Strong Silent Type: A dog's unflinching loyalty is well known, but a cat's loyalty is less spoken of. Cat lovers attest to a cat's love and affection but claim a cat is less likely to show those emotions publicly. In other
words, they're the strong silent type, and keep things to themselves.
However, cats can spring into action when needed! Their bravery and selflessness inspire even their harshest critics.
Visit the Imprisoned: A cat named Trixie once stayed with his owner, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, for 2 years while the Earl was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Another cat named Jim once saved his human family after a fire had started in the house. The family was asleep and unaware of the fire. Rather than run out and leave the family, Jim ran upstairs and awoke them with his meowing. The family was able to escape unharmed. For his efforts Jim was awarded the Blue Cross Medal.
Church Cat: One of the most famous cat heros was Faith, who made a name herself during World War II. Whether she was abandoned or not is unknown, but Faith was living on the streets during the early days of the War. While looking for a place to live, she came upon St. Augustine's Church on Watling Street in London. She tried to enter the Church several times but was rebuked by the church's attendant. Faith finally evaded the attendant and took up residence in the Church. Eventually the pastor of the church, Father Henry Ross, discovered the cat and being a cat lover, adopted her as the official "church cat." She became well known by the congregation and a regular fixture at services, even resting by Father Ross's feet while he preached.
Risk Life and Limb: In 1940, Faith bore a kitten, which the congregation named Panda. The birth was a cause of great joy and the whole community celebrated the new addition. Faith and Panda were regular fixtures in the Church and well cared for, by both clergy, laity, and staff.
Eventually, with no discernible reason, Faith moved Panda down into the cold basement, and no amount of persuasion could bring her back up. The next night and for the days following London was besieged by an air raid and both the church and homes nearby were damaged, some destroyed. Nearly the whole church was in shambles but somehow Faith survived and even managed to save her Panda as well, staying with her kitten as the bombs blew and destroyed the Church. Her devotion and bravery became well known throughout London, inspiring many a person through the dark days of the war. Faith could not be awarded the Dickens Medal because she was a civilian pet. A special silver medal was made instead and presented to Faith by the Archbishop of Canterbury on October 12, 1945.
Cat soldiers: Although natural hunters with strong defensive instincts, cats are generally peaceful animals and usually of no use to humans in warfare. Unlike dogs and horses, they are difficult to train, monumentally disobedient, and remarkably independent. Some claim the U.S. Military tried to use cats during the Vietnam War, but the project was a disaster because the cats would either become distracted or slip into the jungle any chance they got (many claim the entire story is untrue). The Belgium Military tried using cats to deliver letters during war, but this, too, was a dismal failure. Cats are just not concerned with human affairs; lest of all their wars. But some cats have made names for themselves during war and became memorialized for their heroism and sacrifice.
Waving the White Flag: Cats were so revered in ancient Egypt, that if any were captured by Egyptian enemies whole armies were sent to rescue them. An Egyptian general once even surrendered his army to protect cats on a battlefield. The event occurred during a war with Persia. The Egyptians had been dominating the war when a Persian general came up with the idea of capturing cats and releasing them onto the battlefield. When the armies took the field and the Egyptian General saw the battlefield crowded with cats, he surrendered a whole city rather than harm the cats.
By land and by sea: The largest role cats have played in war has been onboard ship, where cats cleared ships of rodents. Sometimes, cats do serve roles other than rat-catchers. They sometimes work as therapy animals, providing sailors with a sense of security and calm.
The most famous cat of modern warfare was Simon, who sailed on the HMS Amethyst, a British Naval Vessel. Simon was smuggled along the ship by a young sailor and hidden in his living quarters. Eventually, the captain and crew became aware of the cat and made it the ship's unofficial mascot. For his part, Simon worked hard to clear the ship of its rodent population. He was known to lay his kills at the captain's feet.
In April of 1949, the ship had to sail up the Yangtze River in China to help another British vessel. On the way up the river, however, the Communists bombarded the ship and it was forced ashore. Simon was seriously wounded during the battle, with shrapnel in his legs and back. Remarkably, Simon was able to pull through the event, and eventually recovered. After assuming his old duties as rat-catcher, Simon added another job to his resume. He began visiting the wounded soldiers and did his best to cheer them up.
Eventually the ship made it out of the Yangtse River and into open waters. The Yangtze Incident became well known, and Simon became quite famous. He was awarded the Dickens Award - the animal award for bravery, marking the first and only time the award was presented to a cat.
Unsinkable Sam: Another well-known cat in modern warfare was Oscar, also known as Unsinkable Sam. Oscar was on three different ships that were all attacked and sunk, but remarkably Oscar survived each tragedy. The Bismarck, Cossack and Ark Royal were all torpedoed and sunk during World War II. Each time Oscar went down with the ship, but was rescued and went on to serve another day.
Another cat, named Andrew, was the mascot of the Allied Forces Mascot Club. Andrew's particular contribution was that he had a sort of sixth sense and could tell when a bomb was going to strike nearby. When Andrew went for cover, everyone around him knew to duck.
Many other cats served as mascots for different fighting forces. They helped both home and abroad, their calm nature soothing people during obviously stressful times.
Do Not Disturb: Dogs are gregarious and eager to please, but cats, on the other hand, are distant and methodical. As Mary Bly said, "Dogs come when they're called. Cats take a message and get back to you." Because cats are so patient, they often seem disinterested in the world around them. Or seem in no hurry to involve themselves in events that don't concern them.
But this reputation is not completely deserved. Cat have, at times, thrown themselves into the world around them. Its just that we haven't always noticed. When we do, we are struck by their bravery, devotion, and tenderness. Cats have performed all types of roles, some directly affecting the human population, and some do not.
Undercover Kitty: One cat, Fred, came to be known as Fred the Undercover Kitty because of the work he did as an undercover agent for the New City Police Department. A man named Stephen Vassell was posing as a veterinarian in New York City, but the authorities were having difficulty catching him in the act. So Fred stepped in to uncover the illegal operation. In February of 2006, Fred played a sick patient in a sting operation with his human partner Stephanie Green-Jones. Together they were able to expose Vassell and his illegal operation. He has since been charged with unauthorized veterinary practice, criminal mischief, injuring animals and petty larceny. Fred retired soon after the arrest and was trained as a therapy animal.
Cat Hero: In Long Island, an award is given annually called the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism. The award recognizes heroic animals that have sacrificed their own safety to help others, whether human or not. The award was named in honor of Scarlett, a stray cat who risked her own life to save her five kittens.
The cat family had been living in a house in New York when a fire broke out. While the Fire Department was extinguishing the fire, some noticed Scarlett entering the house and carrying out each of her five kittens. This was in spite of the fact that she had already suffered from the fire - her eyelids were blistered shut, her ears were burned, and her paws and coat singed. After Scarlett had gotten each kitten out of the building, she touched them all with her nose, making sure they were alive and safe. Scarlett was treated at a nearby Animal Shelter and is currently living in Long Island.
Beware of Cat: Not all cats, though, have been on the right side of the law. Lewis, a domestic shorthair from Fairfield, Connecticut, was placed under house arrest after being charged with attacking several members of the Fairfield community. Her owner was charged with reckless endangerment and sentenced to only 2 years probation, but only on the condition that Lewis be euthanized. The owner would not agree with the terms and fought the conviction, claiming residents in the community had tormented Lewis, once even attacking the cat with eggs. Eventually, the owner received 2 years probation and Lewis had to remain inside at all times, except when going to the vet. The case garnered quite a bit of public attention. Supposedly, some 500 "Save Lewis" tee-shirts have been sold to support the cat.