Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The 25 best cats in SFF

Here’s a post at Barnes and Noble: The 25 best cats in science fiction and fantasy. Always a good topic, though I’m inclined to do a matching list for dogs. Still, click through if you’re so inclined and let’s take a look.

Okay, not all these cats are cat-cats. Aslan, for example; and the hani from Cherryh’s Chanur series; and David Webber’s “treecats,” which are, being alien, even less real cats than, say, a marsupial “tiger cat.” Cats, really?

Many of the more catlike cats on the list, I’ve never encountered. But this one sounds like my favorite kind of cat:

Slag in the The Tales of the Ketty Jay series, by Chris Wooding

Slag is the feral cat that lives on Captain Darian Frey’s ship, the Ketty Jay. He’s just a cat. He doesn’t talk, or have magic powers, and rarely has a direct connection to the main plot of Wooding’s arch, fun SFF series (ideal for anyone missing Firefly). But Slag entertains, and often offers a perspective—especially in his popular POV chapters—that illuminates the situation of the crew in ways that feel refreshing and unobtrusively informative in ways that no other character could achieve.

A real cat! I actually like that better than (most) talking cats or (most) catlike beings. Also, saying a series would appeal to Firefly fans does make me feel like looking it up.

I know there are a LOT of SFF cats missing from this B&N list. But at the moment I can’t quite think of which cats are missing.

However, I know what possibly the weirdest cats ever in SFF might be: Mother Hutton’s Littul Kittons There’s a pdf version here.

Though of Cordwainer Smith’s cats, I liked the ones in “Game of Rat and Dragon” better. You can read that story here, if you’re interested.

Who’s your very favorite cat in SFF? Or — let’s open it up — in all of literature? Drop a cat in the comments, please!

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10 Comments The 25 best cats in SFF

  1. Sandstone

    I am very surprised not to see Diane Duane’s Feline Wizards series on the list! It’s a spinoff of her MG/YA Young Wizards series for adults, starting with The Book of Night With Moon, about a Rhiow, a feline wizard, and the rest of her team as they try to keep Earth’s worldgates up and running- the concept might sound cheesy or weird but they are actually super great.

  2. Adam

    The griffons in your book make me laugh, because they are such cats. Someone just healed me? I think I’ll attack. Someone magically teleported into my camp? Not worth getting up. Humans are here? Did they bring food?

  3. Mary Beth

    I always loved Narknon and the other hunting cats in Robin McKinley’s Damar books — all the loyalty and independence of the best house cats, PLUS she can feed you and keep you warm at night!

  4. SarahZ

    I was happy to see Mogget and Lying Cat on the list, but where’s Faithful, from Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books?

  5. Rachel

    Sandstone, I agree, I haven’t read those but they sound like cats are definitely front and center.

    Mary Beth, yes, I particularly enjoyed Narknon begging for porridge. I’ve had cats with definite tastes for unsuitable people food too.

    Maureen, good choice! I’d forgotten Taggle.

    Lise, thanks for the link! Roughly a zillion cat stories listed there.

    Sarah, I thought of Faithful, too. If being a god is disqualifying, why is Aslan on the list? If it’s not disqualifying, welll, there you go.

    And Adam, thank you! Your comment made *me* laugh.

  6. madscientistnz

    I’m not a cat (or dog) person, but just wanted to say I like the Ketty Jay series. It really is a similar flavour to Firefly, and has more heart than the characters want to let on.

  7. Rachel

    Good to know! I think I really ought to try this series.*

    *NOTE TO PUBLISHERS: I will not pay $12 for the first ebook of a series by a new-to-me author. Why are the first two books in the series $12 and the later books $8? Why is the ebook twice the price of the hardcover? Are you guys** crazy? I bought a used copy of the hardcover for $0.01 plus shipping and handling, which you’ll note is exactly as easy for me as paying more because Amazon displays all the prices in one place.

    If I fall in love with this series, then *maybe* I will pay new-book prices and maybe not.

    ** This is Random House, btw

  8. Bret

    Andre Norton had a few, Sinbad was the ship’s cat in the Solar Queen series. In The Zero Stone and Uncharted Stars Eet was a cat-like creature whose mother was a ship’s cat.
    If we are counting Cherryh’s Hani we should include Norton’s Salariki.

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