with the eyedropper. Thank you.

  3. Katie isabella says:

    I have to tell you I loved this so much! What a great collection of photos and stories of great interest!!! Thank you.

  4. I couldn’t see any of the photos, but most are in our Museum collection! Thanks for the great story!


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