Image: Felicette, Jim Cooke
Apparently, naming Saturn's features is about like naming cats - seriously. NASA scientists have been naming the clumps in the planet's "F" ring after kittens. Names like Fluffy, Garfield, Whiskers, and Socks have emerged so far. Of course, these clumps of space debris have formal, scientific names, too. But none are as fun as their kitty names.
Perhaps it makes sense to the scientists to go with cat names. After all, one of the most famous animals to make the journey into space was a cat. In the early years of space exploration, countries had sent monkeys, mice, fruit flies, dogs, a chimp, and a frog into space. In 1963, the French decided to get in on the act and send into space the first (and to date, only) feline astronaut.
They prepared a cat named Felix to shoot 130 miles above the Algerian desert before returning to earth. On the day of his big debut, Felix went missing (just like a cat!). A lovely feline lady called Félicette saved the day by taking his place. She completed her mission and returned to earth successfully.
There must be a magical connection between cats and the solar system. Besides their success in the space exploration field, cats also wear names from the astrological, astronomical, and scientific communities.
Our cats can coerce us into giving them titbits of the best food, snuggles on the sofa, and a chance to pillow their heads on the laptop. You could say they've turned us into their servants. How did cats learn to bring humans to heel?
The popular stereotype of domestic pets says cats are aloof, remote, and arrogant creatures who tolerate humans as servants. But is it true?
Science says No.
You can read Kunkush's story in Kunkush: The True Story of a Refugee Cat by Marne Ventura. It's a heartwarming tale, and like many others, it makes us ask the question: How much do our pets remember?