Military Cats

Instead of a cat-and-synth picture on this Memorial Day, we thought we would lead with a cat-and-tank pic:

[Photo by unclebumpy on Flickr. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).]

On a serious note, cats have a long history of military service. Many military cats served on board ships as mascots or working cats (i.e., helping control rodents) or both. Pooli served on board a US attack transport during World War II.

Pooli, a US navy ship cat from World War II
[Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

There is also Pfc Hammer, an Iraqi kitten adopted by American soldiers. Hammer served with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in Iraq and ultimately came to live in Denver with Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield.

military cat Pfc Hammer with Staff Sgt Bousfield
[Image via US Department of Defense website.]

Pets are often left behind by soldiers who deploy to wars, including the current war in Afghanistan. There are organizations, like Pets for Patriots in Hawaii, that help find foster homes to care for military pets during deployment. Here we see a cat named Fancy getting ready to go to a foster home while her military humans are away.

The US Army - Pets of Patriots
[By The U.S. Army (Pets of Patriots) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Finally, we encourage readers to visit our article on the Presidio Pet Cemetery here in San Francisco. We visited the site last Memorial Day.

Presidio Pet Cemetary

The dismantling of Doyle Drive is occurring right over the site at the moment so it is closed, but we hope to visit again soon.

The Presidio Pet Cemetery

Presidio Pet Cemetery sign with Hipstamatic

On this Memorial Day we pay a visit to Presidio Pet Cemetery. It is the final resting place of many beloved animal companions of the military families that lived in the San Francisco Presidio.

Presidio Pet Cemetery GI Pet

Most of the grave markers in the site date back to the 1950s when “the Presidio was home to over 2,000 military families.” It was surrounded by a white picket fence (which still exists today) and shaded by Monterey pines (which do not still exist). The site fell into disrepair in the 1970s and continued to deteriorate, but has been preserved. Today, it sits underneath the reconstructed Doyle Drive / Presidio Parkway that leads up to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Presidio Pet Cemetery and Doyle Drive

The construction on the Presidio Parkway is continuing around the site, indeed one large concrete beam sits inside the area of the cemetery. It is currently closed to visitors while the construction progresses, but it is quite visible from the nearby pathway. Indeed, it seems like it may in better shape now than it was preceding the construction, even if the vegetation is a bit overgrown in places.

Presidio Pet Cemetery GI Pet

Many of the markers are still clearly visible, and speak to the love and warmth these animals brought to their human companions on the base.   Some are very specific, some are more generic like “A G.I. Pet.  He did his time.”  but are touching nonetheless.  There are dogs, birds, hamsters, reptiles, and of course cats.

Presidio Pet cemetery cats

Presidio Pet Cemetery black cat

Thinking about the pets buried here and the bonds they had with their human companions helps one to feel empathy for both human and animal alike.  

I hope the site continues to be preserved and re-opens after the highway is completed.  I am sure I will be back here again.