The Best Science Fiction Books with Cats in Them

I haven’t read all of these books, but I made the internet pinky-swear that there are indeed cats in all of them.


Implied Spaces
by Walter Jon Williams – 2008

Aristide, a semi-retired computer scientist turned swordsman, is a scholar of the implied spaces, seeking meaning amid the accidents of architecture in a universe where reality itself has been sculpted and designed by superhuman machine intelligence.

While exploring the pre-technological world Midgarth, one of four dozen pocket universes created within a series of vast, orbital matrioshka computer arrays, Aristide uncovers a fiendish plot threatening to set off a nightmare scenario, perhaps even bringing about the ultimate Existential Crisis: the end of civilization itself.

Traveling the pocket universes with his wormhole-edged sword Tecmesssa in hand and talking cat Bitsy (avatar of the planet-sized computer Endora) at his side, Aristide must find a way to save the multiverse from subversion, sabotage, and certain destruction.

The Pride of Chanur
by C. J. Cherryh – 1981

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company—a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown. He was a prisoner of his discoverer/captors: the sadistic, treacherous kif, until his escape onto the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.

Little did he know when he threw himself upon the mercy of The Pride and her crew that he put the entire hani species in jeopardy and imperiled the peace of the Compact itself. For the information this fugitive held could be the ruin or glory of any of the species at Meetpoint Station.

by Vonda N. McIntyre – 1986

Twelve-year-old Barbary is emigrating from Earth to Einstein, an orbital space station. Researchers and diplomats on board the station are preparing to meet the first alien spacecraft to visit the solar system. Barbary wants to stay with her new sister, Heather, and Heather’s father Yoshi. But Barbary is keeping a secret, and if her secret is discovered, she could be sent back to Earth.

(It is unclear what role the cat plays, but it’s there.)

Cats in Space and Other Places
Edited by Bill Fawcett – 1992

Space. The Feline Frontier.

It has been said (by Mark Twain) that “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” This book explores the many and manifest reasons why humans should voluntarily accord first place in space to their feline brethren. From Robert A. Heinlein’s “Ordeal in Space,” in which the merest kitten confers the gift of courage on his human, to Cordwainer Smith’s “Ballad of Lost C’mell,” which answers the very question of what would be the outcome of the melding of human and cat, this books offers sixteen reasons why cats are Number One.

Beast Master's Planet: Omnibus of Beast Master and Lord of Thunder
by Andre Norton – 1959

In 1959, Andre Norton published The Beast Master, a fast-paced science fiction adventure that introduced to readers a new kind of hero: Hosteen Storm. Storm, a Navajo from the American southwest, served in the Planetary Confederacy forces as a Beast Master teamed with an African eagle, a meercat, and a dune cat.

Telepathically linked to his team animals, Storm served valiantly in the war that eventually defeated the alien Xiks, though victory could not prevent the aliens from destroying Earth. With his homeworld gone, Storm emigrated to the colonized frontier planet Arzor, where he would have to help fight a holdout Xik force that has brought the war to his adopted home.

In Lord of Thunder, Storm’s beast master skills and animal partners are needed to unravel the mystery behind a huge gathering of the indigenous Norbies. Only Storm and his half-brother Logan Quade can penetrate the Norbies’ clan secrets and discover what is behind the threat of an uprising that could destroy the tenuous peace between the colonists and the aliens who share their planet.

“A compelling and compassionate tale.”
—New York Times on The Beast Master

The A.I. Who Loved Me
by Alyssa Cole – 2020

Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: hanging out with her two best friends at their apartment complex; working remotely for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center; and recovering from the incident that sent her world into a tailspin. She’s just beginning to regain her bearings when her life is turned upside down by the arrival of Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew.

Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine.

It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but soon their humanity lessons become as vital to her as they are to her newfound friend. They’re both pulled into dangerous territory as they figure out whether Li Wei is capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.

(It is unclear what role the cat plays, but I am assured it is in the story.)

Space Opera
by Catherynne M. Valente – 2018

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance, and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.

“Valente’s effervescent prose is wildly creative and often funny…[an] endearing, razzle-dazzle love song about destiny, finding one’s true voice, and rockin’ the house down.”
—Publishers Weekly

(It is unclear what role the cat plays, but I am assured it is in the story.)

by Robert Repino – 2015

The “war with no name” has begun, with human extinction as its goal. The instigator of this war is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who, for thousands of years, have been silently building an army that would forever eradicate the destructive, oppressive humans. Under the Colony’s watchful eye, this utopia will be free of the humans’ penchant for violence, exploitation and religious superstition. As a final step in the war effort, the Colony uses its strange technology to transform the surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who rise up to kill their masters.

Former housecat turned war hero, Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions and fighting the dreaded human bio-weapon EMSAH. But the true motivation behind his recklessness is his ongoing search for a pre-transformation friend—a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message from the dwindling human resistance claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will take him from the remaining human strongholds to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the source of EMSAH and the ultimate fate of all of earth’s creatures.

Mort(e) catapults the reader into a wild, apocalyptic world . . . [Mort(e)’s] journey, set against the backdrop of an ideological war between pure rationality and mysticism, makes for a strangely moving story.”
—The Washington Post

Chilling Effect
by Valerie Valdes – 2019

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

by Charles Stross – 2005

The cat here is a robot, but that’s good enough for me.

Accelerando moves like a bat out of hell and made me afraid that the future’s going to tear us all a new one.

It’s dense, and author Charles Stross presents enough throwaway ideas for at least a dozen other novels.

Accelerando follows the adventures of three generations as they experience the world just before the technological singularity, during it, and just after.

(The technological singularity is the point where an artificial intelligence begins to create a runaway chain reaction of improving itself, with each iteration becoming more intelligent. Eventually, it is vastly superior to any human intelligence. Is that something to worry about? Maybe. Stephen Hawking once said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”)

The book is deeply technical in spots, which is fun, but still has good characters you root for (or despise).

“Stross surfs a wave of ideas and information that seems always on the brink of collapsing into incomprehensibility, but never does—a careening plunge through strangeness in which every page contains something to mess with your head.”
—SF Site

by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – 2010

Pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, scientist—ship’s cat? All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats have become highly prized crew members. Thomas’s carefully bred progeny, ably assisted by humans—Cat Persons—with whom they share a deep and loving bond, now travel the galaxy, responsible for keeping spacecraft free of vermin, for alerting human crews to potential environmental hazards, and for acting as morale officers.

Even among Barque Cats, Chessie is something special. Her pedigree, skills, and intelligence, as well as the close rapport she has with her human, Janina, make her the most valuable crew member aboard the Molly Daise. And the litter of kittens in her belly only adds to her value.

Then the unthinkable happens. Chessie is kidnapped—er, catnapped—from Dr. Jared Vlast’s vet clinic at Hood Station by a grizzled spacer named Carl Poindexter. But Chessie’s newborn kittens turn out to be even more extraordinary than their mother. For while Chessie’s connection to Janina is close and intuitive, the bond that the kitten Chester forms with Carl’s son, Jubal, is downright telepathic. And when Chester is sent into space to learn his trade, neither he nor Jubal will rest until they’re reunited.

But the announcement of a widespread epidemic affecting livestock on numerous planets throws their future into doubt. Suddenly the galactic government announces a plan to impound and possibly destroy all exposed animals. Not even the Barque Cats will be spared.

With the clock racing against them, Janina, Jubal, Dr. Vlast, and a handful of very special kittens will join forces with the mysterious Pshaw-Ra—an alien-looking cat with a hidden agenda—to save the Barque Cats, other animals, and quite possibly the universe as they know it from total destruction.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
by Robert A. Heinlein – 1985

Dr. Richard Ames is an ex-military man, a sometime writer, and an unfortunate victim of mistaken identity. When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus Long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike could change the direction of all human history.

“[Heinlein] is, if possible, a greater genius than ever before… this time by giving us a thinking man’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

by Lois McMaster Bujold – 1996

Restored to life after being pronounced dead, Miles Vorkosigan realizes that the event has left him with a profound weakness and is dismissed from his job, but things are further complicated when he remembers something that he saw while dead.

“There is so much harking back to previous Vorkosigan tales in this book that it is hardly the place to start on the undersized hero’s adventures, yet Bujold fans of long standing will justly hail it as a masterpiece that contains some of her finest prose and characterization. Bujold continues to prove what marvels genius can create out of basic space operatics.”

On Basilisk Station
by David Weber – 1993

Having made a superior look foolish, recent graduate Honor Harrington is exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace, and her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station.

The government isn’t sure it wants to keep the place—the major local industry is smuggling; the merchant cartels want Honor Harrington’s head; the star-conquering, so-called “Republic” of Haven is Up To Something; the aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with woefully inadequate armament.

But the people out to get Honor have made one mistake. They’ve made her mad.

by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples – 2013

Saga is a hugely popular and imaginative series that won the 2013 Hugo for Best Graphic Story.

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

“Vaughan’s whip-snap dialogue is as smart, cutting, and well timed as ever.”
— Booklist (starred review)

(It is unclear what role the cat plays, but I am assured it, and many other creatures, are in the story.)

by Alan Dean Foster – 1979

Yes, this is the novelization of the excellent Alien movie. And the space cat is in the book, too.

“As timeless as the movie that spawned it.”
—Den of Geek

14 thoughts on “The Best Science Fiction Books with Cats in Them

  1. Regarding Alien, there’s a lovely little book called “Jonesy: Nine Lives on the Nostromo”, telling the story of the ship’s cat in Alien.

  2. The tree cats in the Honor Harrington are awesome but top of all cats in SF books should be Heinlein’s ‘Door into Summer’. Pete (Petronius the Arbiter) is the star of the book!

  3. Thanx for the heads-up on the Anne McCaffery book, “Catalyst”. I ordered it and the “Catacombs” book from eBay and I look forward to reading them.

  4. Heinlein also wrote the book, The Door Into Summer. The Title refers to a metaphor where the main character once owned a home with 13 exterior doors. His cat disliked walking in snow, so every winter the cat would insist on opening each of the 13 exterior doors, looking for the door into summer.

  5. The Kzin in RIngworld should probably qualify. Maybe not exactly earth cats, but my own cat is just as mean and orange

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