Ernest Shackleton personally killed the ship’s cat

Shackleton and Endurance

Shackleton and Endurance

Sir Ernest Shackleton (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a famous polar explorer. He led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He failed to become the first to reach the south pole. That honour went to Amundsen a Norwegian who used dogs in 1911. Shackleton was knighted for getting to within 112 miles of the south pole in 19092.

Shackleton returned to Antarctica to try and cross it from sea to sea via the pole (1914-1917). Unfortunately he lost his ship, Endurance, in pack ice. The ship was crushed. He appears to have been less successful and less heroic than we are led to believe.

Apparently, this icon of British heroism was an appalling commander1. Firstly he lost his ship, destroyed by the ice, as mentioned. He watched his ship “reduced to matchwood”1. For a captain to lose his ship this way was an embarrassment.

He then proceeded to personally “murder” the ship’s cat, Mrs Chippy, because there was not enough food for the cat and the sailors. Mrs Chippy was actually a tomcat.

Sailors don’t like the loss of the ship’s cats because it brings bad luck. It also has an effect on morale1.

Well, as far as I am concerned he is no hero to me, solely on the basis that he personally killed Mrs Chippy!

This is just a little snippet of cat history.

Associated: Cats in the Navy (by Elisa)


  1. Letters to the Times by Ralph lloyd-Jones 19th August 2013.
  2. Wikipedia
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Ernest Shackleton personally killed the ship’s cat — 8 Comments

  1. He was no hero to me either. Fancy killing Mrs Chippy, I hardly think what the poor cat ate would satisfy any sailor’s appetite!
    He probably did it out of spite and I’m glad he only lived 48 years himself.
    Being a ‘Sir’ doesn’t give anyone the privelege of a long life.

        • lol Marc yes he is ugly, by his mean face I should think he treated his sailors badly too as well as the poor cat.

      • Michael it turns out I can stop the automatic video but everytime a page loads it starts full volume. It’s an ad for Orange. I hate those shameless b**t*rds – they just make people hate them with automatically loading up sound on a web page – sadly I have my service with them. They don’t treat me well either. Its the ad on the right under the ‘subscribe’ function. I am viewing not in a browser but a reader – called net news reader, I prefer it for organizing subscriptions and posts.

  2. He was a nasty piece of work so I’m glad he missed his goal, I would like to knock his hat off with a big stick then beat him round the ears with it. Murderer!

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