Unfortunately, many people haven’t heard of the first cat in space, who flew 100 miles above the earth in a CNES rocket (France’s version of our NASA) back in 1963. To tell the truth, I wasn’t aware of Félicette’s contribution either until I learned that Matthew Serge Guy, a creative director from London, was raising funds to give this cool kitty a proper memorial statue. He learned about Félicette when he came across a tea towel commemorating the 50th anniversary of Félicette’s space flight.
Matthew did some research, learned Félicette’s story and how she has been basically forgotten (many references to her use the wrong name or the wrong photo). He didn’t feel that was right, so he did something about it, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to create a memorial. The campaign lasted from October to November of 2017. Matthew raised the funds, thanks to more than 1,000 backers. Now for the hard part.
Acclaimed animal sculptor Gill Parker has agreed to create the statue. “But,” says Matthew, “securing a location comes first, as we have to design it with the specifications of a confirmed plot of land in mind.” As of publication, he’s trying to get permission to place the statue somewhere in Paris, Félicette’s hometown.
Matthew’s affinity for cats started with a street cat that he and two housemates adopted when they were going to school. Although he doesn’t currently have a cat, he and his girlfriend plan on adopting two of them in the future when they’ve safely finished remodeling the fixer-upper flat they bought.
As far as the memorial, you can still take part. “Although the funding period has ended on Kickstarter,” says Matthew, “several people have reached out asking to purchase the rewards we created for it; this’ll then go into the fund to create the statue.” He says if Catster readers want to donate to the cause by purchasing one of the campaign rewards (go to Félicette’s Kickstarter campaign to see them), you can just email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Look for updates to the project on the Félicette Kickstarter page, too.)
So what’s next for this friend of Félicette? “A-ha,” Matthew replies. “Well, it’s hard to think past this project at the moment!”
Thumbnail: Illustration by Deborah Lucke.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
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