Felis the Cat: A Brief History of the Lost Kitty-Constellation
“Dear Chairman Meow, are there any domestic cat constellations in the sky?”
Thank you, Joanna R., Lansdale, Pa
Excellent question, Joanna, and you are in luck because Chairman Meow has infinite knowledge of all things. Allow Teacher Meow to fumigate his wisdom upon you.
In fact, there used to be a glorious constellation called, Felis the Cat, created as a tribute to the domestic kitty; later omitted from star atlases by arrogant and misguided astronomers.
Felis the Cat Constellation: Born in 1799
In 1799 French Astronomer and cat-lover Joseph Jerome de Lalande suggested adding a constellation that he named Felis the Cat. (not “Felix”)
He was quoted as saying, “There were already thirty-three animals in the sky; I added a thirty-fourth, the cat.”
Felis the Cat was soon broadly recognized, appearing in the highly-acclaimed Uranographia Sive Astrorum Descriptio star atlas of 1801 in the drawing shown below:
A devoted cat-servant, Lalande added, “I love cats very much. I will have this picture engraved on the star map.”
His Felis the Cat constellation was recognized for decades afterward, appearing in many notable star atlases of the 19th Century.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Omits Felis the Cat
In the early 20th Century, French astronomer Nicolas Camille Flammarion deemed Felis the Cat to be expendable, and along with a number of other significant constellations, Felis was omitted from the list of 88 constellations approved by the IAU in 1922.
Other notable constellations omitted by the IAU:
- Rangifer the Reindeer
- Bufo the Toad
- Hippocampus the Sea Horse
- Limax the Slug
- Manis the Pangolin
The pretentious humans of the IAU did, however, include three domestic dogs in their approved group including Canis Major & Canis Minor. (Although cat-family member, Leo the lion, did make the final cut)
The Curse of Felis the Cat?
Soon after this arrogant act, Nicolas Camille Flammarion would die (1924) and a bunch of terrible things would happen in human history including The Great Depression and World War II; all under a sky that didn’t include the protective constellation of Felis the Cat.
A Glorious Return of the Felis the Cat?
Honorable Leader Chairman Meow promises that when cats rule the world under his brilliant leadership, the constellation of Felis the Cat will once again be added to every history book and star atlas.
In fact, Chairman Meow will greatly enhance and enlarge the former position of Felis, and all but 9 stars visible in the Northern Hemisphere will be part of this new, kitty super-constellation. (The remaining 9 or so stars will comprise the constellation of a salmon, which Felis will be eating.)
In an image developed by Chairman Meow’s Ministry of Science, the new cat constellation will look something like this: