If you thought cats were just wimps who laid around all day, think again. These photos show how during World War I, they were often found in the trenches, on the ships and in the middle of the action doing their part to help soldiers protect our freedoms.

That part was largely to act as mousers, keeping any wandering rodent away from the troops vital stock of rations, but they also were also embraced as mascots and pets for many units. The feline friends gave the soldiers invaluable comfort while they performed their heroic duties.

And, of course, they were were also super adorable.

1.) A Canadian soldier with his unit’s mascot, Tabby.


2.) On the HMS Queen Elizabeth, this daring ship’s cat walked on the barrel of a 15-inch gun.

Bibliotheque nationale de France

3.) The mascot of the HMS Dreadnought, Togo.


4.) Company O’Connor Men pose for a portrait with their cat.

Australian War Memorial

5.) A couple of Scottish soldiers in the 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, with their pet cat, Martinpuich.


6.) The HMS Encounter’s ship cat.


7.) A gunner in a French trench with his regimental cat.


8.) This little guy was discovered in the ruins of Le Cateau-Cambrésis by officers of the U.S. 2nd Army Corps.

Pictorial Record of the 27th Division

9.) The mascot of the HMS Vindex, Pincher, sitting on the propeller of one of the sea planes carried by this ship.


10.) Mascot Spark Plug is probably giving his fellow soldier solid advice on the propeller.

Library of Congress

11.) Two cats cozying up in the breech of a 4-inch caliber gun on an American ship.

U.S. Naval Institute

12.) A mascot hanging out in with a soldier in a sandbagged dugout.

Australian War Memorial

13.) Soldier holding a kitten for his studio portrait.

Australian War Memorial

14.) Ching, the mascot of the Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Swan, shaking hands with a sailor.

Australian War Memorial

15.) A sailor from the HMAS Melbourne holding two ship’s cats.

Australian War Memorial

16.) A British soldier forming a pact with their mascot.

Illustrated War News

(via iO9,ViralNova.)

The feline tradition actually dates back even further, probably originating in ancient Egypt on their explorations. And you thought all they were good for were silly Internet videos.

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