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Some ships had more than one cat (and many kittens were born at sea); and ship's cats were able to, as it were, 'rise through the ranks' to become the mascot of a particular part of a ship, such as the engine room or one of the mess-decks, before going on to maybe ultimately become the 'official' mascot of the whole vessel.From the many stories involving cats at sea during wartime, here are some we have come across.Instead a tableau shows a cat protecting ship's stores by catching a rat. Of more than 2200 men on board, only 116 survived, together with Oscar, the ship's cat (or Oskar, to use the German spelling).He was picked up by the British destroyer HMS Cossack, but she too was torpedoed a few months later, on 24 October, with the loss of 159 lives.A campaign to save her from being scrapped and preserve her for the nation was ultimately successful, and since 1971 she has been moored and open as a museum on the River Thames, close to the Tower of London.From time to time until the fairly recent past the museum also had ship's cats aboard, although since a nasty incident in 2008 when one was thrown overboard (and, in an unrelated development, his companion subsequently went missing) a decision was made not to replace them.There were stories that the Americans tried to use cats during the Vietnam war, but they were too easily distracted and either started playing or disappeared into the jungle! During the nineteenth century it is said that the Belgians tried using cats to deliver letters, but with a marked lack of success.There is one function that cats have fulfilled since time immemorial, though, and that is as ship's cats, where they kept the vessel's stores free from rodents and also acted as mascots and companions to the crew.
Later, perhaps in 1916, there appear to have been both a ship's dog and a ship's cat (outer), who were evidently friendly enough to have their photo taken together.The photo shows sailors with a young cat, which may be Frankenstein, on the starboard side of 'A' turret in about 1942.Belfast survived through the war and beyond, being decommissioned in 1963.A signal was sent to the Commander of the naval base to request her return to the UK if found but she never was.HMS Aurora Aurora carried among her armaments four of the 4-inch quickfire guns shown in the photo, which dates from 1914 while the ship was in dry dock at Devonport during her commissioning period.
Minnie was a tabby, with immaculate white paws and breast.