Simon the Celebrity Ship Cat and Other Cats At Sea: Part 1
If you're in the LA area on Feb. 4, author and photographer Paul Koudnaris will be giving a presentation about ship cats and their many adventures. If, like us, you're stuck in the frigid temps of the Northeast, then enjoy our two part series of cool tidbits about mice-catching, award-winning naval cats - straight ahead!
Simon,"The Able Seacat" was the most famous ship cat. Simon lived only 2 short years, but accomplished a level of acclaim many cats can only hope for.
Ship cats were tasked with catching rats aboard their ships, thus protecting the food supply (and the sailors' lives).
Simon was adept at this job aboard the HMS Amethyst and quickly gained a reputation as an adorable prankster, cheekily leaving his dead prey in sailors' beds and curling up in the captain's hat for naps.
During his travels, the ship ran into conflict on the Yangtze River, where brave little Simon endured some serious shrapnel wounds. Against all odds, he bounced back and resumed his rat slaughtering duties with renewed vigor.
By the time the ship was able to dock, Simon was a sensation who basically required his own PR person - literally - the Royal Navy assigned a staff member to deal with his fan mail!
He was even awarded several medals for his bravery and service. Sadly, Simon succumbed to a virus complicated by his war wounds in 1949, and hundreds attended his funeral.
Per Dr. Paul Koudounaris, author and photographer who will be presenting the ship cats lectures:
When he died, every surviving member of the crew came out to his funeral and they buried him with full military honors, because he was, after all, not just a ship cat but a comrade. He was the only cat to have ever won the Dickin medal, which is the highest award given to animals, their equivalent of the Victoria's cross.