I am a seafurrer and come from a long line of cats who lived their lives on the high seas. I was named after Portuguese explorer and navigator Bartolomeu Dias de Novais. According to family history (not always reliable), our forebears were on board when he set sail from Lisbon “to seas unknown, remote and unexplored”, headed down the west coast of Africa and rounded the stormy southern tip of Africa (now called the Cape of Good Hope) revealing the possibility of a sea route to India’s spices (pepper in particular) well over 500 years ago.
The photograph shows a ship’s cat stretched out on a square knot carved on a column in the cloisters of Portugal’s Jeronimos Monastery that stands at the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour. It’s been suggested one of my ancestors was the model for this fine seafurrer.
Seafurrers is my blog for history lovers, cat lovers and trivia quiz afficionados, where each month I share true stories of the ships’ cats that lapped and mapped the world for hundreds of years as the seafarers’ pest controllers, shipmates, mascots and pets.
It’s not all about seafaring felines, I also like to share the stories of our shipmates – the countless pets and mascots (dogs, monkeys, pigs, parrots and more) who sailed with us seafurrers to “seas unknown, remote and unexplored.”
Of course, I could not have done this by myself and I wholeheartedly thank my collaborators: Philippa, Adam and Ky – my patient scribe, illustrator and designer.