In 1912, the RMS Carpathia left New York City en route to Croatia, but had to abort the journey in order to rescue the survivors of the Titanic. The ship took on an extra 705 people and three dogs, then turned around and headed back to New York. Afterward, the Carpathia crew were treated as the heroes they were, with medals and honors. The public tributes came to be embarrassing for Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, such as the time he went to a theater for a variety show and was obliged to make a speech.
A week after the performance, just before the Carpathia set sail for London from the Curnard pier, Miss Grace Kemble and Miss Irene Claire—both chorus girls with the theater company—presented Captain Rostrand with big kisses and a tiny kitten. (Reportedly hundreds of unmarried women gave the captain a kiss, so the kitten made Grace and Irene stand out from the crowd.)
While the captain was basking in the attention, one jealous third mate reportedly lifted the kitten to inspect him for any white hairs or whiskers (the presence of even one white hair or whisker on an all-black cat was considered a bad omen to sailors.) Not finding a single white hair, the third mate heaved a sigh of relief and patted the new mascot on his arched back.
The captain assured the women that the kitten, who was later named Captain, would be provided with luxurious quarters in his cabin.