Star Trek was conquered by cats long before they took over the internet.
There are as many cats as alternate realities in Trek canon beginning with The Original Series‘ Isis to Discovery‘s Grudge.
Above: Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) with his feline Star Trek: Discovery co-star draped over his shoulders. Photo Credit: James Dimmock/CBS.
GRUDGE is easily the feline whose received the most screen time having been in nearly every episode of Discovery season 3. Her ersatz tag line, frequently uttered by Book, “She’s a queen!” has become a funny underscore for a number of great scenes.
According to CBS Watch Magazine, “The script called for a fat cat. Grudge, the feline companion of new character Cleveland ‘Book’ Booker (David Ajala), was meant to just plod around in the background of scenes in the current season of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery.
But that wasn’t an easy assignment for expert animal wrangler Paul Rutledge and his colleague Lesley Laurence. “Being on set can be an extremely stressful situation for an overweight cat,” says Rutledge.
Then the veteran wrangler got a burst of inspiration. Why not cast a Maine Coon? This exotic-looking feline is the largest domesticated cat breed and one of the oldest bred in North America.
Enter Leeu and Durban, two lookalike brothers (see photo below) who belong to restaurateur Michelle Smith and take turns playing the part.
Far from portly (though the still-growing Leeu, 3, is over 40 inches long and weighs more than 20 pounds), the breakout animal stars of the new season have brought a playful athleticism to the role. They have even been known to deviate from the script during takes and leap suddenly onto their co-stars’ backs.
While these two are extraordinarily well trained (Leeu knows how to use the toilet), Smith keeps a backup plan in her pocket just in case. Says Smith, “I have some really excellent catnip.”
GAYNRD gathered its two biggest cat lovers: Dekker Dreyer and Kareem Harper to help round up the greatest cats to feature in Star Trek, who Grudge joins, in its over 50 year history.
SPOT was Lt. Commander Data’s famous feline friend from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Prior to Grudge, Spot was the most recurring regular cat in a Star Trek series. She first appeared in the episode “Data’s Day” Season 4, Episode 11 that aired January 7, 1991. According to Wikipedia: Spot originally appears as a male Somali cat, but later appears as a female orange tabby cat, eventually giving birth to kittens (TNG: “Genesis”).
Spot was notoriously unfriendly to most people other than Data. Commander William Riker once received serious scratches while trying to feed Spot (“Timescape”). Geordi La Forge borrowed her to experience taking care of a cat, but she knocked over a vase and teapot and damaged his furniture (“Force of Nature”).
And when Data asked Worf to take care of Spot, Worf proved to be allergic to her and sneezed in her face, angering her (“Phantasms”). However, she did get along with Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, so when Data had to leave on a mission at the same time Spot’s kittens were due, he persuaded Barclay to take care of her (“Genesis”).
“And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.” Data, reciting “Ode to Spot”, 2369 (“A Fistful of Datas“)
Isis was involved in the 1968 sabotage and detonation of a nuclear missile in the atmosphere just 104 miles above the surface of central Eurasia. This near-calamity made the rival governments cease, for a time at least, the deployment of nuclear weapons in orbit, and rethink their old strategy of “balance of power.”
Though apparently Seven’s pet cat, Isis was more: she communicated with him through telepathy, and understood his spoken words. She accompanied him wherever he went and watched out for him. Isis was also able to take Human form. In both forms, she wore the same collar around her neck.
SYLVIA from The Original Series episode, “Cat’s Paw,” season 2, episode 7, which aired October 27, 1967.
On a spooky planet in what was supposed to be a “Halloween episode” the crew orbits the apparently lifeless planet Pyris VII. Contact has been lost with the landing party, consisting of Chief Engineer Scott, Lt. Sulu, and Crewman Jackson. Jackson calls for transport back to the ship, but falls from the platform dead. His open mouth emits an eerie voice, telling Captain Kirk that Enterprise is cursed and must leave the planet immediately, or death will follow.
Entering the castle, the landing party comes upon a black cat wearing a diamond pendant. The cat is actually a woman named Sylvia manifesting some shapeshifting abilities.
Sylvia wants to experience human sensations, and appears in various feminine forms to stimulate Kirk’s interest. Kirk plays along as he tries to get information. Sylvia tells Kirk that she and Korob are explorers from another galaxy, who wield their power through a device called a transmuter, which gives them control over matter. Sylvia then realizes Kirk is using her, and angrily sends him back to the dungeon. Korob comes to free Kirk and Spock, telling them that he has released their ship, and urges them to leave immediately, as he can no longer keep Sylvia under control. Sylvia, in the form of a giant cat, attacks him. Korob releases his scepter and Kirk picks it up, guessing it to be the transmuter.
Kirk tells Sylvia that he has the transmuter, and then destroys it when Sylvia threatens him with a phaser. The castle disappears and Sulu, Scotty, and McCoy return to normal. Looking down, Kirk sees two tiny blue and yellow creatures, apparently Korob’s and Sylvia’s true forms. Unable to survive without the transmuter, the two creatures die and disintegrate.
“Catspaw” is on a list of “eerie, disturbing and downright scary” episodes of the series. The list noted that the episode was written by Robert Bloch, writer of the famous psychological thriller Psycho.
CHESTER was Miles O’Brien’s cat from Deep Space 9.
O’Brien brought Chester to Deep Space 9 after Liam Bilby asked him to look after Chester before he died during an operation for the Orion Syndicate.
Later that year, Molly wanted to take Chester with them on a trip to Golana. Keiko, who didn’t particularly like the cat, tried to sway her from the idea. Miles added that he might get lost, which changed Keiko’s mind about taking the cat.
While there, Molly expressed her interest to be an exobiologist, which she defined as “someone who studies animals from other planets“, prompting Keiko to give Chester as an example. Molly then asked if she could take Chester with her should Miles send his wife and daughter away from the station again.
NEELIX was Reginald Barclay‘s pet cat. Barclay named the cat after the USS Voyager‘s Talaxian crewman Neelix. Barclay obtained Neelix after he left the USS Enterprise-E and was attached to the Pathfinder Project.
Neelix was not used to guests. When Deanna Troi visited Barclay in 2376, Neelix helped himself to Troi’s chocolate ice cream. Troi suggested that he be introduced to Data‘s pet cat Spot. (VOY episode: “Pathfinder“).
While visiting the Alpha Quadrant in 2376, The Doctor noted that there were several discrepancies in Barclay’s otherwise accurate holographic recreation of Voyager, chief among being that the holographic Neelix purred. Deanna attributed this to Neelix the cat.
CAITIANS The Caitians were a warp-capable species that resembled humanoid felines.
The Caitian home world was a Federation member and Caitians were already attending Starfleet Academy around the early 2250s. They were also present as members of the Federation Council in 2286. (DIS: “Brother“; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).
While not technically cats, we believe they speak to the feline love of the Federation.
LIEUTENANT M’RESS was a female Caitian Starfleet operations division officer who served aboard the USS Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk during the final two years of a historic five-year mission. She was featured in Star Trek: The Animated Series and voiced by Majel Barrett.
DOCTOR T’ANA of Star Trek: Lower Decks. Commander T’Ana was a female Caitian who served as Chief Medical Officer and was a member of Captain Freeman’s bridge crew on the U.S.S. Cerritos. Known for her acerbic wit and terrible bedside manner she was an integral member of the crew.
And this Starfleet commodore was a flag officer who attended James T. Kirk’s court martial in 2286 in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
In the Kelvin Timeline, James T. Kirk slept with a pair of Caitian twins in 2259 in Star Trek Into Darkness.