As you may recall, the Mayflower was the iconic English ship that sailed in 1620 bringing the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the New World. The Mayflower was about 80 to 90 feet long and carried about 135 crew and passengers.

So the question is were dogs and cats on the Mayflower?

According to Virginia Wells, writer for, “When the Mayflower reached America on December 21, 1620, the passengers numbered 102: 52 men, 18 women, 32 children – and probably several cats and dogs”.

The earliest mention of dogs appeared in a 17th century journal called “Mourt’s Relation” about the first years of life in the new world. According to this account, two dogs, an English springer spaniel and a mastiff were brought along by John Goodman, a young man of about 25 years of age. The dogs were involved in the first explorations of discovery on Cape Cod and the activities of homebuilding during the first winter ashore.

Cats were welcome aboard sailing ships in the 16thcentury because they helped control the rodent population and protected finite food supplies. They were so well known as sea-going voyagers that National Geographic once reported that “cats, like people, found freedom from persecution in America. It is believed that they first came over on the Mayflower, although it may have been earlier – with the Spaniards in the 16th century. In any event, once here, they thrived.”

So, this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for all the wonderful cats and dogs in our lives that add to the quality of our lives every day.