Pam’s Pictorama Phot Post: I am a real sucker for a cat photo with a story, and so I went all out to get this unusual postcard. It appears to be a memorial card for the Loss of the ‘Gladiator’ – no date, not postally used. In case you can’t enlarge the image enough to read it, the typed article at the bottom reads as follows: Cat Found Alive. The only living thing found on board was the ship’s cat, Mickey – a black and white animal. Mickey was found in the men’s quarters rushing wildly about, mad with fear. The man who rescued Mickey was a stranger to him, and could not possibly calm the animal’s feelings. One of the crew of the Gladiator was fetched and the cat immediately recognized him and nestled lovingly in his big arms. The sailor then carried Mickey ashore, where he was received with great jubilation. Additionally the following is etched into the negative, Loss of the ‘Gladiator’ CRIBR. (?) This Bluejacket is seen with Mickey dressed in borrowed artilleryman’s clothes
Some quick research turns up the story. The British cruiser was rammed by an American liner, the St. Paul, in a snowstorm on April 25 of 1908 off the Isle of Wright. The Gladiator quickly sank – the St. Paul was damaged, but less so. Several lives from the Gladiator were lost, however the article in the New York Times archive mostly notes and praises the men for having awaited rescue in parade formation. No mention of Mickey is made in the Times article. I have included two images here of the ship and the accident – both are being sold on Amazon as historic prints. They are of interest, but I will stick with Mickey I think.
Cats on board ships are a major category unto themselves. I can’t say I thoroughly embrace these stories because more often then not these fine furry fellows seem to come to a bad end. Life on a ship for a cat seems to be cheap – although a bit rough on the humans too I guess and most of the cats, like Mickey, often seem to be much beloved by sailors. (Perhaps the high life of fish eating and vermin chasing may somewhat compensate for this?) However, Mickey, a fine looking tuxedo, seems to have kicked in with a few of those nine lives and made it out of this one alive and well.