The World’s Favorite Feline Fighters

Simona Georgieva, In-Depth Writer


Everyone knows of all the heroic tales of soldiers fighting for America, but what about those who work behind the scenes? As shocking as it may be, there were more than just humans enlisted in the military. From mouse-chasers to entertainers, cats played an essential role on the front lines. 


What is the role of cats in the military?

Cats had a critical job in the U.S. Armed Forces. By catching rodents, they helped to keep food rations safe. Also, with fewer rats, diseases were minimized. Cats provided emotional support to the soldiers as well. These keen kitties mostly worked on navy ships, where food and supplies were limited. Cats could use their sharp eyesight to detect light if there ever was an emergency. Many sailors believed that having a cat on board would protect them and bring luck as well. 


Herman the Cat

Herman the cat was commissioned by the military in 1943, at only eight months old. His occupation was an “Expert Mouser”. When enlisted, he was given an ID, just like any other, which included his paw print and a photo of him. Herman was allowed access to every part of the ship to complete his job of exterminating any rodent on board. This role was quite common. Many cats were aboard ships for this purpose. In the article Herman the Cat Slayed Foes Aboard U.S. Coast Guard Ships, Dr. Eva Maria Geigl, a paleogeneticist, said, “With humans, the rodents went on the ships and the cats followed. So, there was not a single ship, probably, that went out of the port without cats”.


Pooli the Cat

Pooli, a ship’s cat who served aboard a United States attack transport during World War II celebrates her 15th birthday, 1959

Pooli, also known as Princess Papule, was a soldier cat from the beginning. She was born in the Navy yard in Pearl Harbor on one of America’s most prized days, the Fourth of July. She worked on the USS Fremont and witnessed a number of attacks. The ship battled in the Marinas, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and the Palau group, as described in the article 8 Brave Cats Who Served The Armed Forces. Pooli almost faced a terrible fate of being thrown overboard, but the sailors on the ship managed to find a solution. Instead, they had a guard on Pooli at all times. Overall, Pooli’s bravery and reliability helped keep Fremont safe, earning her four battle stars and three service ribbons.



Peebles the Cat

Lieutenant Commander R H Palmer OBE, RNVR plays with Peebles, the ship’s cat, on board HMS WESTERN ISLES, Tobermory, Mull.

Peebles was aboard the HMS Western Isles and was enlisted during World War II. This ship was used as a headquarters for the Royal Navy’s battle school. During his time on the ship, his main job was to hunt mice, but Peebles did much more than that. Peebles had the ability to perform many tricks as a form of entertainment. He shook hands and jumped through the hoops of humans’ arms, as depicted in the image above. Ultimately, Peebles’ intelligence helped to not only keep the ship clean, but also to amuse the soldiers and bring a light-hearted atmosphere.