Thanks to the joy that is the #PetsOnShips hashtag on Twitter, one often sees photos of cute animals in a maritime setting. In my own research on the 19th century Royal Navy I’ve found mention of cats, dogs, and a surprising number of bears, all kept as pets on board British warships. All manner of other creatures, great and small, have been documented as going to sea (some, sadly, staying there!).
As far as the Royal Navy is concerned the end of pets on ships began on 4 May 1975, when all cats were ordered to be landed during a rabies epidemic sweeping Europe. Over continued health fears, in October 1977 the end came for the rest of the Fleet’s pets. Pictured is the Royal Navy’s last sea going dog, Muttley, apparently rated Ordinary Sea Dog.