My interpretation of the information that I have indicates that there was one adult female cat on the Titanic together with her litter of kittens. We don’t know the size of the litter. This information is according to Charles Pellegrino in his 2012 book Farwell Titanic Her Final Legacy. The cat’s name was Jenny and she was the ship’s cat. There were 12 dogs, three of whom survived because their owners carried them to the lifeboats. There were also chickens and birds plus the obligatory ship’s rats.
Jenny the ship’s cat was a mascot and a working cat in helping to keep down the rodent population. She was transferred from Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, and she gave birth to a litter of kittens a week before Titanic sailed from Southampton.
Jenny lived in the galley (the cooking area) where the ‘victualling’ staff (employees whose job was to provide food and other services) fed her with kitchen scraps. It was the era before commercially prepared cat food and so all domestic cats at that time were feed human scraps. I wonder if there was an obesity epidemic then and if kidney failure was so prevalent? Unbalanced kitchens scraps without any supplements might have been as healthy as factory made pet foods today. I digress.
Jenny made friends with a stewardess, Violet Jessop, and a scullion, Jim. She wrote that Jenny “laid her family near Jim, the scullion, whose approval she always sought and who always gave her warm devotion”. The ‘scullion’ was given the more menial tasks. This implies that Jenny’s kittens were also onboard. I don’t know for sure but it strongly implies it.
ASSOCIATED: Thai Navy rescue cats from sinking ship.
Jim was at the bottom of the tree in terms of his employee status but at the top in terms of animal welfare it seems.
It must have been quite a decent life for a ship’s cat on such a large vessel. One of the first full-time indoor cats if you want to describe her that way.
She went down with the ship although there is speculation that she made it off carrying her kittens on one website. It seems to be a very tenuous thought. Those last moments must have been terrifying. I wonder if Jim and Violet went down with Jenny by their side. Some say Jim made it off but this is anedotal.
One of the dogs that went down with the ship was a French bulldog, which is a particularly popular breed today in the UK. The French bulldog that died on the Titanic cost £13,393 by 2015 prices (£150 as at 1912). The dog was a pedigree champion owned by Robert Daniel. Covid-19 dramatically pushed up the prices of French bulldogs in the UK but not to those levels!
There are no photos of Jenny. May she rest in peace.
SOME MORE ON CATS IN EMERGENCIES: