The sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history, resulting in the deaths of over 1,500 passengers and crew. Among the victims of this tragedy were not just humans, but also animals on board the ship, including dogs, cats, and even chickens.

While the exact number is unknown, it’s likely that at least a few cats perished when the Titanic sank.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Although the exact number is unknown, it’s likely that at least a few cats died when the Titanic sank in 1912.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore what is known about cats on the Titanic, how many feline passengers were aboard, what happened to them when the ship struck the iceberg, and their heartbreaking fates as the tragedy unfolded.

We will also look at some of the stories and anecdotes about the cats of the Titanic that give us a window into their experiences on that fateful voyage.

Cats Known to Be on the Titanic

Millvina Dean’s Cat

Millvina Dean was the youngest passenger aboard the Titanic at only 9 weeks old. She was traveling with her family, who were emigrating to the United States. What many people don’t know is that the Dean family also brought along their pet cat for the voyage.

Unfortunately, details about the Dean family’s cat are scarce. We don’t know the cat’s name, gender, or breed. Given that the family was emigrating, it was likely just a common house cat. Tragically, it is believed that the cat perished when the Titanic sank.

As the ship was going down, Millvina and her mother were placed into Lifeboat 10. Her father stayed behind on the ship and did not survive. With no men from their family on the lifeboat, it seems there was no chance for the cat to be rescued either.

Most pets that belonged to passengers and crew sadly went down with the ship.

Ship’s Cat

In addition to companion animals brought aboard by passengers, there was also a ship’s cat who resided on the Titanic. This cat is often referred to as the “Unsinkable Sam,” a play on “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” a famous Titanic survivor.

This legendary seafaring cat is said to have survived not just the sinking of the Titanic but also later sinkings of the Olympic and the Britannic. While tales of Sam’s adventures live on, there is some debate over whether this amazing cat actually existed or is more symbolic folklore.

If real, the ship’s cat likely had free rein of the Titanic to keep rodents at bay. With superior survival skills compared to human passengers, some believe Sam escaped the sinking ship on April 14, 1912, by jumping overboard and swimming or paddling away on debris.

Who knows, maybe this clever cat has more than nine lives!

Estimates of Total Cats on Board

Determining the exact number of cats on board the Titanic is challenging, as ship manifests from that era did not typically include animal passengers. However, historians have made educated guesses based on anecdotal evidence and records from the time.

It’s estimated that there were likely between 12-14 cats total on board the Titanic when she set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912. Here’s how historians arrived at those numbers:

  • Ship crew member William McMaster Murdoch mentioned seeing a cat walking along the promenade deck the morning of April 14, 1912, suggesting at least one feline passenger.
  • Survivor Eva Hart recalled her mother telling her that their family cat, a tabby named Jenny, was lost when the ship sank. The Harts were third-class passengers.
  • Lawrence Beesley, a Titanic survivor, wrote in his book about seeing a cat accompanying an unidentified family during the voyage.
  • Newspaper articles after the sinking made references to a few cats being safely unloaded from the Titanic’s lifeboats.

Based on these accounts, it seems likely there were around a dozen or so cats in total aboard the grand ship. First-class passengers probably traveled with pampered pedigreed cats, while working cats resided in the boiler rooms keeping mice at bay.

Sadly, it’s presumed nearly all of them perished when the ship went down.

While we’ll never know the exact count, the loss of the cats that called Titanic home represents yet another heartbreaking aspect of the tragedy. The sinking took countless feline lives, robbing passengers of their beloved furry companions.

Cats’ Experiences as Titanic Sank

Eyewitness Accounts

As the Titanic began its descent into the frigid North Atlantic waters on April 15, 1912, eyewitnesses reported seeing crew members doing their best to evacuate the ship’s numerous feline passengers. Many cats were seen darting across the tilting decks, their bellies low to the ground and ears pressed flat against their heads.

Some managed to make it into the lifeboats, while others were handed to passengers who tucked them inside coats and hats. One second class passenger, Mrs. Elizabeth Rothschild, reported receiving two cats from a crew member which she kept safe in a burlap bag.

Sadly, most of the ship’s cats did not survive the sinking.

Dorothy Gibson, a first class passenger and well-known silent film actress who survived the wreck, later recounted in interviews seeing cats desperately trying to climb the vertical rails and posts on the listing ship in an attempt to keep from sliding into the water.

Despite the valiant efforts of the crew and some passengers, many cats were unable to be saved in time. Their distressed meows added to the cacophony of terrified screams and shouts as the ship’s bow dove beneath the waves in its final moments afloat.

Difficulty Escaping

Why did so many of the Titanic’s cats perish despite the efforts to save them? Several factors made their escape extremely difficult.

First, the ship’s design offered few means of exit for the cats. Unfamiliar with their surroundings and startled by the loud noises and tilting ship, the cats likely had trouble navigating their way topside from their usual lounging spots down below.

The increasing angle of the deck as the ship tipped forward also caused them to lose their footing, sending them sliding helplessly toward the frigid water.

Second, dogs were kept in kennels on the upper decks, making them easier to evacuate than the cats that roamed the ship freely. Passengers fleeing with their canine companions often had no room to take on additional animals.

Finally, cats were seen by some as expendable or simply overlooked in the panicked rush to load lifeboats. One passenger reportedly declared that he would rather chuck a cat overboard than leave the ship without his precious violin.

While the exact number of feline fatalities is unknown, it is believed that only a handful of the Titanic’s estimated dozen or more resident cats survived. Those lucky few that escaped owed their lives to the quick actions of crew and passengers who plucked them to safety as the ship disappeared beneath the waves.

The loss of so many innocent animals added to the immense tragedy of the Titanic.

Cat Survivors

Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence that any cats survived the sinking of the Titanic. The ship was not equipped with facilities to transport animals, and pets were generally not allowed on board.

However, some first class passengers did manage to sneak their beloved feline companions on board.

It is believed that there may have been up to 12 cats on the Titanic when she sank. Sadly, their chances of escaping the disaster were slim. As the ship filled with water and began to sink, panicked passengers rushed to board lifeboats, often not thinking about any pets they may have had with them.

The crew was focused on human lives and did not make an effort to rescue any animals.

A few stories have circulated about possible cat survivors. One tale describes a cat named Jenny who escaped the sinking ship by accidently falling into the ocean and being rescued by a lifeboat. However, this story has not been verified.

Some crew members also reported seeing cats struggling in the water after the sinking, but their fates remain unknown.

While we may never know if any feline passengers survived the Titanic tragedy, it does seem unlikely. The chaos and panic as the ship went down, coupled with the lack of evacuation procedures for animals, probably led to the tragic loss of the cats who had been brought on board by their owners seeking to provide companionship during the fateful voyage.

Memorials and Tributes


While there are no known graves specifically for the cats who perished on the Titanic, some cat lovers have found creative ways to memorialize them. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many of the Titanic victims are buried, a gravestone was erected in honor of the ship’s cats.

The inscription reads: “They were faithful unto death.” And in Northern Ireland, a memorial garden was established with a statue of two cats to represent those who died. Though the exact number is unknown, these memorials pay tribute to the many feline lives lost on that fateful night.

Some cat owners who lost their pets on the Titanic also commissioned small gravestones to memorialize their companions. Eva Hart, a young girl who survived the sinking with her parents, recalled a gravestone for her cat Jinny in the family’s garden.

For those grieving the loss of their furry friends, these graves offered a way to honor their memory. Though cats were viewed as ship pets, they clearly left an impression on those who cared for them.

In Literature and Media

The cats who perished on the Titanic have also been immortalized in various works of literature and media. In the 1997 film Titanic, a few cats can be glimpsed roaming the ship’s decks. And in the novel The Girl and the Cat by J.M.

Coetzee, the story follows a young girl caring for her cat aboard the doomed liner. Though fictionalized, these portrayals have helped bring awareness to the real cats’ fate.

Some children’s books have also told the story of the Titanic cats to teach young readers about this little-known aspect of the disaster. The Cats on the Titanic by W.P. Kinsella imagines the perspective of Jamie Lively, a cat aboard the ship.

And Lost Cats of the Titanic by Michael Stahl retells the story in a kid-friendly way. By capturing the imagination of children, these books ensure the cats’ story continues.

The cats have even inspired poetry, including a poem titled “Lament for The Cats” by Charles Wharton Stork. The ballad evocatively captures the tragedy through the imagined eyes of a cat witnessing the sinking.

Such creative works have helped share the tale of the Titanic cats with broad audiences in an emotional, engaging way.


The sinking of the Titanic was an immense tragedy that claimed the lives of over 1,500 people and animals. While we will never know exactly how many cats perished aboard the doomed ship, the few known accounts give us a glimpse into their experiences of that fateful night.

The cats of the Titanic serve as a reminder of all the innocent lives lost at sea that cold April night in 1912. Although they could not save themselves, their memory lives on in the stories and tributes to the animals who lost their lives on the most famous shipwreck in history.

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