Fightin' Felines and Other Civil War Cats


Sergeant Major
Aug 8, 2011
Gettysburg area

Two kittens with members of General Ulysses Grant’s staff at City Point.

Familiar companions of home and farm, cats were among the favorite pets of Civil War soldiers in Blue and Gray. Though they only rarely appear in photographs with their soldiers, many cats survive in soldiers' memoirs and other writings. Like dogs and other animals who were adopted as unit mascots or an individual man’s pet, cats helped to raise soldiers' and sailors’ morale by providing a cheerful diversion from the stress of campaigning and the boredom of camp or shipboard routine.


A cat (and a chicken) with sailors of the USS Lehigh.


The full image of the USS Lehigh’s crew.


The full image of General Grant’s staff at City Point.

Cats appear in accounts of combat and camp life, and they were mourned like comrades when lost in action or to other misfortune. It’s likely that when soldiers’ thoughts turned to loved ones at home, beloved pet cats accompanied family members in their memories, as they sometimes did in pictures.


A pensive young lady and a beloved feline friend.

Some anecdotes about Civil War cats shed an illuminating light on the humanity of famous people like General Robert E. Lee and President Abraham Lincoln, among others. Some treasured feline companions were honored in art, like Clara Barton’s Tommy and the apparently fictional Kitty Popcorn, whose sad tale must have been inspired by an actual bond between a soldier and his cat.


Sheet music to a sad ballad.

Cats appear in numerous threads on CivilWarTalk, as members ensure that the cats, like the soldiers and other era individuals they accompanied, will not be forgotten. Below are a few popular threads, but this list is not comprehensive. I look forward to adding new links as I find other existing threads.

This new thread can serve as a place where we can post new pictures and mentions of Civil War cats, and to add links to other past threads as we rediscover them. Please also continue to give cats new threads of their very own in the Four-Footed Friends forum and, if you like, to add their links to the list of Civil War cat sightings we’re building here. Thank you!

Among our threads are:

We All Need Somebody To Lean On; Furred, Feathered And Less Fluffy Love:

Robert E. Lee's Cats, Baxter, Tom "the Nipper" and Tom Tita:

Ship’s Cat finds his way Home:

Tom Cat, the Confederate Mascot:

Mules (and Cats) for Another War:

Mark Twain’s Cats:

Civil War Animals & Mascots:


“He is but an Old Gray Cat…” (not a war cat, a civilian cat):

Clara Barton, animal-lover:

Kitten at the Battle of GreenBrier:

Abraham Lincoln and 3 stray kittens:

Abraham Lincoln and his love of cats and other critters:

Cat lovers:

Seward’s menagerie:

President Lincoln and his love of animals and children:

Dogs and other animals, etc., at Gettysburg (other than horses):

USS Lehigh:

Trivia 1-31-18:

Shaffer: Civil War cat bewitches gunboat In Kinston:
Last edited:

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
Cats! Nice job @LoyaltyOfDogs , thank you! Dogs win in our house but the cat holds a place of honor. They're so delightfully indifferent to us, you have to work harder to get their approval. Mark Twain had a lot to say about cats.

Guessing we don't have as many Civil War cat sightings as dogs because how do you march off to war with one? Well and say ' sit ' or 'stay' to a cat and they'll laugh for 20 minutes.

cat 2.jpg




Sergeant Major
Aug 8, 2011
Gettysburg area


Retired User
Jan 23, 2010
State of Jefferson
OK, now I'm distracted by the chicken on Lehigh. Seems a foolhardy thing to do, making a pet of one when we all know how awful was the food, poor guy. Bet chickens as pets was a rarity.

I'm kind of thinking that chicken might be a money-making rooster! They still had cock fights on board ships. If he loses, he still covers himself in glory...and gravy... :chicken:

I'm curious - I've heard there was a Confederate regiment from the west, not sure if it was Missouri, who had as their mascot a bobcat! The men dearly loved him because he was untamable and always ready for a fight - just like them. Does anyone know this story? I'd love to hear it!