Bonnie Burton knows the dark truth about cats
CMaybe I judge cats because of the company they keep?
at least a few well- known sci- fi felines that love us and have no intention of stealing our breath or souls in the night.
Aslan – the Christ- like lion from The Chronicles of Narnia – loved humans, and also saved them by sacrificing himself to the White Witch. Jones the cat kept Alien’s Ellen Ripley distracted from the pending doom she and her crew faced. Spot the cat made the android Data seem more human on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
There are even humanoid cat heroes out there. Red Dwarf’s Cat had a certain fashion style and swagger that would make any hip- swinging alley cat jealous. And true salvation for the cat, for me, came from the animated realm. I spent most of my childhood yelling, “Thundercats, ho!” and pretending that our neighbourhood alley cats were actually Tygra, Panthro, Lion- O and crew. Thundercats showed that cats can possess enough moxie to battle even evil wizards like Mumm- Ra The Ever Living, and made me believe that all cats had special powers that made them powerful on any planet. Which, actually, isn’t far from the truth. It’s all about how they channel it... Bonnie didn’t have nearly enough space to cover every fictional cat. If your favourite isn’t here, please write angry letters to SFX. ats have been worshipped as far back as the Second Dynasty by the Egyptians and as recently as this year by most of the internet. So it makes perfect sense that cats are such a big part of sci- fi, horror and fantasy fiction.
Personally, I’m more of a dog person. My idea of the perfect companion is K- 9 from Doctor Who, Muffit the robot dog in the original Battlestar Galactica, or even a direwolf from Game Of Thrones. To be honest, I’d take a lupine roommate over a cat any day. There’s just something about cats; they seem like they allow us to live with them while secretly plotting our demise.
Perhaps I’m judgmental about cats because of the usual company they keep? I’ve lost count of how many villains like to keep them as pets. There’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s white cat from the Bond movies; Dr Evil’s hairless cat Mr Bigglesworth in Austin Powers and even Dr Claw’s sinister pet MAD Cat in the animated series Inspector Gadget, which handled the evil screen time while Claw lingered in the shadows. And let’s not forget Mrs Norris – Filch the groundskeeper’s cat in the Harry Potter series – who made sure to always spy on the young wizard and attempted to wrangle escaped owls.
Then there’s Azrael, the mangy cat that belonged to bitter wizard Gargamel in The Smurfs. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that cats are hardwired to stalk and kill their prey, but I’m not sure I’d put Smurfs in the same category as mice and birds. Though, in Azrael’s defence, those little blue dudes do look delicious. Is that raspberry?
So let’s scale up. What happens when humans are the prey? The harsh rules of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons mean regular cats can successfully kill off level- one peasants. In Doctor Who we come across the nurturing, kind Catkind nurses, whose pleasant behaviour should probably have been a clue that all was not as it seemed. Go back to classic Who, and the Cheetah People give us a much better clue of how a man- sized cat might behave: they gallop on horseback hunting down humans, much like the apes in Planet Of The Apes. The Werecats in Stephen King’s movie Sleepwalkers attack humans almost like energy vampires. They terrorise a rural Indiana town, feed off energy from female virgins, have sex with their family members and have telekinetic abilities. Thankfully, regular cats can kill them with their tiny claws, so I suppose regular cats are good for something.
But before every cat lover who reads this column decides to send me hate mail on their Hello Kitty stationery, I will admit that there are