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This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jimmy the Cat: Mascot of the HMS Renown

Cats in History

Some cats get around more than others, and Jimmy the cat, a fluffy, light-colored fellow who lived during World War I, had experiences on land and sea that most of us can’t imagine.

Jimmy “transfers” from land to sea

Jimmy the cat. Georgina Shaw Baker.
This pastel drawing of Jimmy was done by Georgina Shaw Baker.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwhich, London. [CC BY-NC-SA].

We’re not sure where he started life, but Jimmy and his person, an Australian whose name is unknown, spent time together in the war’s trenches until the person was wounded and sent to London. Jimmy went along with him, and while the two were at Victoria Station, a fortuitous meeting took place. Jimmy’s person happened to meet a Royal Navy cook named F. Conway, who was interested in the cat. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to keep the cat with him (we’re not totally sure why, but we suspect something like a “no cats in the hospital” rule was to blame), the Australian turned Jimmy over to Conway.

Wounded in the Battle of Jutland

At that time, Conway was assigned to the HMS King George V, and he took Jimmy aboard with him. The King George V was a dreadnought battleship that was part of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and spent most of the war patrolling the North Sea. On May 31, 1916, the ship took part in the Battle of Jutland, in which the Royal Navy attempted to destroy Germany’s High Seas Fleet.

Unfortunately, Jimmy was on deck during the fight, and his left ear was hit by shrapnel when a shell exploded near him. We don’t know any cats who would stay outside in the noise of a naval battle, but that’s what Jimmy did. Afterward, he needed a few weeks for his ear to heal, but then he went right back up on deck.

Clearly, Jimmy was born to be a Royal Navy cat.

Transfer to HMS Renown

When Conway was sent to be a cook on the newly launched battlecruiser HMS Renown, Jimmy went along. We know a little more about his life on that ship, which also patrolled the North Sea but was not in any battles. Jimmy became the ship’s mascot, beloved by the crew. He was a social cat and liked to hang around with the crew, especially when there was any sort of sport going on.

HMS Renown ca. 1918
HMS Renown (1916), photographed ca. 1918.
Official US Navy photograph. Public domain.

The cat still spent much of his time with Conway, though, and could often be found in the galley, where he could sometimes score a bit of food. He also slept with Conway, waking him at six every morning.

Jimmy the Cat postcard by Dumb Friends League.
The Dumb Friends League created
this postcard of Jimmy.

Jimmy’s retirement

That ear injury still gave Jimmy trouble, though, and so when Conway left the Renown on leave in 1917, he took the cat along. Jimmy’s sea career was at an end, as Conway left him in Chelsea with the Dumb Friends League. The cat then got involved in fund-raising for the league and became quite well known. He also got regular visits from his former shipmates.

Jimmy died in 1924 and was reportedly mourned by many. Truly, his was a life well lived.


Bulanda, Susan. 2014. Soldiers in Fur and Feathers: The Animals That Served in World War—Allied Forces. Crawford, CO: Alpine Publications.

“HMS King George V (1911).” 2018 (last edited). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_King_George_V_(1911)

“HMS Renown (1916).” 2018 (last edited). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Renown_(1916)


  1. Wow, what a great story! Jimmy certainly had one exciting life, what a social and brave soul he was!

  2. Here was a true lion of the sea.

  3. What a great story! We're going to share.

  4. guyz....what a total lee awesum storee !!!! thanx for sharin two day; we N joyed reedin thiz ~~~~~~ ☺☺♥♥

  5. What a pawsome story! I just got a book on seafaring kitties...I bet Jimmy is in it!

  6. Very interesting. I am sending this link to my friend who owns the museum of maritime pets. I can't remember reading about this one before.

  7. What a great story! Queen Penelope posted about Jimmy the Cat a zillion years ago (on The Cat From Hell).He had quite the life! I'm not sure I could handle all the excitement!