In the wee hours of the morning between April 14th and April 15th 1912 the queen of the White Star Line, the unsinkable Titanic, did indeed sink into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland. Countless human and animal lives were lost, but what about Jenny, the Titanic cat?
As the story goes …
Jenny was brought aboard the Titanic from her sister ship, the Olympia, to act as mascot and to help with the rodent control. She lived in the underbelly of the ship (or the kitchen depending on which story you read) and was tended to by a stoker named Jim Mulholland. He would frequently sneak table scraps for her.
Work was difficult to find in those days and Jim Mulholland had been temporary help on the Titanic during the ship’s sailing trials from the Irish Sea to Southampton. When he was offered a full time position for the Titanic’s maiden voyage to New York he was thrilled to have the employment.
During those sailing trials, about a week before the Titanic moored in Southampton, Jenny presented Jim and the Titanic with a litter of kittens. Jim made Jenny a comfortable spot where she could tend to her kittens. Looking after the mama cat and her four kittens broke the monotony of Jim’s work. Jenny seemed content with her warm spot by the furnaces, her babies and her kitchen scraps from Jim.
However, as soon as the ship docked at Southampton Jenny had a good look at her surroundings and promptly started picking her kittens up by the scruff of their necks and moving them, one by one, down the gangplank and off the ship.
Jim watched her curiously and decided that this cat must know something that no one else knows!
He promptly packed his meagre belongings and departed the ship himself.
Truth or Titanic legend? Some other reports have Jenny and her kittens perishing with the Titanic, but the cat lover in me … I like Jim Mulholland’s story so I vote truth!
Years later the Irish Times ran Jenny’s story after a reporter spoke to an elderly man who related the tale. Was he Jim Mulholland himself or just someone with whom Jim shared his story? We may never know. A Daily Mirror edition from April of 1912 ran an article with the headline “Clever Mother Cat Saves Her Kittens from the Titanic” accompanied with the following picture. Is this Jenny’s litter? Again, we may never know.
Other folks have claimed to have pictures of Jenny – truth or legend? You have to decide for yourself.
One thing I am absolutely certain of … Jim Mulholland never regretted his decision to believe in Jenny’s intuition.