The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 17, 2013

July 17, 1918

By the time the RMS Carpathia could reach the scene where the  RMS Titanic sank, (April 15, 1912) and gather up the survivors (750 people and three dogs). 1502 people had drowned as well as many animals. There were so many dogs aboard that a dog show had been planned aboard the ship.  There was apparently only one cat on board that had a name, and it's  fate is not certain.

We quote from a centennial anniversary writeup about the Titanic's resident mouser.

The Titanic apparently had her own feline mascot, a ship’s cat that stewardess Violet Jessop said was called Jenny. While the ship was being loaded at Southampton, Jenny presented her keepers with a litter of kittens. Versions of the fate of this new family vary.

According to one, they died when the Titanic went down. According to another report, when the ship docked at Southampton, Jenny calmly transported her kittens off the doomed ship, one by one, and left for a new life.

An Irish crewman who had been assigned to look after the cats took that as a bad omen and also left, claiming the cats had saved his life.

Probably there is little basis for the story of Jenny's leaving early. However, no one else has mentioned THIS undeniable fact: The Titanic was not Jenny's home ship. That was the Olympic. She may have just not understood she was supposed to stay in this new strange smelling ship, and keep on hunting rats.  By the time the ship got to Southampton, from Belfast, She may have been trying to find what she thought was her home, this other ship.  Or, she may have felt the dogs presented a threat to her kittens. But it is all surmise. 

The rescue ship, the RMS Carpathia,  was attacked by a German sub on July 17, 1918,  in an engagement off Ireland.  Five lives were lost when the Carpathia sank.  

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