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Puddy Tats Go To War!! (and other Feline Adventures)

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posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:25 PM

Dogs may be man’s best friend, loyal and dependable, while cats are fickle creatures, never really belonging to one person and willing to bestow their favours on anyone who offers them a tasty treat or a satisfying rub behind the ear. But that can be their very charm.

It is their ability to freely distribute their affections amongst larger groups, combined with an empathic nature that has long made the cat a favourite on board ships, as well as among other service personnel who find themselves cooped up and far from home. This thread is therefore a tribute to all the cats who have befriended those who needed a slightly less high-maintenance furry buddy.

Trench Cats

During the First World War around half a million cats were dispatched to the trenches to help with the rats and mice as well as gas detectors. Many more however, displaced by the conflict, found their way to the trenches and their ample supply of free-range food.

It is believed that humans began domesticating cats around 11,000 years ago due to their usefulness in controlling rodents, but truth be known, dogs have long since been bred to be better ratters than cats, and proved so in the trenches. A dog will leap into action at the command of their handler, eager to please. While a cat, with a flick of the tail will let their ‘master’ know they heard the command but are choosing to ignore it. There is, after all, a sun spot over there to be slept in, and the rats will still be there come sundown. What’s the hurry?

Cats come close to rabbits on the breeding front, and in the trenches, nature did what nature does, and took it’s course. One such love kitty of war, Pitouchi, was born in the trenches and soon after his mother was killed. Fortunately for Pitouchi Lieutenant Lekeux, of the Belgian army, adopted the wee orphan.

While on reconnaissance close to the German line one day, Lekeux was sketching the construction of fresh trenches. Absorbed in his work, he failed to notice the approach of a German patrol until it was too late and ducking into a shell hole he hoped for the best. The patrol though had seen something, calling out, “He’s in the hole”.

Pitouchi, who was with him throughout the time, jumped out of the shell hole onto a timber piece lodging nearby. The Germans got startled they fired twice at the cat. Fortunately, Pitouchi was not hit and only jumped back into the shell hole where his owner was hiding.

The Germans, on the other hand, laughed and jokingly said to each other they had mistaken a cat for a man and left the area. Lekeux was able to finish his sketch before he went back into the Belgian lines with his unharmed cat on his shoulder.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:27 PM
Airforce Kitties

Unsurprisingly, it was against military regulations for cats to take to the air. A cat jumping into your lap, claws drawn, mid dog-fight would not have been helpful.

There were one or two notable exception. Jinx, the mascot at a heavy bombardment training base in Texas, took to the air on numerous training flights. As did a Calico called Kitty, just the once though, due to a base change.

Most though kept their feet on the ground, doing the rodent catching thing, as well as generally being cute and cuddly mascots, keeping air and ground crew company between flights.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:28 PM
Ship Cats

Cats have been a vital part of the mariner’s life since Ancient Egypt and it is believed that it was Phoenician traders that brought the first domesticated cats to Europe around 900BC. As a result of this age old association, Ship’s cats are perhaps the most familiar of the service felines and as such they have a whole page on Wikipedia dedicated to their service to the world’s navies.

Sailors, evidently, can be a superstition lot and cats were invariably considered good luck charms, the loss of whom could seriously affect the crew’s morale. Given the roaming nature of cats, this could lead to some nail biting come departure time.

U-boat was another ship's cat aboard a Royal Navy vessel in the Second World War, who would take shore leave whenever his ship came into port. He would spend days on shore, usually returning only just before his ship sailed. One day, U-boat failed to return in time for roll call and his ship was forced to sail. As she pulled away from the quay, U-boat was seen running down the dock after the departing ship. He made a death-defying leap onto the ship and succeeded in making it aboard. He was reported to be undaunted by his experience, proceeding to wash himself on deck. The crew members were reportedly delighted their good luck charm had returned.

Dog’s have been known to give their lives for their master, and while cats are not often quite so self-less, there is little evidence of them having deserting their posts and a couple have been awarded for their conduct under fire. One such cat wasSimon, who served aboard the Royal Navy sloop, HMS Amethyst.

Simon was found wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong in March 1948 by 17-year-old Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom, a member of the crew of the British frigate HMS Amethyst stationed in the city in the late 1940s. At this stage, it is thought Simon was approximately a year old, and was very undernourished and unwell. Hickinbottom smuggled the cat aboard ship, and Simon soon ingratiated himself with the crew and officers, particularly because he was adept at catching and killing rats on the lower decks. Simon rapidly gained a reputation for cheekiness, leaving presents of dead rats in sailors' beds, and sleeping in the captain's cap.[1]

The crew viewed Simon as a lucky mascot, and when the ship's commander changed later in 1948, the outgoing Ian Griffiths left the cat for his successor Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner, who took an immediate liking to the friendly animal. However, Skinner's first mission in command of the Amethyst was to travel up the Yangtze River to Nanking to replace the duty ship there, HMS Consort. Halfway up the river the ship became embroiled in the Yangtze incident, when Chinese Communist gun batteries opened fire on the frigate. One of the first rounds tore through the captain's cabin, seriously wounding Simon. Lieutenant Commander Skinner died of his wounds soon after the attack.

The badly wounded cat crawled on deck, and was rushed to the medical bay, where the ship's surviving medical staff cleaned his burns, and removed four pieces of shrapnel, but he was not expected to last the night. He managed to survive, however, and after a period of recovery, returned to his former duties in spite of the indifference he faced from the new ship's captain Lt Cdr John Kerans. While anchored in the river, the ship had become overrun with rats, and Simon took on the task of removing them with vigour, as well as raising the morale of the sailors.

Able Sea Cat Simon became something of a media darling, and was awarded the “Animal Victoria Cross”, the Dickin Medal, as well as the ship’s campaign medal. He evidently received so much fan mail that a ‘cat officer’ was appointed to manage his correspondence. Sadly, on his return to Plymouth, Simon contracted a virus whilst in quarantine and died. His gravestone in the PDSA cemetery reads, “Throughout the Yangtze Incident his behaviour was of the Highest Order.”

The Navy banned all animals from their ships in 1975, on hygiene grounds, however they can still be found on private vessels and the merchant navies so the tradition continues.

Despite animals being banned from most modern military units, with the exception of sniffer dogs, the ingratiating manner of cats mean that the rule is sometimes broken by those on active service.

In 2004, when the Iraq war was at its height, an American unit called the Hammers befriended a kitten born at their site; he played with them, kept their quarters rodent-free and acted as a significant morale booster. When the time came for the unit to leave, Staff Sergeant Bousfield didn't want to leave the cat behind, as he was regarded as one of their team. With the help of the American organisation Alley Cat Allies the leggy Egyptian Mau, now known as Private First Class Hammer, was taken to Kuwait and put on a flight to San Francisco. From there he was flown first class to Colorado Springs, where he was met by Rick Bousfield to start a quite different and mortar-free life with the Bousfield family and their various animals.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:28 PM
Cats in Space

Having conquered land, air and sea it should come as little surprise that cats have made their way to space as well.

Felix and Félicette were apparently two street cats in the program (10 were de-commissioned for eating too much!), with Felix being the feline chosen to undertake the first mission. According to one report, Felix escaped the flight - whether by literally escaping or being decommissioned is not known - and was replaced by the female cat Félicette. On October 18, 1963, the cat blasted off in a special capsule on top of French Véronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47, from the Colomb Bacar rocket base at the Hammaguir test range in the Algerian Sahara desert.

The cat did not actually go into orbit, but traveled 100-130 miles into space. Throughout the flight electrodes transmitted neurological impulses back to Earth. After approximately 15 minutes, the capsule separated and the pod, with cat inside, descended by parachute and was rescued. Pod and cat were safely recovered, and the French Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherches de Medecine Aeronautique (CERMA) affirmed afterwards that the cat had made a valuable contribution to research.

A second launch, six days later, was less successful for the cat concerned. Due to a delay in the recover y of the capsule, the cat was eventually found dead.

In the not-too-distant future though cats may be called upon to fulfil their more traditional role as comforters of those far from home and bestowing on astronauts the benefits of their soft warm tummies. This though will not be the primary reason why the cat may be sent into space, it will because of the power of their purr.

Scientists at the University of California, Davis hypothesised that a cat's purr can be used as a healing mechanism to offset long periods of rest and sleep that would otherwise contribute to a loss of bone density. The vibrations and contractions of a purr work during both inhalation and exhalation show a consistent pattern and frequency around 25 Hz; these frequencies have been shown to improve bone density and promote healing in animal models and humans.[14] Dr. Lyons, one of the scientists in this study, suggests that this finding may be applicable to astronauts during extended periods in zero gravity. Bone density loss and muscle atrophy is a serious concern for astronauts during extended periods at zero gravity. During these periods musculo-skeletal systems do not experience the normal stresses of physical activity, including routine standing or sitting, which requires strength for posture control. Exposing these astronauts to sound frequencies similar to those of a cat's purr could counteract the deteriorating effects of low gravity.

Those warm furry tummies are hard to resist and can heal wounds more profound than those of the flesh. Dogs definitely have their benefits and forge a special bond with their masters, but the cat, with it’s more polygamous, crowd pleasing attributes, is somewhat uniquely adapted to the trials of serving those at war or far from home and it seems only natural that they should do the same on the final frontier.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:33 PM
a reply to: KilgoreTrout

I loves them!. What an awesome post! I can't help but notice that many of them that are pictured are of the preferred stripey-variety.

He's like...

"Oh hell yes we will."

edit on 27-9-2014 by Bybyots because: . : .

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:40 PM
Great post. I had no idea about any of this stuff

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:43 PM
a reply to: Bybyots

I'm so glad you got that one to work, for some reason I could only get it to come up as a thumbnail...and he/she has the most amazing facial expression. Shell-shocked.

I like 'em stripey.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 05:51 PM
a reply to: minkmouse

Me neither...until I came upon this article (from which I obtained most of the pictures)...

And there are more stories to be found here...


posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 06:09 PM
As a male, I am often the subject of ridicule because of my love for cats. Its not that I have so many, I just spend more time with them than the average person.

I get to know them, speak their language, training them to act as obedient as a dog would sometimes. My cat comes on command, even in deep sleep and keeps me well aware of subtle details around the house that might slip past my observation.

I don't understand why people don't like them. They vary in the brains and personality department just like humans do. It boils down to how much effort you put into the relationship. They make great companions except they don't offer much for protection. Maybe if you threw your cat at a burglar it would buy you enough time to run?

Great thread by the way. An interesting topic. Can't imagine they like the crack of a gun though. I will definitely be rubbing this in my friends faces. REAL men fight along side felines!


posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 06:12 PM
a reply to: KilgoreTrout

Uh oh....did you say Puddy Tatt...

Here's a Puddy Tatt for ya...

Most bizarre cat tatt I've ever seen...


posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 09:09 PM
Learn something new everyday! Great thread, I knew they went on ships and figured they had been to space, did not think they would have been in ground combat. Kitties are tough, new respect.

posted on Sep, 27 2014 @ 09:34 PM
Best thread I've read in a year or better. Meow!

posted on Sep, 28 2014 @ 05:43 AM
a reply to: KilgoreTrout
Oh my goodness!!! How cute and awesome!! Nice

Thanks for posting this


posted on Sep, 28 2014 @ 08:22 AM
This was great read to start off my lazy Sunday morning. I definitely lean more towards being a cat person. I really think it says a lot about a person as to which one a person prefers be it cat or dog. I also think the animal itself will tell you a lot about their owner by their actions too.

That cat tat was funny as well

posted on Sep, 28 2014 @ 08:37 AM
I had no idea cats were in our military. How cool is that? Thanks so much for such an interesting and informative thread!

posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 03:27 AM

originally posted by: eisegesis
Can't imagine they like the crack of a gun though. I will definitely be rubbing this in my friends faces. REAL men fight along side felines!

Your friends are stoopid.

The thing I like about cats is that they choose to be with you. Dogs are pack animals and subservient to the alpha, so it is more of a dependency. Few cats will stick around if maltreated, they can survive by themselves, a domesticated dog is seldom able to fend for itself. That is what makes cats so well adapted to war, they don't take from the already limited resources. All they really want from 'us' is a little body heat.

About the crack of the gun, I came across an article that was about the number of cats that gravitated towards the press enclaves during the Iraq war. Here it is...

The writer points out that once a cat has heard one bomb go off, it tends to take the rest in it's stride.

posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 03:29 AM

originally posted by: Destinyone

Most bizarre cat tatt I've ever seen...


What can I say? I prefer not to mock the afflicted so shall keep my opinions to myself.

posted on Sep, 30 2014 @ 03:32 AM
Thanks to everyone for all the replies. I was going to reply to them all, but it started to feel a bit spammy. All very much appreciated though.


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