Monday, October 11, 2021

The Lost Colony's Cats

photo by Friends of Felines-Cape Hatteras Island
The long journey from England was coming to an end as the sight of land had brought excitement to the crew and passengers of men, women, and children. Slowly the ship navigated the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic  Ocean, to the brackish sound waters that hid the island of destination.

What is now Roanoke Island had no name at the time. But as the weary people sat foot on the sandy shores of the island, Governor White declared the land, "Virginia" in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen that graciously allowed their journey. 

This was a new world with new beginnings. Sir Walter Raleigh had sent an all-male colony before this one to start the development of the first English Colony. Houses had been build and the dream of the Colony was within sight.

Arriving with the second group of Colonist was two Natives to the island, Manteo and Wanchese. Manteo and Wanchese had gone to England when the first all-male colony was left on the island. Manteo and Wanchese gave valuable insight into native island life to the English. In return, Manteo and Wanchese learned much about the English civilization. 

There was one animal that Manteo and Wanchese had not seen before that was to accompany them back to their island home. This animal was the European Cat. The English Cats brought to America during colonization would turn into what is today called the American Shorthair Cat.

The ships that laid anchor alongside the island arrived with more passengers than when they originally set sail. These extra passengers were actually kittens that had been born at sea aboard the ships. 

Cats were highly valuable to the crew of ships at sea. The European Cats were known for their ability to protect not only the grain and food supplies from rodents but the most valuable assets of the ship the Ropes. In addition to being security guards of the prized possessions of the ship, the Cats were wonderful animal companions to all on board. 

Having extra kittens and having the food supplies moved on land, it was only natural to bring some of the Cats and Kittens to the island to complete the journey with the Colony. 

So what happened to the Cats and Kittens that made the long journey to the New World? Well, just like the Lost Colony itself, that remains a mystery.

                  Dare Greene       also see:  "Have the Lost Colony Cats been found?"


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