Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the cats of war

May 25, 2015 • 4:43 pm

Finally, for Memorial Day, Janis Row has written an article for PetPlace called “Honoring the cats of war.” Here’s just one of many stories:

In more recent times, cats and dogs have been banned from Naval vessels, but they are still valuable on land. In 2004, a tiny Egyptian Mau kitten wandered into U.S. Army headquarters in Iraq. Dubbed PFC [Private First Class] Hammer, he became a ratter, morale booster, and important stress reliever to the soldiers. When the battalion was set to ship back to Colorado, Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield contacted Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots for help in getting PFC Hammer back to the States. PFC Hammer was vetted and quarantined before traveling to Colorado Springs, where he took up permanent residence with Staff Sgt. Bousfield. When Hammer was being carried to Bousfield, he heard Rick’s voice and began purring and kneading the arm of the transporter. As it turns out, he remembered his Army buddy after all.

USA Today adds this:

When Bousfield found out his unit was leaving Iraq in March, he decided he couldn’t leave a member of his team behind.

“He has been through mortar attacks,” said Bousfield, a 19-year Army veteran. “He’d jump and get scared liked the rest of us. He is kind of like one of our own.”

Pfc. Hammer got his name from the unit that adopted him, Team Hammer. Soldiers would tuck Hammer in their body armor during artillery attacks, and in return, Hammer chased mice in the mess hall.

“He was a stress therapist,” Bousfield said. “The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries.”

The kitten earned his rank after nabbing five mice.

The U.S. Defense Department has a whole page on PFC Hammer, and here he is:


h/t: Larry

22 thoughts on “Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the cats of war

  1. I’d like to think that, if there were enough felines attached to all the military units of the world, the soldiers would be too busy waving pieces of string and rubbing bellies to go out and kill each other.


    1. Most curious…Google Translate says that exactly what you typed, with a lower case, “c,” translates as, “Yes, beware!” But with an upper case, “C,” it’s, “Take the cat!”

      Is this some sort of Latin pun?


      1. This is why you shouldn’t leave your Latin translations up to Google.

        It’s from the famous Roman “beware of dog” signs found at Pompeii – cave canem. Cave is the imperative singular caveo (to be afraid/beware – I am afraid/I beware).

        Fun Latin fact: Latin only capitalizes proper nouns so sentences don’t begin with a capital letter.

        1. Ah — thanks! Not just for the translation, but for the fact about Latin capitalization that I had absolutely no clue about.

          …reminds me. When did capitals — or, if I remember right, lower-case letters — first make their way into Latin and / or when did that capitalization rule get solidified? I seem to remember that inscriptions on buildings and the like are only written with capitals….


          1. Yeah for some reason it is all caps when on grave stones and other markers. I hate trying to read those things in Greek especially because they run the words together to cram in as many letters as possible in limited space.

        2. If I could figure out how to post a pic, I would attach one of my wife’s cat, Sasquatch, who has six toes and blue eyes. She takes pictures and portraits of cats and makes note cards of them. (Remember when people used to mail note cards?)

          I can recommend “Animals Make Us Human,” by Temple Grandin/Catherine Johnson. Also look up Mark Twain quotes about cats . . .

          My late dog, Elka (half German Shepard and half Norwegian Elk-Hound) was attacked twice (whilst minding her own business) by cats.

          And, see

          Since you are an expert in Latin, could you tell me the Latin for to cut, scrape, hack, and the meanings for “Cultus”?

      2. Oh, and I should add that I thought “beware of the cat” was a nice complement to “let slip the dogs of war” since Shakespeare is probably taking the concept from Plutarch.

  2. That’s a great story and a luck cat. I’m surprised the Exchange Service didn’t step in and help on this. Good work by the ACA.

  3. The British government has a cat in an offical government position. The current ‘Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office’ is Larry and his job is to catch mice. The longest serving Chief Mouser was Wilberforce: he caught mice from 1970 till 1988 and served under four prime ministers!

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