Animals have always played a role in the military. Whether they were around for specific training and missions, or just to be a pal to the troops while they were out on their mission, animals have lent a hand in some form or fashion to help our military men. Dogs weren’t the only animals who were capable of performing duties in the military; cats had jobs too, at times. They were often photographed with military personnel, even as far back as in the 1800’s, cats were seen on Navy ships, with the Air Force, and in barracks. Even in the brink of disaster, cats could relieve the stress and anxiety for our military men, just with a simple gesture of love and affection.
Here are 20 amazing photos of cats with the military and the stories to match.
20. Saipan, the mascot for the USS New Mexico
Saipan was a little cat who made his way onto the USS New Mexico, a Navy vessel that was used as a support ship during the invasion of the 1944 invasion of Saipan. It is believed that the little cat was rescued after the battle and brought on board. In this picture, Saipan is pictured laying on a little hammock that may have been created especially for the little guy. He is giving a look to the sailor that says he is wanting to be left alone so that he can get some much needed rest.
19. Miss Hap
Miss Hap is a tiny, two week old kitten that was rescued by Sargent Frank Praytor in Korea near bunker Hill after an attack. Praytor was a Marine Sargent and after a mortar attack killed Mis Hap’s mother, Sargent Praytor took her with him to nurse her until she was old enough to survive on her own. He is photographed here, feeding her canned milk with a dropper. The name Miss Hap was given to her due to her being born in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Pooli’ is the name given to this cat, pictured here, in her old military uniform. She was celebrating her 15th birthday at the time of the photograph and was being honored for her service as an attack transport during the World War II era. She received three service ribbons and four battle stars for her incredible service. The photo was taken in Los Angeles in 1959.
17. Kitty on French Naval Ship
The French sailors on this naval ship were waiting to take over six LSSLs (Landing Ship Support, Light) that the US was giving to them, which fell under the defense aid pact, and while they waited, they were photographed playing with cute little cat who was probably the ship’s mascot. The photo was taken in Seattle, WA in 1950. Cats were often found on naval ships from the different countries because they were beneficial to the men in many ways, including emotional support.
16. Cat found under tank at Betio Island
Even in the midst of battle, military men can put the fighting aside to show a little humanity. When this little cat crept out from under a Japanese tank on Betio Island, Tarawa, after some of the smoke had cleared from a battle, this U.S. Marine stopped to help. He offered it a drink of water and the cat was obviously very grateful. The incredible picture was captured in 1943.
15. Sailor with stowaway
It is not uncommon for a cat to be found on a naval ship. They are often strays that have been running around the docks and wind up finding their way onto a ship at port. Later, if they’re lucky, they are discovered by a Navy ship personnel and will end up being cared for and most often, the ship’s mascot. This pic is of a sailor who found this cute little stowaway and adopted it as the mascot. He got a free ride and a new job.
14. World War I soldier with kitty
Since war began, soldiers have been photographed with pets. They play a vital role during wartime. This is a picture from way back in World War I where a soldier found a kitten after a battle and he and a buddy were photographed holding it and reassuring it. Even during war, these guys take care of the helpless animals that are often affected by war, too.
13. Pilots play with cat in briefing room
These guys were waiting in the briefing room on a US Navy aircraft carrier. While they waited for instructions, they relaxed a bit and played with the ship’s cutest little mascot. The pilots were flying above the Atlantic on their battle mission shortly after the photo was taken and the mascot probably has no idea how much more relaxed and focused he made them just before they took off. It is thought that the photo was taken on the USS Ranger back in Jul of 1944.
12. Cat had kittens aboard naval ship
The mascot of the ORP Burza (Thunderstorm) was hiding something, the fact that she was pregnant. These sailors are thrilled to introduce her two offspring I’m this photo. Now the ship has three mascots and that means more furry fun to go around to the guys on the ship. She was probably already pregnant when the sailors brought her on board and made her their mascot, and no doubt, they were surprised.
11. Crewman use a mirror to play with their cat
On the USS Olympian, back in the late 1800’s these crewman were photographed playing with their ship’s mascot cat, using a mirror. They were very relaxed and having a little downtime, which is apparent by the fact that many were barefoot on deck. Cats served as a much needed pastime for men in the military, especially naval crewman when they did not get very many luxuries on board.
10. Soldier stops to save a kitten
This soldier is on one of his tours and during his duties, he came across a tiny, newborn kitten. He takes the time to stop and pick it up. Even military men have a heart and more than likely, if the mother was not found, this little guy got a ride back to camp and wads probably doted on by everyone.
9. These soldiers are out in the desert on tour.
Although the war they are involved in is listed, these soldiers were photographed playing with the kitten they found while on duty and brought it back to their base. The cat was going to have a new home and get lots of love and play with so many guys to dote on it and take care of it.
8. Crewman pose with mascots
These crewman of the USS Texas are seen posing with their two mascots, their dog and cat. The cat and dog are on the muzzle of one of the ship’s 12″/35 guns ca 1900. The ship had been built in 1892 and had earned a reputation of having bad luck due to a series of accidents it was involved in. It is said that the crew adopted two mascots in an effort to change the ship’s luck and stop the feeling of having been jinxed.
7. Soldiers feed cat with syringe
This little guy was rescued while these guys were out on a mission. Unable to turn away and leave it behind, they made him a part of their mission and brought him back to base with them to care for him. He is wrapped up comfortably in one of the soldier’s clothing items and being spoiled by the guys, getting hand fed milk from a dropper. He’ll have a good life now.
6. Cat relaxes in soldier’s lap
This soldier is sitting in a break room or other gathering place, with a mascot cat. This is when these military cats are happiest, when they are get the attention they love. They are never starved for attention in the military. There is always someone who is ready and willing to dote a little affection on these guys.
5. Soldier holding white cat
Soldiers have a great appreciation for life, human and animals. No matter where they are or what they are doing, they will try to help anyone, even those who are covered in fur. This Ukrainian soldier came across this little guy while out on duty and took the time to pick it up and bring it back to their base with him. The little kitty is now safe and will be well taken care of in his new home with these caring soldiers.
4. Cat napping in soldier’s lap
This kitty found a soft spot in the lap of a resting soldier. The soldier took a few minutes to let the cat hop in his lap for a little R&R and the soldier was happy to give it to him. Cat’s get a lot of attention from a wide variety of soldiers on base and out in the field when they are around and they get accustomed to so many different people loving on them.
3. Cats in Afghanistan
This soldier is on a tour to Afghanistan and while out on a mission, he found two cats, apparently siblings, and stopped to pick them up and play with them for a while. Many soldiers miss their own pets back home while on deployment, So to be able to pet a cat for a few minutes can be such a moral booster for them.
2. Soldier pets cat while resting
This soldier got a minute to sit down during one of his missions when a cat approached him from a home. The soldier is more than happy to give the little a guy a few minutes of attention and the cat is obviously very happy to accept his kindness. If a soldier has water or food on him, he’ll often share it with a local cat.
1. Soldier smiles holding cat mascot
It is apparent that a cat can make a soldier happy. There’s nothing more therapeutic than to get the love of an animal and cats in the military have a powerful effect on military personnel. This soldier is showering the cat mascot with some love and is loving every second of it, which is apparent by the look on his face as he holds the cat.