Like many creative ideas, Felis seems to have been the result of enthusiasm-- and possibly inebriation. French astronomer Jerome Lalande suggested Felis in a letter to his friend, German astronomer and celestial map-maker Johann Elert Bode, in 1799. According to John C. Barentine in The Lost Constellations: a History of Obsolete, Extinct, or Forgotten Star Lore (2015), Bode was a frequent recipient of Lalande's sometimes drunken missives. In his own book, Histoire abrégée de l’astronomie (1803), Lalande wrote:
Bode sent us from Berlin the series of beautiful and large maps representing the sky. The large number of stars I gave him gave me the right to form new constellations to fill the voids. There were already thirty-three animals in the sky; I put a thirty-fourth, the cat, on the occasion of the charming poem published by C.A. Guyot Desherbiers. This new constellation of the cat is between the Hydra and the compass. She has already been engraved in Germany and she is in the new celestial Atlas of Bode.
It's completely understandable that Lalande was inspired by the poem he referred to. It is pretty charming!
10% of the sale of this painting will be donated to Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society in Salisbury, MA. I adopted my first cat Kitzel from MRFRS back in 2002 and discovered in the process what an amazing organization it is. I've been a devoted supporter ever since.
If you'd like to learn more about MRFRS or donate, please visit their website.
MEOW! It’s our 25th anniversary!
Twenty-five years ago, a few caring souls decided to come to the aid of the 300+ free-roaming cats just surviving along the Newburyport waterfront. The effort they launched was one of the first in the nation to use Trap-Neuter-Return to improve the lives of free-roaming cats. Once the cats had been trapped and spayed/neutered, they were fed twice a day at waterfront feeding stations and monitored for illness, injury, and any new additions. Thanks to that incredible work, the final cat in the waterfront colonies, “Zorro,” passed away in 2009.
In 2017, we are proud that, through continued expansion of our efforts, the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society has now assisted over 114,000 cats—free-roaming and owned, sick and healthy, young and old—in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
Today, our organization has 18 staff, over 200 active volunteers and a line-up of effective and life-saving initiatives that benefit cats and the people who care for and about them. This year, we plan to celebrate our extraordinary past, and to look forward to our next 25 years.