Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ship's Cats of the Kalmar Nyckel.

I learned today that Timmynocky, the cover cat for Catzilla, died over the winter. I wondered why I didn't see him at the ship, but since he was a rover who was often gone on shore leave, I wasn't too surprised not to see him.

Meanwhile, Toolbox, the senior ship's cat, has retired. Toolbox is so named because she was born in a toolbox when the ship was under construction in 1997. She is elderly and has gone blind, so she is now retired ashore. She enjoys her heated bed very much. She had a retirement party last winter.

The ship has acquired a new grey kitten. She's a grey tuxedo and very active and intelligent, so she has the makings of a good ship's cat. She is currently living in the galley while she is acclimated to her new home. She is seven weeks old. Her name is 'Ditty,' like 'ditty bag.' (All the KN cats have nautical names.)

Next time I go to the ship, I'll take my camera and take pictures. I wish I'd had it today because we were bending on the mainsail and raising the main yard. However, I was on galley crew, so I was below for most of my time at the ship. I did march around the capstan to raise the yard, though.


  1. I found your blog while googling "Kalmar ships cats", hooray! My friends and I were on the way to Cape May yesterday and drove through Lewes. I had not checked Kalmar's schedule, but I told them to look out for the masts towering over the ferry port buildings, (if she was there). Hooray, she was, we stopped on the way home and got some great shots of her in the evening light. The Capt. was doing some sort of exercise with the crew (or volunteers), and we caught a glimpse of a ship's cat on the rail (by the sleeping dog, port side)... my buddy got a great cat shot, I got a great butt shot. Then one of the crew came down the plank with The Ship's Cat, a lovely longhaired (Angora-ish) "blue" cat with tuxedo markings, wearing a harness and a large ID tag. I'm guessing this is the Ditty you wrote about here. I noted that the only blue ship I know of (someone on Kalmar told me most ships were never painted blue, because that attracted blue water... your ship would sink... except the Dutch)... also has had exclusively "blue" cats (the blue-grey color is called blue in catfancy circles). As a Blue Cat Mom myself, I applaud the ships' cats. Ditty, if that was her, posed beautifully on the dock for us. Pics on my website:, also will send some to Kalmar's facebook page.

  2. In the Chesapeake Bay traditional boats are not painted blue because the Native Americans used to make sacrifices to the Spirit of the Chesapeake Bay by painting things blue and throwing them into the water. Thus the Spirit knows anything blue in the water belongs to him and he takes it. The Kalmar Nyckel is painted Swedish blue—that's the color of the Swedish navy then and now. The Kalmar Nyckel was built by the Dutch, but bought by the Swedes when she was only a couple of years old. She spent the rest of her life in Swedish service.

    Ditty is a boy kitty. Yes, he's the one you saw. The original ship's cat, Toolbox, is elderly, so she has retired ashore and likes her heated bed very much. Timmynocky passed away last winter due to complications of illness. Ditty is the new recruit and is adapting well to life at sea. He's a very intelligent kitty—he has figured the red dot of the laser pointer comes from the thing you're holding in your hand, and he attacks that, not the red spot on the floor.

  3. Just returned here to read the comments again. Oh, boy kitty. We had another Ditty sighting at Downrigging 2013. In dog-friendly Chestertown, we had seen Newfs and Shiba-Inus and Greyhounds and Labs and mutts, and ducks and geese and gulls but no cats. After a great sail and some on and off drizzle, we were waiting in line at the portapotti...

    "Hey look, a cat."

    I caught a glimpse of a big fluffy tail and a bigger luggage tag, then a grey shadow ghosting off under the landlocked sailboats in the marina. I looked up to see the magnificently uplit masts of Kalmar...

    Oh, hey, that was Ditty. I got no pics of the Dittycat, but did get some great shots of a rainbow over Kalmar's lion. (posted on Ditty's facebook).