The Tragic Story of Jenny, the Titanic Cat

The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic is widely regarded as one of the most tragic events of the 20th century. While the deaths of thousands of passengers and several animals, including dogs and chickens, have been extensively documented over the years, the story of Jenny, the ship’s cat, sadly remains a footnote in history.
Back in the day, ships used to keep cats as mousers. They also helped boost the morale of homesick sailors on long voyages. Jenny was one such cat who served as a mascot for the ship and also worked to keep the rats at bay. Not much is known about the feline, but in the years since the incident, various fascinating stories have emerged that add to her legend.
The cat’s early days on the Titanic
According to Catster, Jenny previously lived on the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic. After her transfer to the gargantuan ocean liner, the feline was busy controlling the rampant rodent population. Many survivors later reported rats were all around the ship, including the dining hall, causing panic among the passengers.
At night, Jenny slept beside a kitchen worker believed to have cared for her. Years later, Violet Jessop, an Argentine stewardess who survived the incident, wrote in her memoir that the cat “gave her warm devotion” to the man and always looked to grab his attention.
The sinking of the Titanic
On April 14, 1912, the ship struck an iceberg during its journey from Southampton to New York City. The giant ocean liner sank two hours and forty minutes later, leading to the deaths of more than 1,500 people.
According to History, less than an hour before the incident, a nearby ship had sent a message to the Titanic, warning of “a dense field ice.” However, a miscommunication prevented the radio operator from relaying the message to the captain. There were also reports that the so-called “unsinkable” ship was traveling too fast.
Many passengers who jumped into the ocean eventually froze to death. In truth, the exact number of people who died in the disaster still remains unknown.
While it was a combination of several factors causing the Titanic to sink, a major point of criticism was that the magnitude of the disaster could have been avoided. The ship only carried 20 lifeboats that could accommodate 1,178 people, which was significantly less than the total number of passengers onboard.
Jenny’s tragic fate
What happened to Jenny on that fateful day remains a mystery. As per Catster, the feline was pregnant when she arrived on the ship. She’d given birth to a litter of kittens aboard the ocean liner a few days before it embarked on its maiden voyage.
Since Jenny was the ship’s cat, she didn’t get the same treatment as the other pets aboard the Titanic, some of whom managed to survive after their owners smuggled them into lifeboats.
Years later, a popular rumor started floating around that a man saw the cat leave the Titanic with her kittens when the ocean liner docked at Southampton. The man considered this a bad omen and decided to stay back with the feline.
Sadly, though, most records seem to suggest Jenny died along with her kittens aboard the Titanic.
Other animals aboard the Titanic
While Jenny remains the only cat known to have died in the disaster, there were several other animals who perished. At least 12 dogs were on board, of whom only three survived. There were a variety of breeds traveling on the ocean liner, including an Airedale Terrier and a Great Dane.
Only first-class passengers could carry pets aboard. Most of them were kept in kennels while some stayed with their owners in their cabins. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), as the ocean liner started sinking, someone released the dogs from their kennels. Subsequently, the canines started running up and down the ship, causing more chaos and panic.
Two Pomeranians and a Pekingese survived after their owners managed to get them on lifeboats. According to Huffpost, J. Joseph Edgette, a Widener University historian, told Yahoo News, “The dogs that survived were so small that it’s doubtful anyone even realized they were being carried to the lifeboats.”
Apart from dogs, there were several chickens, rodents, and a canary who lost their lives in the tragedy. One of the survivors, Ella Holmes White, carried exotic roosters and hens imported from France, while another woman, Elizabeth Ramel Nye, had brought a yellow canary.

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