I need your help with this one because–horror of horrors!–I have only eight cats on my list. I relying on the Internet to help fill out this list, so don’t you let me down. If you think of a deserving cat, leave a comment!
Here are the ground rules I used:
- I’m a little loosey goosey about what qualifies as science fiction, but only a little. Alice in Wonderland is an exploration of alternate universes and thus clearly qualifies, in my opinion. So the Cheshire Cat is in. 🙂 Unfortunately, Behemoth, in The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, is out. As much as I love that evil, vodka-swilling puddy tat, that book is social satire, not sf. 😦
- I’ve restricted my list to books. In other words, no matter how entrancing I find Dr. Who’s notion that cats are alien creatures with grandiose names, the good doctor doesn’t make the list. Sorry, but I simply don’t watch enough television or movies to have an intelligent opinion about celluloid felines. (Of course, I haven’t read every science fiction story ever written, either, but since when has ignorance ever stopped me?)
- And finally, I restricted the list to CATS. Not Little Fuzzies, as much as I love the beasties. Not leopards, as in Dickson’s Time Storm. And certainly not dogs. That’s another list entirely.
Pixel from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert Heinlein. The book itself is subpar Heinlein, but any cat who rates being a title character is star enough to make this list. In one scene Pixel does, in fact, walk through a wall. How? He succeeds simply because he’s too young to know that it’s impossible.
Gummitch from various stories by Fritz Lieber. This is one of several selections that prove my weakness for classic science fiction but hey, I’m an old fart. Imagine a kitten with an IQ of 160! They all think they’re that smart, of course, but Gummitch really is.
Sprockets from Mission to Universe by Gordon R. Dickson. Dickson was an asthmatic who was allergic to cats, but that didn’t stop him from writing a great cat. Sprockets is a stowaway feral kitten who becomes spaceship mascot. He doesn’t purr. The crew believe that if he learns to purr, they’ll find success in their search for an inhabitable planet. That’s the old scientific spirit for you!
Chester from The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe. Okay, this isn’t strictly speaking science fiction; it’s a youthful fantasy. But back when I was an elementary school teacher, I read this and other books by Howe to my class of ten and eleven year olds, and that’s enough for me to add it to the list. Also don’t miss Howliday Inn. Gotta love a writer who’s unabashed about puns!
The Green Cat from Green Millennium by Fritz Lieber. The book may not be Lieber’s best, but the cat sure is. The human hero keeps following after the (nameless) cat because of the contentment he feels in its presence. Anyone who’s ever petted a purring pussy can relate. Unless they’re a dog person. But what are you doing reading this if you’re a dog lover?
The Barque Cats (take your pick from a shipload of cats). They’re the stars of two books: Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.
The Cheshire Cat, who else? This dude’s attitude is 100% feline. If a cat could talk and smoke hookah’s, it would be exactly as aloof and supercilious as this disappearing cat. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
And the number one science fiction cat of all time is …
Are you ready for it?
Prepare to boo and hiss if I left off your favorite.
Petronius the Arbiter (AKA Pete) from The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein. Daniel Boone Davis occasionally carries this smart, loving cat in a carrying-bag and feeds him ginger ale. Dan calls him Petronius the Arbiter because Pete is a good judge of people. If Pete doesn’t like someone, Dan doesn’t. Like any self-respecting cat, Pete is, of course always right.
And that’s what I’ve come up with. Any additions, corrections, ‘are you crazy’s’? Leave a comment.