Was totally delighted to come across a diary entry from Mrs. Emma Barker, wife of the well known early Canterbury doctor and photographer, Dr. A.C. Barker (pictured), while she was aboard the Charlotte Jane.
I have always known of the belief that cats were bad luck to have on a ship so I was surprised by the following:
“ We are greatly teased with cockroaches as long as your finger but our cats keep ours off.” After their kitten was lost overboard, they had to “lock up poor puss who bears her wretched fate very well considering”. And later, “Poor old puss survives in her cage looking hopefully at us when we notice her.” In Christchurch some months later Dr Barker writes “I have been obliged to get a horse and 2 cows. These, together with my terrier and poor old puss, who keeps purring around me and reminding me of old times, form [sic] all my live stock excepting my hens, three only having survived the voyage.”
I had never in my life imagined cats on the first four ships!!!! What a thought!!!!
It is believed that the Egyptians were the first to take cats to sea – for companionship, pest control and also were considered good luck!