Out-of-this-world cat names.

July 03, 2018 2 min read

Image: Felicette, Jim Cooke

The naming of cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games the poet T.S. Eliot told us.

T.S. was right. Cats can be a challenge to name.

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.

 

Consider these celestial kitty names:

  • Andromeda - Our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda sits a mere 780 kiloparsecs or 2.5 million light-years from earth. The Greek word Andromeda means "leader of men," and the name is usually awarded to a female cat.
  • Draco - The Latin word for "serpent" or "dragon," Draco is also the name of the 8th largest constellation in the night sky. While it's an exotic name for a cat, this appellation can also call to mind the nefarious Draco Malfoy of Harry Potter fame.
  • Perseus - In Greek mythology, Perseus defeated Medusa and rescued Andromeda. His character was immortalized in the naming of a constellation in the northern sky.
  • Solstice - Few names conjure up a sense of wonder quite like Solstice, which simply refers to the date on which the sun reaches its northernmost and southernmost zeniths. Solstice can make a great name for a cat born in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer.
  • Umbra - In astronomy, this word refers to the darkest portion of a sunspot, but in literature, it can refer to any kind of darkness. Umbra makes a fine astronomical name for your jet black feline beauty.
Cats draw their names from natural sciences besides astronomy. As a cat lover, you could consider giving your kitty a moniker from science history like Newton, Galileo, Curie, or Darwin. What about Comet, Quantum, or Eclipse? The naming of cats is a difficult matter only because the natural world has given us too many wonderful ideas, people, and experiences to draw from. Apparently, it's the naming of space debris around Saturn that's getting to be a challenge. 
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