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Catwoman of Milan spares no expense for feline friend

Dispelling the notion that Italians are not animal lovers, a 77-year-old artist in Milan has taken out a full page in the country's leading newspaper to mourn the loss of her pet cat.

Luciana Matalon, who is exhibiting at the Venice Biennale, did not think twice about forking out tens of thousands of euros for the extravagant tribute to her deceased feline friend, Sky.

"My profound feelings are beyond financial measure," Ms Matalon told reporters at Corriere della Sera, the daily paper that printed the obit on Wednesday.

The tribute featured a photograph of Ms Matalon and Sky in happier days, with one of her sketches of the animal on a dark background plus her written tribute to the dead animal in large white letters. It began with the line: "The universe is listening to the huge silence; the world has switched off."

And her unorthodox view of death is revealed in the next line: "Today my magic cat Sky was kidnapped by a neutrino adrift in galactic space."

Ms Matalon, whose work at the Biennale includes paintings and sculpture, said her art was influenced by her former pet. "Everything that I've created in the past 15 years was inspired by, and dedicated to, Sky," she said.

Sky had filled a void left by the death of her husband some years ago. "He was more than just a faithful companion and he gave me emotions for 15 years," she said. "We were inseparable."

In the meantime, the grieving artist is planning a no-expense-spared burial, borrowing helicopter from a friend to fly Sky to its final resting place in Olbia, on the island of Sardinia.