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Trim the Sailor Cat

Updated on November 15, 2014
Sketch of Trim by Cpt Matthew Flinders
Sketch of Trim by Cpt Matthew Flinders | Source

The remarkable Trim, seafaring cat extraordinaire

Trim sailed around Australia in 1802 on the good ship Investigator, assisting his person, Matthew Flinders, to map the coast

With Flinders he circumnavigated Australia three times, sailed once completely round the globe, survived being shipwrecked, endured being marooned for two months, and was imprisoned as a spy.

Trim was an impressive cat, an exceptional cat, full of energy, agility and daring and he is a great Hero of mine.

Biography of a Sailor Cat

Trim was born aboard the Reliance in 1797.

From the very first month of his life, Trim developed a sure sense of balance and an indifference to the rolling motion and frequent dousings of sea water.

He very quickly learned to mount the gangway steps faster than any other member of the ship's crew and once, as a kitten, fell overboard.

This could have been the end of Trim but, showing early promise of his fighting spirit, he grabbed hold of a rope which was thrown for him and ran up it to the safety of the ship.

I hope I would be quick thinking enough to do the same!

Trim's circumnavigation ofAustralia - Old chart

In 1800 the Reliance sailed back to England via Cape Horn and St Helena, and Trim had completed his circumnavigation of the globe. 'Many and curious were the observations he made in various branches of science, wrote Flinders, particularly the natural history of small mammals, birds, and flying fish, for which he had much taste.

But Trim was uneasy in England, he was a true seafarer at heart, unused to a stationary home on solid ground with no far horizon or promise of distant shores.

So back to the South Seas he went, this time on the Investigator with his comrade captain. Back in his element, Trim made circumnavigations of Australia in each of 1801, 1802 and 1803, accompanied throughout by Matthew Flinders.

Matthew Flinders tells of Trim

In the Captain's Words from the Captain's Log

I can never speak of cats without a sentiment of regret for my poor Trim, the favourite of all our ship's company.

This good-natured purring animal was born on board His Majesty's ship the Roundabout in 1799 during a passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Botany Bay; and was consequently an Indian by birth.

The signs of superior intelligence which marked his infancy, procured for him an education beyond what is usually bestowed upon the individuals of his tribe; and being brought up amongst sailors, his manners acquired a peculiarity of can't which rendered them as different from those of other cats, as the actions of a fearless seaman are from those of a lounging, shame-faced ploughboy.

Peace be to his shade, and Honour to his memory.

[Isle of France, December 1809]

To the Memory of Trim

Best of Creatures

The best and most illustrious of his race

The most affectionate of friends,

faithful of servants,

and best of creatures

He made the tour of the globe, and a voyage to Australia,

which he circumnavigated, and was ever the

delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers........

Matthew Flinders

Trim the Astronomer

Trim took a fancy to nautical astronomy. When an officer took lunar observations, he would place himself by the time-keeper, and earnestly consider the motion of the hands and listen carefully to the ticking.

He would frequently experiment with a musket ball tied at the end of a piece of twine, making it whirl round the deck, probably because of the resemblance to the movement of the moon in her orbit around the primary.

Trim the Research Scientist

He was equally fond of making experiments upon projectile forces and the power of gravity.

If a ball were thrown gently along the deck he would pursue it and, when the gravitating principle combined with friction overcame the impelling power, he would give the ball a fresh impetus, generally to turn its direction into an elliptic curve.

At other times the form of the earth was the object of his experiments, and his ball was made to describe an oblate spheroid.

Shipwrecked!

But the worst was yet to come ...

In 1803 Trim and his companions were shipwrecked 170 km south-west of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland and marooned for two long and difficult months.

In his inimitable style, Trim helped to entertain the men and keep their spirits up until rescue arrived.

After being rescued the voyagers had to put in for repairs at the then French island of Mauritius, but they had been out of touch with world events, and England and France were now at war.

Trim and Flinders were accused of spying and thrown into prison!.

A Tragic End

In the stew-pot?

After only a fortnight, Trim disappeared.

Although a reward of 10 Spanish dollars was offered for his safe return, the gallant cat was never seen again.

Flinders was heartbroken. Poor Trim was effectually lost, he wrote, and it is but too probable that this excellent unsuspecting animal was stewed and eaten by some hungry slave.

Thus perished my faithful intelligent Trim! The sporting, affectionate, and useful companion of my voyages.

Vale, Trim

A Statue to Trim

During his many sea voyages with Flinders, this remarkable black and white cat took an interest in the practical aspects of the running of the ship, from hoisting the sails to navigating by the stars.

Trim paid close attention to the officers at their navigation, studiously applied himself to his favourite science of natural history and was always first for dinner in the gunroom waiting, not at the table, but on it.

Statue of Trim by sculptor John Cornwell in front of the Mitchell Library, New South Wales.

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Cats Sailed with Ancient Egyptians

Trim is just one representative of a long line of seafaring cats.

Back when the Egyptians took their boats up and down the Nile, cats went with them. These semi-divine animals traveled on Phoenician cargo ships across to Europe about 3,000 years ago and you can see for yourself how far we have journeyed since then.

These ancestors of mine were valued for their ability to adapt to new surroundings, control vermin and most importantly, for their companionship. It's for our companionship that you appreciate us most today. (Of course we can still keep your barns free of vermin.)

Dragon Harald Fairhair, the largest Viking ship built in modern times.
Dragon Harald Fairhair, the largest Viking ship built in modern times. | Source

Cats and Sailors are Firm Friends

Sailors have a special and unbroken bond with us.

Our ability to get rid of rodents is just one characteristic that made us respected crew members on any vessel. These vermin could seriously damage the ship's supplies, Believe me, the last thing that sailors needed was the food stock destroyed.

Sailors also saw us as good luck charms. They thought we could start storms with magic stored in our tails, this is because we will always lash them when a storm is approaching. As you doubtless know, we can detect the slightest change in the weather, and low atmospheric pressure, a warning of storms, makes us nervous and restless.

You can see this in your own cat companion, although on land this is not a signal to batten down the hatches, but to bring the washing inside.

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    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      What an amazing cat! As are you all, of course. Blessed by a feline-adoring Squid angel :-)

    • profile image

      Oosquid 7 years ago

      An astounding story of an amazing cat. What an enjoyable lens. 5 stars,favorited and stumbled.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 7 years ago

      Vladi, I am sure that someday there will be a magnificent tale about you as well.

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      Valdi, that was a wonderful story. No one knows if Trim fell into evil hands - I like to think not. 5*s

    • profile image

      jwooten80 8 years ago

      Thanks for leaving such great comments on my lens about my cats! I think Vladi is WONDERFUL and so creative! From one cat lover to another, thanks! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Another superb job, Vlad!

    • nekoneko profile image

      nekoneko 8 years ago

      I like ur cat story!

    • profile image

      MyChildCreatesowner 8 years ago

      What a wonderful, interesting captivating story. I really enjoyed reading the info with great pictures too. Keep up the great lens making ... your doing a terrific job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      "What a beautiful pussy, you are, you are" and what a great writer. Please don't tell her I said it but I suspect you may turn out to be an even better writer than the woman who lives by the creek ;)

      What a great and original rendition of the Story of Pussycat Trim and what a fabulous addition to the Animals and Nature category. Blessings to you!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      A wonderful tribute to another cat hero 5*

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      So, Vlad, does this mean you'll soon be setting sail? Perhaps you need a sailor's cap then. Be sure to post a photo when you get one. I've enjoyed this lens very much. You are a most informative feline!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Very fun...I'm really enjoying all of the cool cat stuff you are finding to write about Vladi...you are a very talented kitty!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      This is terrific. :) Blessed!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      I love your cat lenses! They are so much fun! And one question keeps popping up in my head: Where do you find them??? :) Have to confirm Jimmie's: Blessed!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I love this! An adventuring cat! How brilliant! Blessed!