We all know about the roll and importance of canines in the military. They have their own program and training to get them ready to be in the field. Cats, on the other hand, have no such program or training. However, this has not stopped many felines from serving alongside our soldiers.
Cats have mainly served as mascots or "working cats," rat catchers, but some have gone above and beyond these stations. The cat Princess Papule, otherwise known as Poolie, was born in 1944 at the Navy yard in Pearl Harbor. The very day she was born she was taken aboard the USS Fremont, an attack transport ship. Serving on the ship in the Marianas, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, she then became a shellback when crossing the equator.
She almost didn't make it home when some sailors aboard the ship feared that she would cause them to be quarantined in San Francisco when heading home bound and thought about throwing her overboard. Luckily, other sailors organized an around the clock guard for her until the shipped docked several days later with no problems. At the end of her journey she had a uniform with three service ribbons and four battle stars.
More recently, in 2004 a cat named Pfc. Hammer, an Egyptian Mau, was made an honorary member of an army unit in Iraq. While facing the realization that their food would eventually be eaten or contaminated by a mice infestation, a small kitten wandered its way into their camp. He quickly became an excellent ratter and freed the soldiers of their worries. Pfc. Hammer wasn't just a ratter, he also served as a therapy animal. "'He was like our stress therapist over there," Bousfield recalled. "You'd come in off raids where we'd been kicking in doors and guys would be sitting outside by themselves. He'd come over and take their minds off the war."'
When the unit received notice that they were to head back to Fort Carson, they fought for Pfc. Hammer to come with them. A week later after the soldiers were back home, Hammer arrived and was reunited with his unit.
These are only a few of the many cats throughout history that have served in the military with our soldiers. These self-appointed troops are still touching the lives of our servicemen, even if they don't receive the credit or recognition that they deserve.