Thursday, September 29, 2016

Martin, Cats and More Cats

I posted an item a few days ago about Mrs Chippy, the cat that accompanied the Shackleton Arctic expedition and came to a sticky end when the expedition ship was caught in the ice. Mrs Chippy didn't have 9 lives after all. Anyway, it inspired Martin S, who regularly corrects items posted, to send me an email about some other notable cats. Thanks Martin.

Here is Martin's contribution:


I am pleased that you had an article on Mrs Chippy, one of the most undated, and fearless master of us humans, the not so humble Cat. Too often overlooked to other imposters, such as the horse dog or ……the Pigeon!


We should be reminded of Australia’s own naval contribution of Felis Catus, being, of course, Trim.
Trim proudly in front of the NSW State Library.

Trim undertook the first circumnavigation of Australia, assisted by Matthew Flinders, and was later interned in Mauritius on his return trip to England. Trim suffered a fate far worse than Mrs Chippy. Eaten by those horrible French Savages, who obviously had run out of frogs, snails or horses for their consumption.

I believe Bryce Courtenay wrote a book about him.


Perhaps for a war hero, we should look no further than Simon.

Simon escaped on board the HMS Amethyst, when in Hong Kong docks in 1948, no doubt saving him from a fate that befell our beloved Trim.

The Amethyst was caught up in the Yangtze Incident in 1949 during the Chinese Civil war. Shots were fired, Simon was injured, and some sailors died.

Simon, sporting one of his war service medals

Simon's role on the Amethyst was one of keeping up morale, preventing plague by personally disposing of vermin, and inspecting the operations of the ship.

Simon never fully recovered from wounds received in action, and was awarded the Dickin Medal posthumously (for us humans, the equivalent of a VC).

Recognition of military exploits are surrounded by controversy. Between 1943 and 1949, the Dickin had been awarded to 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and Simon. A bloody disgrace, and no wonder our feline masters take pleasure in dispatching those, as Woody Allen puts it, “Rats with Wings”. 

It should be noted that the entire crew of the Amethyst attended Simon’s funeral.

Simon’s life was put to film in 1957 in the “Yangtse Incident”, and no, it does not feature Chairman Meow.

On a further nautical note:

Polydactyl Cats and Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was the pet of a great number of moggies. 

He amused them by telling them a story of catching a big fish!

One of his favourite owners was a polydactyl cat (many toes) that had previously spent a considerable time at sea.

This genetically inherited trait is considered advantageous to a sea going puss, as it greatly aids the hunting and climbing on a ship.

Yep. More thumbs than a Koala

Hemingway bequeathed his house to his polydact owner, and it remains in the many toed family to this day.

Hemingway stated:

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

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