Vintage Cannon Fodder

Way back in your great-great-grandfather’s days in the Navy, it was customary for sailors to pose the ship’s mascot in one of the big guns. Don’t worry, they weren’t loaded. (The guns, that is. The sailors, that’s another story.)

Images from Flickr Commons: The ship’s cats, HMS ‘Hawkins’ (top) and A cat on HMAS Encounter



  1. winston says:

    Go Navy, Get the kitties.

  2. Argyle Donkeypants says:

    Hmm. That’s quite a large ca(t)liber gun they’ve got there.

    I just hope these ships don’t run into a giant nuffberg. Battle stations everyone!

  3. I was about to say “Well of course they needed cats on ships to get the mice”but let’s face it these photos are proof the navy just wants CUTE KITTENS to play with when at sea 🙂

  4. “Don’t shoot the kitty!”


    “I think that’s a new record Leftenant!”

  5. 260Oakley says:

    The US Navy launches its latest campaign to bring about world peace by bombarding heads of state with kittens. Codename: Operation Catapult
    World leaders react favorably to the mews.

  6. aaaaand cue the nuffers….

  7. oooh, my comment is awaiting moderation! oh well, i guess i said something naughty. in other news, sailors like cute kitties too!

  8. @260Oakley
    I was wallowing in a really good funk until I saw your post. Now I’m smiling, darn it.

  9. Ah, the traditions of the Royal Navy. “Rum, sodomy and the lash, and kittens.”

  10. And before anybody gets upset, I didn’t say it. It was Winston Churchill. 😛

  11. I’m re-reading O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels–actually, I’m listening to the audiobooks for the first time–happily awaiting the episodes where Maturin names the ship’s cat Scourge and where he angrily exclaims, “Jack, you have debauched my sloth.”

  12. I wonder if there have been any studies on the rates of PTSD among units with pets/mascots versus those without. I know my dogs were a great comfort while I worked EMS, I know it’s not the same as war but the principle is similar.

  13. I checked out the website below the kitty photos–it’s the National Maritime Museum site. It’s really a great site!–check it out.

  14. Mary (the first) says:

    Awwww, kittens!! Very sweet.

  15. Haha, in the second photo, the kitty looks so comfy!

  16. Huh. The US Navy used to be run entirely by cats. Who knew?

  17. d’oh, read the caption again. HMS means His/Her Majesty’s Ship, and HMAS means His/Her Majesty’s Australian Ship. It was the BRITISH navy that used to be run entirely by cats.

    Which totally makes sense, what with the whole Brittania Rules the Waves thing.

  18. AWW 😀 I hope those kitties lived long and happy lives once they left the Navy 😀 or lived on a naval base for the rest of their sweet little lives 😀

  19. Hon Glad says:

    Progress of cat run Ships, was slow through the Med, as when ever a shoal of Tuna was spotted a fishing party was launched.

    Theresa – Another version of your quoteis “Rum, Bum and a concertina” 🙂

  20. DewiCasgwent says:

    Unfortunately Pets and Mascots aboard ships was banned in the 70’s. And they weren’t just cat, there were Dogs, Goats, Mongeese, Monkeys, Wallabys even Bears.

    Teresa, don’t worry the Armed forces are real softies when it comes to their animals, there are two official versions

    Regimental pets, these are ‘owned’ by the Officers and Men, who take great care of them through out their lives usually retiring with some member of the regiment

    Or some Regiments have been the honour of a mascot, in which case the animal is actually enlisted in the regiment drawing pay (in food) and enjoying full medical benefits from the Army Vets even in retirement.

    There is even a memorial for all the animals that have served with the armed forces in London

  21. All togheter now:

    Catnip Aweigh, my boys
    Catnip Aweigh
    Farewell to plushy toys
    We sail at break of day, ‘ay ‘ay ‘ay

  22. glassroseheart says:

    I kinda get why they banned pets and mascots, but I would imagine having an animal around would be great for the mental health of the sailors. Being on an active war ship does put the cats and other animals at risk, so it is a bit cruel, but I’m sure the animals got more attention on the ship than they would in a family home. I guess it could also distract the sailors, but if they were dedicated to the Navy, they would only play with the animals on downtime. Even if they were slightly distracted, the reduction in stress would improve productivity and most likely improve post-war recovery in the members of the Navy.

  23. BeckyMonster says:

    Those cats are dead now… (scratch, scratch, scratch)

    Sorry, HAD to say it. It’s been forever since we had vintage photos! Andy by the way people, I love cats. It’s an inside CO joke, so don’t get your undies in a bunch.

  24. So cute!

  25. A catnon?

  26. @Hon Glad, a concertina? I don’t think I want to know!

  27. “The orchestra had quite a surprise planned for that evening’s performance of the 1812 Overture.”

  28. edmundh says:

    I polished the barrels so care-ful-lee, and now I’m a feline in the Queen’s Nay-vee!

  29. The Army also liked kittehs and cannons.

  30. Calliope says:

    Hoarse et al, if anyone hasn’t read this article from last year on a therapy dog helping a veteran with PTSD, it’s one of the best animal stories I’ve read. And there’s a video too 🙂

  31. tesstricks says:

    I only recently learned about the Royal Navy’s tradition of ship’s cats, as well as the unofficial title of Chief Mouser that is held by the resident cat of 10 Downing. You Brits rock, seriously. 🙂

  32. binky-mama says:

    Luvs me some vintage Qte!

  33. I expect the major problem was getting the cats to come out of the tubes.

  34. I Canon has cheezburger?

  35. @Theresa
    sadly the Rums all gone (Unless your Canadian 🙂 )
    the floggins have dissapered (Except in kinky ports)
    and the kitties are left ashore
    but theres all the sodomy you can handle (And then some o_O)

    loves the kitties btw XD

  36. Oh, what shall we do with the kitties, Cap’n,
    What shall we do with the kitties, Cap’n,
    What shall we do with the kitties, Cap’n?
    Put them in the cannons!

    (So we can all photograph them then ooh & aah. In private of course!)

  37. @DewiCasgwent 😀 AWW 😀 Thank you for the information about the kitties 😀 I am glad to know that the US Navy gave those kitties loving homes 😀

  38. platedlizard says:

    My favorite ship cat is Simon of the HMS Amethyst!

    I dare you to read that and not tear up a little.