While poor old Cecil the Lion caused World headlines as he met his end at the hands of a lion-hunting dentist from Minnesota, the rest of us can only try to help our feline friends. Your correspondent’s wife (she who must be obeyed*), who likes to give a good home to poor dumb animals (in addition to her husband), was actually looking for a new pair of cats. We have had to say sad farewells to our previous two moggy housemates during the past year: the lovable idler, Lucky, (well, two mice in two years is hardly a high work rate), and the loudly meowing phone call interrupter, Pookie (Thelma), both of whom have now gone to the great cat heaven hunting ground in the sky.
In our search for a replacement pair, we decided to try to be kind souls by rehoming abandoned ones from a cat sanctuary. It was at this point that one cat jumped out at your correspondent from those on display at the website of the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in Old Windsor: a 10-year-old strangely marked cat called Alfie. And you can see why this space cadet had to choose Alfie. For apart from his kind and gentle nature…he has a plan view of the Space Shuttle orbiter on his face! It was almost as if it was ordained.
And the space connection does not end there, Alfie also comes with a tabby friend called Yoda as a cat pair. This was also taken as a good sign given that your correspondent looks like a Star Wars character: the very rotund Jabba the Hutt (although, sadly, without a gold bikini-clad Princess Leia in attendance).
Of course, this writer has a Jabba physique because he has trouble with “cake retention”. Although now, it seems that he has been eating rocket fuel all along. Scientists at Cambridge University have been using cakes, or rather buns, from the Fitzbillies bakery in Cambridge, as the fuel element in an experimental rocket engine. The buns were frozen in combination with nitric oxide, with the sugar and fat in the buns burning with oxygen to create the thrust. For amusement, the scientists have attached the rocket engine to a college punt boat and it works (see here).
Mind you, cake is so “last year” as a rocket fuel. For the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin et al, methane is now the rocket fuel du jour and, as your correspondent’s wife would sadly attest, he has no trouble with the retention of that.
Post Script: Since posting this story, a friendly reader has suggested that we should get the spacecats Alfie and Yoda one of these as a cat bed.
*Apologies to Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer.