Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, fear that worldwide radio communication networks will soon be overwhelmed by interference caused by orbiting Jellicle cat carcasses.
The E-Region of the ionosphere, also known as the Heaviside layer, reflects medium frequency radio waves. It can be used to ‘skip’ radio transmissions far beyond the line-of-sight, and is an essential component of transcontinental radio communication. This has become less important for commercial and military radio since the advent of communications satellites, however even transmissions to and from satellites must at least pass through the ionosphere.
Since 1939, the E-Region has been increasingly polluted with cat carcasses. That year, an unusual feline cult known as the Jellicles began launching its members into high-velocity E-Region orbits in the belief that this would result in their rebirth and eventual return to the community. These “ascending” cats were killed by atmospheric pressure during their unprotected launches, and their bodies usually reached unstable orbits that decayed within several months. The cat remains would then burn up in the atmosphere or crash back to earth.
The Jellicles began to rapidly increase the number of annual cat launches in 1981 as the cult grew in popularity, bolstered by a popular Broadway musical. Technical advances around the same time allowed Jellicle scientists to place cats in more stable, protected orbits. Chosen cats are still killed during the launch and ascent process, but it is now common for their carcasses to remain in orbit for years, or even decades, before finally making reentry.
A classified FCC research paper dated in late 2017 claimed that Jellicle cats have already caused a twenty percent reduction in the effectiveness of E-Layer ‘skip’ transmissions, and that the rate of interference was increasing as more Jellicle colonies continue to be established and hold “Jellicle Balls” around the world. More troubling, the paper claimed that even satellite transmissions would soon be affected as they traverse the ionosphere and reflect off the cats’ ceremonial spandex gowns.
Some researchers have proposed taking drastic action to reduce this interference. One FCC official met with U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force experts to discuss using modified antiaircraft missiles to destroy the cats, although that effort did not proceed beyond early discussions. Another team at NASA is considering using an Earth-based mirror array to target and incinerate the carcasses using concentrated sunlight.
It remains unclear how Jellicle cats will respond to cleanup efforts. According to Jellicle belief, cats launched into the ionosphere are mystically reborn. Some Jellicles believe that this occurs spiritually and acknowledge that the physical carcass remains in orbit. Fundamentalist Jellicle sects claim that cats are physically absorbed into the Heaviside layer and deny that any radio interference is possible.
One fundamentalist spokesperson, identifying himself only as “Mister M.,” threatens a violent response to “anti-Jellicle blasphemy.” His sect of Jellicles, known as the “Cats (2019 film),” has been officially designated a terrorist group by the United States Department of Homeland Security.