I know sailors like cats. Cats catch rats and mice that eat rations, and sailors think cats bring luck anyway. (Of course they do.)
I did not know that the most celebrated ship's cat of modern times was Simon, of the HMS Amethyst. Born in Hong Kong in 1947, Simon was found in his dockyard home by Seaman George Hickinbottom of the Amethyst. The black and white cat looked in need of a better home, so Hickinbottom smuggled him on board. Turns out there was a pressing need for a ratcatcher among the crew, so Simon stayed. He became best buds with the ship's captain, and was wounded in an attack on the Amethyst by Communist forces in 1949. When a particularly large and heinous rat, nicknamed "Mao Tse-Tung" by the crew, tyrannized the ship, Simon did battle and came out the winner.
Simon died in 1949, safe on British ground, after a short but lionized life. You should read all about him here.