Ship's cat Species in Red Sunrise | World Anvil

Ship's cat

Ship's cats are domestic members of the feline animal family. Scientifically known as Nauticis Felis Catus. Originally brought onto ships to hunt rodents, later turning into mascots.


Cats where domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians and they were also the first who brought the cats onto their ships, as they had problems with mice and rats eating their food supply and even the ship itself. With them the custom of having cats on board ships spread around the Mediterranean. And from there, further into the world. By the 8th century BC, Vikings had brought cats all the way home to Scandinavia on their ships.


Pest control

Originally cats were brought on board to hunt down the rodents that were eating the crew's food and the ship itself. Wood and rope are ideal for mice to gnaw on. In later, times rubber used to waterproof doors or isolation material for electrical wiring. That rubber turned out to be a delicacy for the rodents.


Due to the reduction in on board living rodents, the amount of lice, fleas and other parasites also reduced. Which had a big positive effect on the health of the crew members. Also, having no mice and rat excrements within your living space or food store might have helped.


Being far from home, for long times, can weigh heavily on the mind of sailors. Their feline shipmates have proven to be excellent comfort creatures, and bringers of entertainment on those long journeys across the world's oceans.


Due to the sensitive ears of the miniature tigers, they notice drops in atmospheric pressure where our feeble human ears fail completely to notice such things. Sailors noticed that their cat friends tend to hide below decks in advance of foul weather. When they themselves had no idea this was coming. Naturally they concluded that the cats had magical powers, sensing the bad weather coming, and their act of seeking a hiding place became a warning to the crew.
See also: Meteorological prophecies


Maybe Ancient Egyptians did worship cats themselves or they thought felines where divine in some way or another, at least it is known that some of their gods, for instance Bastet were displayed as humanoid figures with the head similar to that of a cat.

Modern sailors aren't Ancient Egyptians, but it is still considered good luck to have a cat on board a ship. Nowadays their role is mostly that of a mascot.


A lot of times cats were listed as crew members on the ship's muster roll in the logbook. Their journey recorded, for instance, the ship's cat Chibley of the tall ship Pitcon Castle circumnavigated the world five times in her life, covering over 180.000 nautical miles.

Crew members liked their cat colleagues, that they often crafted things for them. Their own hammock was a common item among those things made by sailors.

For an unknown reason, navy cats somehow love to be photographed while inspecting gun barrels.


Roger was the ship's cat of the Sunset Dawn. He was found as a stray kitten by the cook Alejandro, hanging on to his last of nine lives.

Alejandro nursed Roger back to life, but his right eye couldn't be saved. After his unfortinate start in life, he was a jolly cat. The Sunset Dawn, being a modern ship, didn't have a rodent problem or any rodents on board. So mouse hunting wasn't on Roger's to-do list. He lived off the galley scraps Alejandro fed him, or whatever any of the other crew members gave him.

Most of the time, Roger could be found hanging out on deck where he would find a sunny spot to sleep in. As soon as there was even a slight chance that the weather turning bad, he would head below and sneak into the captain's cabin to hide in Rose her bunk.

Roger did hate birds, and any seagull or other feathered creatures he'd promptly chase off the deck. Often looking up in utter discontent as the birds choose safer spots up high in the rigging.

Whenever the crew was fishing, Roger was the most active, making sure the sailors paid attention to their lines, and even checking them himself to make sure the delicious snacks were brought to him on deck.

Unfortunatly Roger went down with the ship, when the Sunset Dawn was bombed by the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela.


Tiddles, ship's cat of the HMS Victorious by Royal Navy official photographer, Parnall, C H (Lt)
ship's cat on board the CSS Acadia by Gregory B. MacKenzie


Author's Notes

In response to: Summer Camp 2021, prompt 4: A species of working animal.

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Jul 2, 2021 14:18

Oh lovely article! Love that you also gave it a scientific name Nauticis Felis Catus :p   This was an easy to read article and quite enjoyable. The little piece about roger was also a nice addition ^^

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Jul 2, 2021 14:26 by Bart Weergang

Thank you Kekfe. Felis Catus is the correct name, I added the Nauticis part. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

Jul 2, 2021 15:19 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

I also found the Nauticis addition fun :D

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Jul 2, 2021 14:22 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Kitty! Great article :D I love the little details you have everywhere. But poor Roger :(

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Jul 2, 2021 14:28 by Bart Weergang

Yes plenty cats! :) Thanks Amélie. I'm glad you like it, it has to have details right? Can't be all filler. Yes, Roger had an unlucky end, but I can promise you he had a great life.

Jul 2, 2021 18:28 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Roger, noooooooooooooo. ;-; I really like this article. The details about the history of ships' cats was really interesting, and I loved the gallery at the bottom! :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 2, 2021 19:34 by Bart Weergang

Thank you Emy! I'm sorry about Roger ;( It was really fun to investigate too. The gallery was because there is so many cool pictures, and it didn't fit inside the text, and I don't like the carousel when the pictures are not the same size so I bbcoded this into existence.

Jul 2, 2021 20:30 by E. Christopher Clark

This is fantastic! There's a great flow to it, and I love the history you've woven into each section.

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Jul 3, 2021 04:46 by Bart Weergang

Thank you :) :).

Jul 4, 2021 05:44 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

I love ship cats, so I knew I had to read this. Such a wonderful article! I especially enjoyed reading about Roger. Although his ending is very sad.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Jul 4, 2021 07:53 by Bart Weergang

Thank you Rynn :) :) cats are the best, and awesome crew members. Yeah rip Roger :(

Jul 19, 2021 11:21 by Han

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Jul 19, 2021 13:44 by Bart Weergang