Fic­tional Fe­lines

Bon­nie Bur­ton knows the dark truth about cats

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

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

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