Lest We Forget: WW1 Poppy Day Military Cats

WW 1 cat in trenches-Remembrance Day

Nov.11 is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in Canada and the other commonwealth countries. Regardless of the name, it’s the day when we honor those who served their country. Nov. 11, 2018 marks the centenary of  World War I and the origin of wearing poppies of remembrance. The red poppies symbolize a bloody war with 18 million lives lost, not including the many animal employed from horses, donkeys, pigeons, dogs and even monkeys.


Hundreds of thousands of cats served in Europe providing much needed rodent control in less than hygienic conditions in the trenches. A feline’s acute sense of smell served as a “canary in a coalmine” to detect deadly mustard gas. These brave cats who could have easily escaped, choose to stay with their soldier companions offering solace and natural stress relief.


Most of these cats perished. There were no gas masks for them. As we pause to remember all those who fought for our country, let’s remember our feline friends.


Teresa Harrison-Best, one of my favorite pet poets from the U.K. wrote a poem honoring these heroic felines
Paws At The Ready

The cats of World War One had significant role in all the campaigns, we must honour their bravery too.

Give thought to all the kitties
who served in World War One.
A battalion of the finest
who never fired a gun.

What was their role?

Whether hunting rodents out at sea,
or loyal friends to men,
these many cats had vital roles,
time and time again.

The food was saved.

A common sight in trenches deep,
dispatching mice and rats,
the soldiers’ had a special bond
with many of these cats.

Many were treasured mascots.

Five hundred thousand cats were sent
to serve in the Great War.
Some detected mustard gas,
whilst others were off shore.

Some of the feline heroes.

Togo was the Dreadnought’s cat,
The Swan had their lad Ching.
Pincher was the Vinex’s mog,
it was luck they hoped they’d bring.

‘Martinpuich’ was aptly named,
by The 9th battalion chaps.
Pitouchi was the orphaned kit,
who’d survived on army scraps.

Spark Plug, Tabby and many more
were companions to the troops.
The feline unsung heroes,
those cats who became recruits.

We’ll never truly realise
just what these cats went through.
So spare a thought and give some thanks
for what they did for you!

Lest We Forget!

Teresa Harrison-Best

WW1 cat-Pitouchi

39 thoughts on “Lest We Forget: WW1 Poppy Day Military Cats”

  1. Wow, I had not realized how many ‘military’ cats there had been.
    I wore a poppy on my uniform that day, cause I had to be at my work, and it amazes me in a sad kind of way how many peeps had no idea why I wore that:(

    I thank all at work who are/were veterans…and my neighbour who currently is in the National Guard.

  2. We again say thank you to ALL that have served, do serve or will serve. Animal or human each one is a hero in our hearts. So many people do not understand the loyalty,dedication and love of cats but so many soldiers do.
    Love and gratitude to our military no matter the species, we own them everything.
    Thank you for sharing yet again about these unsung heroes!
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo & the Angels >^..^^..^<~

  3. Thank you for re-sharing this as I truly never knew the full extent of feline involvement. Cats really did have a major role to play in that most horrendous of wars, and yet so little is ever considered or told of the sacrifice they made to help humans. I hope we can set the record straight one day soon…. I unwittingly touched on this in my new novel, and now I know it is so I shall be able to speak with authority as what we did and the cost.
    Toodle pips and purrs

  4. Layla, thanks for this wonderful tribute to the cats who served and offered comfort/ companionship on both sides who fought during WWI. Central or allied powers didn’t matter to cats who helped the men who were called to fight. We remember all veterans who served in WWI including the animal and feline ones. Purrs

  5. It’s amazing to think how many animals were involved in WWI and in all conflicts since. Heroes – ALL. We are remembering all animals and humans who have worked to keep their country safe and free.

    Hugs, Teddy and Mom Pam

  6. Cheddar is very happy his ancestors helped the cause. I had no idea about that, but it makes sense. Sad, though. Cats are so wonderful, loving, cute and also excellent at several jobs, chiefly – mousing – but also others.

    Love all the photos of cats in uniform. Love cats. Period.

  7. We thank all who have served and continue to serve be they Feline, Canine, Equine ,Avian human or any other species. It is an honor to say thank you to all.

    PS this post didn’t come to our email.

    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo >^..^<

  8. doodz….de food serviss gurls familee haza list oh veterans & her gram paw had a shepard that served in WW II…all 4 yeerz…Pete wuz a “messenger” ♥♥♥

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