Titanic's cat revealed at last


Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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As has happened in the past, a piece of the Titanic story has been hidden in plain sight for almost 97 years.

On 11 April, Francis Browne photographed two passengers taking a morning stroll on deck. The deck was still wet from overnight washing.

Un-notice until now, in the background was Titanic's cat, which had found a dry spot on a crane and was waiting for some sunshine.

Below is a detail from Browne's photo. I only hope the cat had the good sense to desert in Queenstown.

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Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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Nice try, Dave. If today's date had been 11 April I might have believed you.

I'm still smarting about being caught out a few years ago by a story about Captain Smith's monkey or was it a parrot?
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Mar 3, 2010
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I would of fell for it if the left ear had been blurred out, but it seems to be clearer than the rest of the body.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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This might be a good time to post this pic of the real cat. As far as I know it's never been published before.

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May 27, 2007
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I got a picture of Jenny's Kittens that were saved from the ship! Last time it was published was in the Daily Mirror in April Of 1912 under the headline "Clever Mother Cat Saves Her Kittens From Titanic!"
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Inger Sheil

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No, no - I'm sure that Dave just enhanced the ear for clarity, to bring out the detail in the image!
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Since I have inadvertently blown everyone's cover re April 1st ... Kilo was a real cat. He lived on HMS Belfast in the Thames until a couple of years ago. He was killed by being thrown into the Thames by a 14-year old girl ... for fun. One can't really understand this.
 

Dave Gittins

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OK. April Fools is over and it's time to come clean.

The photo I posted is exactly as taken by Francis Browne, except that I added just a few pixels to give the "cat" an ear.

I noticed the black object on the crane tears ago and I've taken my time over playing a prank with it. I've no idea what it really was.

You can see more of my old April Fools pranks at

http://users.senet.com.au/~gittins/Verse.html

See also the world's worst Titanic poem on the same page. That's perfectly genuine. Don't blame me if it makes you sick!
 

Dave Gittins

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The cat in the photo I posted was my April Fools joke, but according to two witnesses Titanic really did have a cat. Stewardess Violet Jessop said a cat and kittens were acquired from Olympic. She didn't say what happened to them.

According to a stoker called Joe Mulholland, the cat and her kittens left the ship in Southampton. Mulholland took the hint and left the ship too.
 

Bob Godfrey

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In Violet's case I think it might have been not the cats but rather her memories that were wandering from one ship to another.
 
May 27, 2007
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Wasn't there a News story about Jenny taking her Kittens off at Southampton? Perhaps Jenny was the Cat who was transferred from the Olympic and she didn't like the Titanic so she went back to the Olympic or another ship? Interesting theory if nothing else.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mulholland's story was reported in the press after he told it to an Irish journalist. From memory, I think it was in The Irish Times.

The story was online a few years ago, as part of an obituary for the journalist, Paddy Adams. Google and ye might find!
 

Dave Gittins

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Sorry,George, it was Paddy Scott. I couldn't find the full article either, but here's part of the story I saved long ago.

I happened to meet an elderly man who lived alone in a house in a street off the Old Lodge Road near Carlisle Circus. He was a stoker by trade, I think his name was Mulholland. He told me in his kitchen one day that he stoked the Titanic on her trials and on her way down the Irish Sea to Southampton."
In 1912 work was hard to come by in Belfast, Paddy Scott reminded me.
"He said he was waiting for a stoker's job on a tramp steamer that would bring him work for much of the year when he was offered the job on the Titanic.
"He took it and immediately made friends with a fellow stoker on board. On the way to Southampton his colleague urged him to complete the voyage to New York and as they got on well working together on the same furnace, the Belfast man told him he would keep an open mind but really he wanted a tramp steamer as that was big money for a long voyage.
"Then his mind was made up for him thanks to a cat which came aboard the ship in Belfast and made a home with the stokers.
"She had a litter of four kittens and looking after the mother cat and her brood broke the monotony for the stoker.
"But when the Titanic docked at Southampton the cat made a survey of the place, caught each kitten by the back of its neck and carried them, one at a time, down the gangway onto the quayside.
"The New Lodge stoker thought ~'that cat knows something and has decided that the Titanic is no place for her or her family to spend their lives.'
"So he took the advice the cat was giving and left the ship." Telling Paddy: "I had reason to give thanks to God for my decision."
 

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