Among the photogenic felines is Allie, a black-and-white cat who lives in Reston, Va. Her owner, Randy Cepuch, flew all the way to London to see the unveiling of the station catification.
“The station looks wonderful, with pictures of cats all down the escalators and in the corridors,” Randy emailed me from a London pub before heading to the West End to see a show. “The Tube is pretty great, of course, and this just makes it better.”
The photos will be up for two weeks. A nice touch: There are cat photos on the station’s entry gates. They’re called “cat flaps.”
Randy said he learned about the unusual fundraising effort from a column I wrote in May. People who donated 100 pounds – around $140 – got to have a small image of their cat included on a poster. Larger posters feature cats from two rescue charities, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Cats Protection.
“One thing I especially like about this project is that it features a number of homeless cats – and with luck they won’t be homeless much longer,” wrote Randy. “Also, as I understand it the Glimpse people hope to use this experience to open the door for unusual efforts to help remedy more serious causes. Fortunately, it’s possible to try to take on serious stuff and do something on the lighter side!”
Glimpse founder James Turner said he and his comrades aren’t against advertising – some of them work in the field. They just want to see it used to “encourage positive values in society. Things like empathy and tolerance, community and togetherness deserve to be at the heart of our culture.”
Cats have become a bit of a cliché, but when it comes to raising money on the Internet, they move the needle.
In a statement James wrote: “We tried to imagine a world where public spaces made you feel good. We hope people will enjoy being in the station and maybe think a bit differently about the world around them.
“Instead of asking you to buy something, we’re asking you to think about what’s really valuable in your life. It might not be cats, but it’s probably something you can’t find in the shops.”
Like, for example, dogs, which may be the next animal featured in a Tube station.
Randy met Allie at an adoption fair in Leesburg in 2010. “Apparently she’d been rescued from a hoarding situation but these days she’s happy to be an ‘only cat,’” Randy wrote.
Randy, 61, is a retired financial writer who works occasionally as an elections officer and a securities industry dispute arbitrator. He also judges pie contests. Randy rides Washington’s Metro about once a month. His verdict? “It needs more cats.”