Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pets on the Titanic - with New Contributor Peggy Wirgau

When the RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic in 1912, over 1500 lives were lost. In addition to the people who died, several animals also lost their lives.

Passengers had to pay roughly the price of a child’s ticket to bring their pet aboard. It’s believed the ship carried 12 dogs belonging to 1st and 2nd class passengers, and several roosters and hens, most likely owned by steerage passengers, planning their new lives on American farms. A few dogs stayed in their owners’ cabins and others stayed in kennels in the cargo areas, along with the chickens.

Crew Members with dogs aboard Titantic

One pet belonged to the crew: Jenny the cat, whose job was to keep rats and mice at bay. Jenny had given birth to a litter of kittens prior to the ship’s first voyage out of Southampton, England. She was seen carrying each kitten, one by one, off the ship and into the city. A crew member who witnessed it decided Jenny knew something and was protecting her family. He quit his post and left the ship before it sailed.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14th and began sinking, a crew member went below and opened the kennels so the dogs would have a chance to save themselves. But only three survived: a Pekinese belonging to Henry Sleeper Harper of Harper Publishing, and two Pomeranians. They were all taken onto the lifeboats by their owners. A story surfaced not long after the sinking that First Officer William Murdock’s black Newfoundland, Rigel, was seen swimming toward the rescue ship Carpathia and was adopted by the crew. That story was never proven true. Murdock perished in the disaster.

A dog show had been planned for the day of the sinking, which would have featured all the dogs on board. Also lost that day were the chickens. The fate of Jenny the cat is unclear, but we hope she remained in Southampton with her kittens and did not return to the ship.


  1. The Titanic never fails to fascinate. Very interesting thank you. I think Jenny was onto something.

  2. Interesting! Love stories like this.

  3. Interesting. I never thought about whether or not there were pets on board. Thank you for your post. Can't wait to read more of post.

  4. The Titanic is probably the most romantic disaster in history. I'd never thought about the animals. I've learned something new. Thanks for the post, Peggy.

  5. I love the story of Jenny and her prompting a crewman to get off the ship while he could. Thanks, Peggy.

  6. I love anything Titanic. Like every other American girl, I've always been fascinated by it. We went to the Titanic museum in Branson, which is really neat, and I learned about a few of the pets on board then, but I hadn't heard about Jenny the cat. How interesting! Thanks for sharing, Peggy!

    Amber Schamel
    Bringing HIStory to Life

  7. Thanks for the post! Like others have said, the Titanic is so fascinating!