Abstract: Numerous cats were also loaded onto military ships. Both soldiers and sailors regarded their presence as a good omen, a sort of four-legged talisman that was able to protect humans. It was usual for soldiers to take their cats with them, for example during the long ocean crossings that brought the Australian armies to Europe. And many cats were also adopted in foreign countries, along the front where battles were being fought. It is estimated that during the conflict there were around 500,000 cats in the trenches and on the warships. Their official task was to hunt mice and stop infestations of other vermin or parasites, although they were actually used to detect toxic gases. However, these military duties did not exclude they were adopted as mascots or as pets, and as such, they helped keep the soldiers’ morale high. Looking after the animals, which gave a semblance of normality, had the advantage of distracting the soldiers from the everyday aspects of war, which would otherwise have been unbearable.
Gatti al fronte, detective e talismani
Durante la Prima guerra mondiale furono circa 500.000 i gatti presenti al fronte, nelle trincee e sulle navi di guerra.
Il loro compito ufficiale era quello di dare la caccia ai topi, benché alcuni fossero utilizzati per rilevare i gas venefici. I doveri militari non ne esclusero la possibilità di essere adottati in qualità di mascotte e animali di compagnia.
I soldati e i marinai, infatti, consideravano la loro presenza e vicinanza di buon auspicio, una sorta di porta fortuna a quattro zampe in grado di proteggere gli umani. Era consuetudine per i militari portare con loro i gatti, ad esempio nelle lunghe traversate oceaniche che condussero le armate australiane in Europa. E tanti furono i gatti adottati nei paesi stranieri, lungo i fronti dove si trovarono a combattere.