The Internet, and the world at large, has become completely fascinated with cats. It doesn't matter the context; they can be doing absolutely nothing, they can be posing for a picture with a hilarious caption or they can be doing something "extraordinary" such as plinking around on a piano with their paws.
We at Cracked are fans of the last category, except our definition of extraordinary is less "piano player" and more "Bulletproof Monk." Like ...
In all sorts of sea vessels, it's not uncommon to have a ship's cat to catch any mice or rats that might be lurking on board. One such cat, a black-and-white patched male with an unknown name, was serving onboard the German warship Bismarck in May 1941.
One of these days, some crazy young sultan is going to build a yacht replica of this.
History buffs will know what happened next -- the Bismarck was sunk in battle May 27 on its first-ever mission, killing 95 percent of its crew. Among the survivors, however, was the ship's cat, who was found floating on a board somewhat relieved that his job of killing all the mice on the Bismarck had suddenly become incredibly easy. The cat was the only Bismarck survivor picked up by the HMS Cossack, a British destroyer. They took him onto the boat, named him Oscar and made him their ship's cat, but had they the time machine necessary to read this article, they probably would've drowned him like the Dutch lady in Lethal Weapon 2.
"Drowning the Dutch lady" sounds like it should be a euphemism.
Oscar served on the Cossack until October 1941, when a torpedo from a German submarine blew a giant ass hole in it. Another ship, the HMS Legion, tried to tow it to safety, but the weather was too rough, and the Legion had had a really long day and honestly just didn't fucking feel like it. The Cossack was left to sink, but Oscar was found on a raft of dead bodies he had woven together  and taken to Gibraltar. By now he had gained the new nickname "Unsinkable Sam," since "Neptune, God of the Sea" had already been taken.
Flying in the face of superstitious reason, Sam was transferred to another British Navy vessel, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, within a couple of weeks. In November of that same year, the Ark Royal was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. Nearly the entire crew, including an "angry but quite unharmed" Sam, was saved by the HMS Legion (the same vessel that had saved Sam from the Cossack) as well as the HMS Lightning. By this point everyone finally realized that this cat needed to stay the hell away from boats, and Sam was transferred to the governor's office in Gibraltar to be the official mouse catcher and storm conjurer.
Above: The Sea God equivalent of pissing in your loafers.
Sam never boarded another ship, but his career of destruction wasn't over yet. The two boats that saved the crew of the Ark Royal, the Legion and the Lightning, would both be attacked and sunk by the Germans within the next two years. With such a track record, we imagine that the Royal Navy started making regular sacrifices to Sam in exchange for letting its ships stay afloat.
Is that what's going on here?
On March 29, 1996, an old abandoned car dealership in Brooklyn inexplicably burst into flames. Firefighters rushed to the scene to combat the fire so it wouldn't spread to a building that actually mattered, and one of the firemen noticed a mother cat leaving the building, carrying a kitten in her jaws. She walked it over to a litter of four more, nudged each one and then passed out next to them.
Apparently the mother cat had been raising her litter of five kittens in the abandoned building when it caught fire, and she raced in to save them all. She could carry only one kitten at a time, however, which means she must have made the daring trip into a flaming building at least five times, which is about six more times than we would ever run into a blazing inferno regardless of who was trapped inside.
Not even Erik Estrada.
When she emerged for the fifth and final time, her ears were burnt, she was scorched on her feet and much of her hair had burned away. Nevertheless, she made sure all her kittens were OK before she lost consciousness. She had to nudge them all to make a head count because her eyes had swollen shut from the flames and intense heat. This means that for some portion of her flaming terror adventure, she couldn't even see where she was going.
The cat, who was later named Scarlett because of her red, flame-licked skin (and presumably also for her involvement in the slaying of Mr. Boddy), was rushed to a nearby shelter along with her five kittens, four of which survived. The kittens were adopted by two families, and Scarlett herself was adopted by a woman who allegedly "spoiled her rotten" out of respect and/or fear. She died of old age 12 years later, leaving behind a legacy of fearlessness, as well as the Scarlett Award for Animal Heroism. Given out by the North Shore Animal League America, this award recognizes all the heroes of the animal world that risk their lives to save others and make everyone else look bad by comparison.
Also, she has the eyes of Satan.
In 1981, Mehmet Tunc was a Turkish man who was in Germany as a guest worker, living on the island of Sylt with his family and their cat, Minosch. When it came time for their Soviet-approved holiday (earned by making 10,000 purchases at the local bread repository), the entire family headed back to Turkey for a couple of weeks, and for reasons unknown they thought that bringing the cat along on a lengthy confined car ride would be a good idea.
The only thing cats love more than prolonged car rides is being flicked in the face with droplets of water.
When they hit the Turkish border, the cat decided he'd had enough and darted off, getting lost in the crowd. The family looked for him but ultimately had to leave him behind, heading back to Germany without their beloved cat. Minosch was never seen again ... until about two months later, when he was found scratching at the door of the Tuncs' home in Sylt, Germany.
We weren't very sure how far Turkey was from Germany either, so here's a handy visual aid, courtesy of Google Maps, plotting the path from the Turkish border to Sylt:
Those of you good with geography will recognize the starting point "A" as the bottom of Europe and the ending point "B" as the fucking top of Europe, not including Norway and whatever other Eskimo lands are up there. The total journey was right around 1,500 miles, meaning that Minosch covered about 25 miles a day, or slightly less than a freaking marathon, for two months straight. And that's not all:
Sylt happens to be an island, and the only way you can get there is by boat or by train. So either Minosch swam, snuck onto a boat or hijacked a train to make his way back home.
Like this, with a cat.