Showing posts with label ships' cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ships' cats. Show all posts

Thursday 15 June 2023

Legend of Jenny the Titanic cat

This is an often-told story but it worth another short post by me, here! Jenny was a ship's cat who was transferred to the Titanic from her sister ship (identical ship as far as I know) the Olympic. Her role was to be a mouser and she lived in the bowels of the ship. She was also the ship's mascot.

She boarded in Belfast where the ships were constructed. The Titanic sailed from Belfast to Southampton where passengers alighted for the sailing across the Atlantic to New York for her maiden voyage which so famously ended in disaster when the ship struck an iceberg sinking the 'unsinkable' liner.

Legend of Jenny the Titanic cat
Legend of Jenny the Titanic cat. This is an image to illustrate the page. The cat is not Jenny. We don't have a picture of Jenny. The background picture is from Wikipedia published here under a CC license.

The legend says that Jenny gave birth to kittens on board before the ship set sail from Southampton. They were cared for by an engineer, Jim Mulholland. He was a stoker for the huge furnaces. These were steam-powered engines.

Stewardess Violet Jessop wrote that the cat "laid her family near Jim, the scullion, whose approval she always sought and who always gave her warm devotion" (Wikipedia)

It is said that Jenny sensed the impending disaster and took herself and her kittens off the ship at Southampton before the sailing.

Jim Mullholland in seeing this interpreted it as an omen and followed Jenny off the boat.

The legend plays into the perception that domestic cats have a sixth sense and can foretell disasters such as earthquakes. 

There is no science to support this. Cats may be able to pick up earth tremors or sounds which precede earthquakes which are outside the audible range of humans. This may allow them to 'predict' earthquakes but this skill if it exists is an entirely different kettle of fish to predicting the sinking of a passenger liner.

The alternative, more boring but perhaps more realistic story is that Jenny perished with the others, including cats and dogs onboard. Wikipedia does not mention the legend but by implication states that Jenny went down with the ship. The authors say that Jenny was the ship's mascot as well as a mouser.
There were many animals aboard the RMS Titanic during her disastrous maiden voyage, which ended with the ship sinking on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. They included dogs, cats, chickens, other birds and an unknown number of rats. Three of the twelve dogs on the Titanic survived; all other animals perished. - Wikipedia.

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