Cat Island’s unique T-shape is the result of colliding Gulf of Mexico currents. Cat Island is unusual among the barrier islands in that it is covered by dense forests of oak and pine trees. The island’s name is a reference to the raccoons that inhabit it; early French explorers mistook the local raccoons as feral cats.
During the 1800s, Cat Island became a hideout for pirates, bootleggers, and smugglers. In fact, a cove on the southern part of the island is still called Smugglers Cove.Up until the 1920s Cat Island was a large lumber producer and also supported the local hunting and fishing industry. During World War II, the U.S. Army trained approximately 400 military dogs that would go on to assist in guarding, mining, and scouting.