B is For Basil and Bailey

Hi everyone! Today is brought to you by the letter B ( I admit, I have been watching Sesame Street). I have 2 books to tell you about today and Spooky is here to help.

DSCF0947 Both of these kitties have books and blogs.I wrote about Basil back in November when I was lucky enough to win his book. Here is the link to my review and buying information: https://15andmeowing.com/2015/11/basil-the-bionic-cat/

I also want to tell you about Bailey Boat Cat. I am on the board at The Museum of Maritime Pets and Bailey is our Ambassador at Sea. His book is perfect for children and adults, it is filled with wonderful photos of Bailey on his boat, Nocturne. I had no idea how many cats lived on boats until Bailey started conducting weekly interviews with several of these kitties. Bailey’s book can be purchased through the museum gift shop.

We are also joining Athena’s Caturday Art Blog Hop

this week. Keeping with our B theme we have Phoebe being petted by a baby. My great-niece is super cute, but I cropped her out because I think only parents should post photos of their kids. I did leave her adorable hand though. PhoebebandbabyCaturday Art

Guest Post From Cat Scout Felix

Happy Friday everyone! We are pleased to have Cat Scout Felix here today to tell us about another seacat. And speaking of seacats, many of you know that Felix’s Mom runs the Museum of Maritime Pets , I am now a proud board member.

33-Felix-Hat Hello, everyone!  We are very proud that Ellen has joined the Board of the Museum of Maritime Pets.  They’re getting ready to mount a travelling exhibit entitled, “Creature Comforts,” which will travel throughout the U.S. in 2016.  More into soon on the website www.museumofmaritimepets.org   Our mom has to confess that our Cat Scout duties sometimes conflict with her museum ones!!

Today I wanted to relay another heartwarming kitty rescue and human bravery story.  This one originated in 1899 in Liverpool, England.  Unfortunately, no illustrations of the humans or kitty exist, just one of the massive 3-masted commercial sailing ship Hawksdale which we are unable to reproduce here, due to technical problems with our scanner!  Registered in Liverpool, Hawksdale sailed to Hamburg Germany to pick up its cargo of 500 pianos, bound for Melbourne, Australia.

One of the ship’s crew was a 17-year old apprentice named Aubrey Chaplin, who was allowed to bring his pet cat Freddy on board for company and as a pest-controller.  Captain William Steele and the crew liked the kitty very much, and he was allowed the run of the ship, always bunking with his master at bedtime. Freddy was a marmalade, and you know how friendly they are!

A few days after leaving Hamburg, Hawksdale encountered gale-force winds, and she went off course, running aground between Margate and Clacton-on-Sea, on England’s East Coast on the North Sea.. The crew attempted to launch one of the ship’s three lifeboats, but it capsized and three crew members drowned.  A second lifeboat broke from its fastenings and disappeared.  The sails were torn to pieces, and the masts were in danger of collapsing.

The crew feared for their lives, but their distress signals were finally picked up by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution – equivalent to our Coast Guard).  The lifeboat crew approached as near as possible to the grounded ship, and after several attempts and many long arduous hours, Hawksdale‘s crew were all lifted to safety….except Aubrey, who realized at the last moment that he had forgotten his dear cat, still belowdecks.

Despite the urgings of the RNLI’s crew, Aubrey didn’t jump to safety, but he disappeared below to retrieve Freddy, who was asleep in his bunk.  Aubrey put him into a nearby sack, so he could not escape, and the two jumped to safety into one of the two waiting lifeboats.

Aubrey sustained a serious injury while jumping, and in the meantime, Freddy in his sack was nearly submerged in the water that had washed into the lifeboat.  His master had the presence of mind to “come to” and squeeze the water from the sack, holding it tightly for the nearly four hour (15 mile) trip back to shore at Clacton.  Aubrey didn’t know at that point whether Freddy was still alive, because there was no movement in the sack!

Twenty four crew were saved from Hawksdale, and Freddy was weak, but soon resuscitated with some warm milk.  He was taken in by Aubrey’s parents, never to set sail again.

Hawksdale‘s cargo was mostly salvaged by various tug and rescue boats, but the ship was a total loss.  Captain Steele lost his commission, but was later allowed back into service. In the meantime, young Aubrey chose to continue his maritime career, and he was given special leave from his new ship to travel to Dublin, Ireland, where the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries presented him with a silver medal from the Dublin Home for Starving and Forsaken Cats, in recognition of his bravery saving Freddy:

      “Presented to Mr. Aubrey F. Chaplin by Miss Alice M. Swifte, founder of the Dublin              Home for Starving and Forsaken Cats, in remembrance of his brave conduct in             saving the life of a cat, at the risk of his own, in time of shipwreck.”

The obverse of the Medal featured an engraving of a cat and his name, “Freddy.”

Thank you Felix for that amazing story.

Please stop by and visit Billy the Time Cat 

Rory Williams Forever

His Mom tried to rescue this poor feral .



Cat Scout Maggie’s Guest Post

Welcome Maggie of Cat Scouts ( and my Sammy’s special friend). Warning, this story may make you cry.

Hi, Maggie here again with you.  Today I would like to remember the great Antarctic explorer, Mrs. Chippy.  He is very famous, and was part of Ernest Shackleton’s third expedition to the Antarctic regions. He belonged to Henry “Chips” McNeish, the ship’s carpenter, who had also been on prior Antarctic voyages.Mrs. Chippy3. jpgMrs. Chippy was actually a male brown tabby who adored his master, and because he shadowed him all over the ship, the crew soon named him “Mrs Chippy.”  He endeared himself to the crew, and early in their fateful voyage, Chippy decided to jump out a porthole.  The watch officer turned the huge ship around and the crew were able to pick the cat up out of the icy waters.  He had been in the sea for about ten minutes, and most cats certainly would not have tolerated that situation!      Chippy4

Endurance was a noble ship built to withstand the rigors of icy weather and waters.  She left Britain for South America in August of 1914, around the time of the start of WWI. The ship stopped in Argentina to provision and obtain a team of sled dogs which would  be needed for the overland treks planned once the crew landed in Antarctica.  In Buenos Aires, a young British fellow stowed aboard the Endurance, thus making the number of human crew 29 souls.  Perce Blackborow  proved himself so likable and useful to Shackleton and the crew that he was appointed Steward, and he and Mrs. Chippy soon became fast friends.Mrs. Chippy2

This Frank Hurley photo is courtesy, Scott Polar Institute

The  expedition left Buenos Aires for South Georgia Island, and from there, set sail for the Antarctic continent.  Chippy made himself busy standing on the ship’s rail, harassing the dogs, who were kenneled on the main deck, and otherwise exploring every nook and cranny of the ship.  He proved himself to be very adept at catching rodents, so was much appreciated as a full crew member of the expedition.  He also kept his master’s bunk warm, pawticularly useful in the frigid temps!!

Chippy’s favorite place to hang out was the Galley, where Cook always shared a tasty morsel with him, or the Ward Room, where he could rub against everyone and get lots of pets in return.  Like most of our feline ancestors and contemporaries, Chippy did not see the necessity of keeping a journal, but rather, he lived in the moment.  Luckily for us cat historians, his story was re-created from the writings of Shackleton himself and his various crew, all of whom kept journals.  “Mrs.Chippy’s Last Expedition” was written by Caroline Alexander, and it’s told from Chippy’s point of view, but based on actual daily events that occurred throughout the voyage until the time of the amazing rescue expedition that followed the ship’s destruction.  This precious book, which you must read, has been re-issued several times.

The book is a wonderful account of daily life at sea, including the monotony and the adventures and mishaps.  Because the expedition was a scientific one, there were lots of bottled and packed samples of various things the explorers collected and thought important. Chippy loved exploring and occasionally knocking over a bottle or two, but he always escaped the wrath of the crew.

The Endurance did well for a little over a year, and then became gradually and increasingly subject to the pressure of the large ice floes that trapped her.  There was no open water for most of their voyage, so they had to push through the ice a little bit at a time.  Finally, the ship became crushed by the ice pressure, and she had to be abandoned.                                                                 Endurance

It was a huge undertaking to empty the contents of the entire ship, set up temporary quarters for the crew and the dogs, and maintain discipline, hope and physical fitness.  It was now the end of October, 1915.

Photo, Frank Hurley

Shackleton realized that his crew and mission were nearly doomed, so he ordered the crew to dispose of all of their unnecessary belongings.  To set an example, he discarded a Bible that had been given to him by the Queen, just tearing out a few important pages.  Frank Hurley, the ship’s photographer, had taken hundreds of pictures, and he now needed to choose which ones to keep.  In those days, photo “negatives” were made of glass, and they were large and bulky.  We are so glad that one of Hurley’s choices was the earlier photo above depicting Chippy on Blackborow’s shoulder -the lone picture of this fabulous kitty navigator that was saved!

Alexander’s book contains most of the surviving photographs, and they only add to the drama and sadness of this voyage.

Shackleton ordered that no body who couldn’t pull his weight or prove useful to the Expedition must be “put down.”

The sled dogs, after hauling many provisions and supplies over huge distances, were all shot.  It is surmised, but not confirmed, that Chippy was given a special treat of sardines for his last dinner, and he did not wake up after that meal.  Suffice it to say that most of the crew, but particularly Henry McNeish, were devastated by his loss.  McNeish later bore Shackleton a grudge because of the cat, and although he was an essential member of the rescue portion of the expedition (due to his carpentry skills), McNeish was not rewarded with commendations at the end of the expedition.

We won’t tell the amazing story here about Shackleton’s incredible 800 mile trek over mountains and icy waters to find the nearest post where he could get a rescue ship.  He did it and accomplished one of the most celebrated rescues in human history.  After many months, he and a skeleton crew who had braved that long land and sea journey returned to rescue the other crew members.  All were saved.  Many prior Arctic and Antarctic expeditions did not fare as well.

I like to think that Chippy’s spirit enabled the Endurance human crew to maintain hope and courage, even after Chippy was no longer there in purrson.

It is so sad, to me, and heartbreaking that in those days, animals weren’t held in as high esteem as they are today. The innocent sled dogs, many of whom died from parasites because Shackleton had forgotten to take worm medicine on the journey, were used for heavy work and then discarded as being a burden. Some of them were pregnant or were pups.

Mrs. Chippy, though very small, was also considered to be too risky to keep in the tents set up on moving ice floes.  Food and fuel were scarce toward the end of the voyage, so Shackleton decided that the animals would be too much trouble to take care of, and could possibly impede the human crew’s ability to survive and be mobile.

Henry McNeish grieved for his beloved cat for many years, and he later retired to New Zealand, although he was Scottish.  McNeish’s gravesite in Wellington was later enlarged to include a tribute to his fabulous companion and the ship’s mascot, Mrs. Chippy!mrschippy1

You can purchase Chippy’s book at the Museum of Maritime Pets website : http://museumofmaritimepets.org/store.html

Thank you Maggie. See you all tomorrow for lots of hopping.




Guest Post by Cat Scout Felix

Happy Friday everyone and Happy May 1st. I am sad to see the a-z challenge end- I wish there were more letters in the alphabet. We are lucky to have a guest post today from Cat Scout Felix.

33-Felix-Hat Greetings! Felix here again to share a wonderful story that combines kitty and maritime history!  Did you know that in Amsterdam, rescued stray cats are sheltered and cared for in several barges floating in the Singel Canal, in the center of the City?

The barges are a major tourist attraction, and are open part of each day to potential adopters and tourists who support the cause. The first barge was acquired in 1969 and named De Poezenboot (Pussycat Boat) by its owner and cat lover, Henriette van Weelde. She wanted to provide a home for orphaned and sick kitties in the city. At first, her rescues stayed in her home, but soon she had too many!

de-poezenbootIn 1971, Henriette purchased a second barge. Soon she acquired another barge and lots of volunteers started to offer their help.

   2014-02-20-13-53-04-690x690 catboat4-690x460
In 1987, the Stichting de Poezenboot (Pussycat Boat Foundation) was established to support the rescue, medical and caregiving activities of this only floating kitty shelter in The Netherlands. The barges are renovated and maintained for seaworthiness and cat comfort and amusement.  Veterinarians provide care at cost or on a voluntary basis.  Events are held throughout the year to publicize the Foundation and its inhabitants!

If you travel to Amsterdam, be sure to visit and make a donation to this worthy cause. It is estimated that the city has over 50,000 stray cats!  Check out their cool website, too!

www.depoezenboot.nl                                                                                             logo-de-poezenboot-gr





I’d also like to share with you a story that appeared earlier this week in the Smithsonian Institution’s on-line Magazine. It features more information about maritime pets!


Thank you for another great story Felix.

Please read our interview it will be available Friday morning at:


Thank you Funny Farmers- it was an honor to be interviewed by you.


Guest Post by Cat Scout Maggie

Maggie of Cat Scouts here. maggie

Our friend Sammy has invited us to share stories about some famous maritime cats with you. My story is about Trim, a fine Tuxedo cat who lived from 1799-1804.

This cat was beloved by his master, Captain Matthew Flinders, who wrote a journal about him while a prisoner on the island of Mauritius. Statues of Flinders and Trim stand in Sydney Harbor Australia, commemorating their navigational accomplishments.

Trim was born aboard HMS Reliance during her voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Botany Bay. He was a favorite of the officers and seamen on board, and learned many skills from them. In return, they showered him with good table fare and lots of attention and affection.

Trim loved climbing the rigging, playing on deck and assisting the crew with astronomical observations. He loved chasing little balls, and was a good swimmer, simply climbing a rope if he had the misfortune of falling overboard from time to time.

“He was endowed with an unusual degree of confidence and courage, and having never received anything but good from men, he believed all to be his friends, and he was a friend of all.” (from Flinder’s Journal)

Trim was interested in various branches of the sciences, including the natural history of “small quadrupeds, birds and flying fish, for which he had much taste.” ( from Flinder’s Journal)

While ashore, Trim was uncomfortable living in a house, but he loved stagecoach travel! He soon embarked again with his master, this time on HMS Investigator headed for the South Seas. There were several dogs aboard , but Trim was the master of them all. The voyage ended with a circumnavigation of Australia. The ship was in bad condition, so Trim and Flinders transferred to HMS Porpoise, only to be shipwrecked in 1803 before they reached England. The crew were rescued and most went to China to await a new ship. Trim and Flinders decided, however, to board the schooner Cumberland. They were forced to stop at Mauritius for repairs, but were promptly taken prisoners.

Flinders and Trim moved around the island, though under detention, but Trim disappeared in 1804 and was believed to have met a violent end. Flinders was heartbroken when his friend was not found, and during the remaining five years of his imprisonment, he wrote a journal to honor his “faithful intelligent Trim! The sorting, affectionate and useful companion of my voyages during four years .”


Thank you Maggie for such an excellent post- that should earn you your Scouts Journalism badge. If anyone wants to learn more about Trim, his book is available at the Museum of Maritime Pets gift shop: http://museumofmaritimepets.org/store.html

Guest Post: Museum of Maritime Pets

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today is ROAR Day and we are pleased to have our second guest post ever. As you know, my Sammy is a Cat Scout and our guest post was written by the Mom of 2 of his scout friends, Maggie and Felix. Her name is Patricia Sullivan and she is here to tell you about a place near and dear to her: bayeux2(King Harold depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry with his hunting dog and falcon) The Museum of Maritime Pets fosters an appreciation of animals living or working on or near the water, who collaborate with man in times of peace and war.  The Museum documents their contributions and promotes their safe and humane treatment. World-wide activities include art and historical research at libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, naval and maritime organizations, oceanographic and zoological institutions and aquaria. standeasyrcnavy (2)Stand Easy, Royal Canadian Navy, WWII Visual material from around the world illustrates animals at sea from earliest times to the present.  Artistic and photographic images of maritime pets at work, leisure or play reveal their interaction with their human caregivers, or exploring the world and water from their unique perspective.  Journals, diaries and other historic materials relate many endearing and courageous exploits of these pets.  We also get new information and photos via social media. Many of these brave animals provided companionship to sailors recovering from battle wounds or illness, and some gave their lives in service to their humans.  Others survived bombardment, sinking and other catastrophic war events, later to be rescued and live out comfortable lives on shore. Some pets are temporarily adopted by merchant seamen, only to be abandoned at the end of a voyage.  They often wander the docks, hoping to see their shipmates again. chabot cats (2)(Spinnaker and Molly Aboard) The Museum documents and celebrates the lives and exploits of these animals.  A travelling exhibit is available for loan, and the Museum Shop carries books about maritime pets as well as nautically-themed gifts and toys. Leo working hard to pull Mike in (2)[1]( Newfoundland Leo rescues swimmer) Visit our website http://www.museumofmaritimepets.org  and follow us on FB or Twitter @MaritimePetsMus JackieJRonboat3 (2)(Jackie, a happy Jack Russell aboard) Van cat (2)(Turkish Van Cat) I am going to make a donation to the museum. Even if you can’t make a donation , if you could please spread the word about this amazing resource it would be greatly appreciated. The gift shop has a lot of cool items like Bailey the Boat Cat’s book and some cute toys for kitties.