tis SeptembARrrrr 19 ‘n ’tis International speak Like a scurvy pirate day
(Translation, in English – it’s September 19 and it’s International Talk Like a pirate day.)
The day created in 1995 by two good friends John Baur and Mark Summers who wanted to celebrated the Golden Age of Piracy. Or just have fun. They chose September 19th as it is the birthday of one of their wives (probably hoping that it would help them remember the date!)
Lots of fun and silliness, probably spiked with rum, will no doubt occur today. If you want to enter into the spirit of the day check out what is happening around the world. And to enter into the spirit fully, if you want to speak like a pirate, check out the Pirate Translator to be accurate in pirate speak.
So what does this have to do with cats?
Well, that is a good question.
Cats are the favored creature aboard sea going vessels, (and no doubt on pirate ships too). Since humans first ventured onto water the ‘ships cat’ has accompanied the sailors as efficient rodent control and a good luck talisman. Rats and mice, left unchecked on vessels, do enormous amounts of damage. As in really serious damage.
As on land grain stores are a running buffet for rodents. Food supplies for the crew can be eaten and destroyed rapidly, leaving the crew without the supplies necessary for long voyages. Food being carried as cargo for trade is equally at risk. Ropes, sails, woodwork are all appealing to rats. Clothing and bedding as enticing too. In modern days electrical wiring can be damaged. Rats also carry pests and disease, and traveling to foreign ports runs the risk of disease spreading rapidly from one port to another. So serious is this that the plague is believed to have been transmitted by rats fleas on sea going vessels to an unsuspecting population in foreign ports.
Ships had to have a cat. Beside being resident rodent control cats were believed to bring good luck to the crew, especially black cats. Many superstitions surround cats on ships, and in ports. Losing a cat overboard was believed to damn the ship to 7 years of bad luck. Polydactyl cats, cats with extra toes, were particularly desired as the extra toes were thought to make the cat more sure footed and able to balance easier during rough seas, making them extra lucky. They seem to be the cat of choice. Cats were believed to be able to protect ships from storms, possibly detecting changes in the atmosphere due to their sensitive ears. Similar to cat’s wild behavior during the full moon that many cat owners observe, or their fur standing on end before thunderstorms.
And of course the presence of a cat is calming and brings some domestic comfort to sailors who spend long periods away from home. The cat is not only a working creature but a quiet companion, sharing their world and reminds sailors of home and give warmth and comfort. Much like their role on land. Or in space.