Fightin’ Felines: 8 Cats That Served On The Front Lines During World Wars I and II

Cats have served as our furry friends for thousands of years, through good times and bad. Some fearless felines have even accompanied military members during times of war, showing up in the trenches, on boats, and during military camps. Their talent for mitigating rodent infestation makes these cats a valuable asset for service members to have around. Don’t believe me? Check out these eight historical images of a few fighting felines during World Wars I and II.

8. Fast As a Speeding Bullet

This kitten might not have been planning to lead the assault from on top of a 12-inch gun shell, but it was learning to get its feet beneath him. This cat was hanging out with the 444 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

7. In the Trenches … Literally

The term “fraidy cat” is apparently a misnomer, because this feline adopted the active trenches of World War I for its home. Its family, the men of the British 6th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, made it their mascot.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

6. Just Camping Out

Hanging out at Australia’s Seymour Training Camp during World War I probably wasn’t as stressful for this cat as it was for the feline’s Company O’Connor family. Still, all who are pictured appear to be doing their best to take their downtime easy.

Photo: Flickr/Australian War Memorial collection

5. Going For A Stroll

This cat took a lighthearted walk along the 15-inch guns of the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth with nary a worry. More impressive, this photo was taken on the Gallipoli Peninsula during one of the biggest campaigns of World War I. The campaign proved unsuccessful for the Allies. Hopefully, having this jaunty feline around only helped lift the spirits of those who served.

Photo: Flickr/Australian War Memorial collection

Click ‘next’ to read on and check out more wartime photos of cats!

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4. Taking Up Post

Cats might like nice cozy spaces, but this one settled for a sandbagged dugout. He seemed unconcerned about his location, which was also on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during World War I.

Photo: Flickr/Australian War Memorial collection

3. Hanging Out on the Ship

Few sailors are so privileged that they receive supervised relaxation. During World War II, these two cats even got a custom-made hammock! The felines were getting in their rest and relaxation on the Australian destroyer HMAS Nizam.

Photo: Flickr/Australian War Memorial collection

2. Love the One You’re With

When it comes to the Polish, legend has it that cats on ships can be a good luck charm. This kitty trio was being cuddled by sailors on the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun during World War II. Apparently, it is a bad omen if the cats desert the ship before she sets sail.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1. Peebles the Sailor Cat

Peebles was the mascot of the British Royal Navy’s HMS Western Isles during World War II. This cat took advantage of his time on the water by learning a few fun skills, like shaking hands with strangers and jumping through hoops made by his lieutenant commander.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Much has changed in the military field since World Wars I and II, but that doesn’t mean the role for cats has gone away. Where there are pests, cats will be needed, and they likely won’t be far behind their prey.

Cats aren’t the only animals with wartime experience. Their canine counterparts have served in the military as well, and have even garnered recognition for their efforts. Click the link below to learn about the honors recently bestowed upon five U.S. military dogs.

Click the link below for more ways to support K-9 veterans and animal rescue shelters.

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