Heinlein Novels and Cats

International Cat Day was a few days ago. Being a fan of Robert Heinlein – who frequently included cats in his stories – I started a discussion on Facebook about which of his stories do not have cats in them. While a number of people provided feedback on stories in which they remembered (or didn’t remember) with cats, I was curious if maybe there were some references folks were forgetting. So, I dug in and did a bit of research.

As it turns out, I found use of the word “cat” in all but one of Heinlein’s novels (Orphans of the Sky). They break down into three basic categories:

  1. Phrases that reference cats (e.g., “cat-and-mouse games” or “trying to bell the cat”)
  2. Cat metaphors, analogies, or nicknames indicating the character knows something significant about cat behavior
  3. Actual cats – either as characters themselves, or described by characters (e.g., they kept or met a cat in the past)

Admittedly, my initial question about which stories do not “include cats” was concerned only with the third category. However, the more I looked into the references, I think stories who employ a decent sampling of the second category in the words of characters (including narrators) also qualify, while no amount of the first category would cause a story to qualify as “including cats.”

The reasoning behind this is fairly simple. Phrases, colloquialism, and aphorisms that employ the word “cat” are an artefact of language, and using such phrases does not necessarily mean that cats exist in the story. A good example is the saying, “There’s more than one way to skin [or kill] a cat,” which Heinlein uses in several variations throughout his books. This phrase has been around a long time, but the way people use it has nothing to do with actually skinning (or killing) cats – if it ever did. Considering the speculative future in which Heinlein worked, it’s possible to think that such artefacts of language could continue without cats necessarily being part of those futures.

On the other hand, a significant number of metaphorical references to cats could imply a stronger connection than linguistic leftovers of an earlier time. Depending on the metaphors used, they can indicate that the character is personally familiar with cats and understands the cat’s nature more than as a casual turn of phrase might indicate. A great example of this is in the opening chapter of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, in which Manny asks: “Is a virus self-aware? Nyet. How about oyster? I doubt it. A cat? Almost certainly.” Although no specific cats are actually depicted in the story, Manny – who is a native Loonie (bred and born on the moon) – clearly has enough of a first-hand knowledge of cats to understand their personality in a way that makes them distinguishable from oysters and viruses. It is unclear whether any cats live on Luna, but it would not exactly be surprising if the reader found out they did.

Some people might consider such reasoning a cop-out, and so be it if they do. But after my assessment I discovered that most of Heinlein’s novels do in fact “include cats.” The results of my investigation are below; note that I did not list every reference to cats, but only enough to prove to my own satisfaction whether a story contains cats or not. Also, I kept it simple by searching only for “cat,” but not related words like “feline,” “tabby,” various breeds, etc. All page references are to the Virginia Edition of their respective books.

Rocket Ship Galileo

No cats, but two cat phrases:

Cargraves was out the window and had cat-footed it around behind the machine shop before the light came on again. (46)

“No matter what sort of a code they used, if people started picking up radio from the direction of the moon, the cat would be out of the bag.” (146)

Beyond This Horizon

References to an actual cat appear on pages 74-75; plus, there are several Type 2 allusions to cats throughout.

Let it suffice that no representative of Homo proteus is believed to be alive today. He joined the great dinosaurs and the sabre-toothed cats. (28)

She was beautiful, no doubt, but beauty alone is, of course, no special mark of distinction among girls. They cannot help being beautiful, any more than can a Persian cat, or a luna moth, or a fine race horse. (50)

She answered this by giving a brief but entirely futile imitation of a small cyclone, with wildcat overtones. (59)

A sweet little hell cat you picked for me. (63)

Thaddeus Johnson’s cat (74-75)

Space Cadet

Type 2 references include calling the space boots worn by the cadets “cat feet”; however, a single reference to one of the characters having had a tomcat solidifies the presence of cats in the story.

His feet glided softly over the floor. The effect was catlike, easy grace; Matt felt that if the room were suddenly to turn topsy-turvy the cadet would land on his feet on the ceiling-which was perfectly true. (6)

The shoes delighted him. He zipped them on, relishing their softness and glovelike fit. It seemed as if he could stand on a coin and call it, heads or tails. “Cat feet”—his first space boots! (7)

Keep that harmonica—I like harmonica music. Have those photos copied in micro. Feed the rest to the cat. (41)

A few moments later he was assuring them that he would much rather teach a cat to swim. (63)

The Martian is another sort of a cat, and so is the Venerian. (93)

“When you’re back under weight, after days and weeks of that, you walk the way I do. ‘Cat feet’ we call it.” (97)

At the pilot’s yell Matt tried to comply-but he had been sprawled out, relaxing. He grabbed the sides of the rest, trying to force himself up and back to the control station, but the rest tilted backwards; he found himself “skinning the cat” out of it, and then was resting on the side of the craft, which was now horizontal. (135)

If they are anything like the same breed of cat as the natives around the polar colonies, they’ll feed us. To keep another creature shut up without feeding it is a degree of orneriness they just wouldn’t think of. (145)

“Could you hate a dog? Or a cat—”
“Sure could,” said Tex. “There was an old tomcat we had once—”
“Pipe down and let me finish. Conceding your, point, you can hate, a cat only by placing it on your own social level. She doesn’t regard Burke as … well, as people at all, because he doesn’t follow the customs. We’re ‘people’ to her, because we do, even though we look like him. But Burke in her mind is just a dangerous animal, like a wolf or a shark, to be penned up or destroyed—but not hated or punished. (163)

Red Planet

Sadly, there are no cats in the story, but there is one dubious reference – it’s unclear whether it’s a Type 1 or Type 2.

In similar terms, violin music has been described as dragging a horse’s tail across the dried gut of a cat. (29)

Sixth Column

A few Type 1 references, but nothing substantial enough to qualify.

They’ve taken that so-called ‘Ledbetter effect’ and shaken it the way a terrier shakes a rat. They can do anything with it but peel the potatoes and put out the cat. (30)

“I can sell dead cats to the board of health with a proper budget and a free hand.” (36)

I’m nervous as a cat already. (84)

Farmer in the Sky

Some people might think the references are too thin for this to pass, but hear me out. In addition to two Type 1 phrases about having enough room to swing a cat, there’s a reference to a character not having a cat – which implies that cats exist and are something that could be had. In addition, there is a reference to “old maids” who at one time kept cats to catch field mice.

My silkworms I turned over to the school biology lab and the same for the snakes. Duck wanted my aquarium but I wouldn’t let him; twice he’s had fish and twice he’s let them die. I split them between two fellows in the troop who already had fish. The birds I gave to Mrs. Fishbein on our deck. I didn’t have a cat or a dog; George says ninety floors up is no place to keep junior citizens—that’s what he calls them. (17)

There were nearly six thousand of us crowded into the Mayflower and that doesn’t leave room to swing a cat. (52)

Or take the old history book case: the English colonies took England’s young bachelors and that meant old maids at home and old maids keep cats and the cats catch field mice and the field mice destroy the bumble bee nests and bumble bees are necessary to clover and cattle eat clover and cattle furnish the roast beef of old England to feed the soldiers to protect the colonies that the bachelors emigrated to, which caused the old maids. (91)

In the mean time the house would be a living room, ten by twelve, where I would sleep, a separate bedroom too small to swing a cat for George and Molly, and Peggy’s room. (112)

The willing emigrant is an odd breed of cat. (147)

Between Planets

The narrator reminisces about an old stable cat.

Once he had come across the stable cat playing with a mouse. He had watched for a moment, fascinated even though his sympathies were with the mouse, before he had stepped forward and put the poor beastie out of its misery. The cat had never once let the mouse scamper further than pounce range. Now he was the mouse— (27)

The Puppet Masters

This is the first novel where a named cat is something of a significant character.

(It seems strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats. For me, one particular cat.) (1)

I can drink vodka without blinking and spit Russian like a cat-as well as Cantonese, Kurdish, and some other bad-tasting tongues. (2)

The Old Man sidled toward the body, like a cat cautiously investigating the unknown. (11)

“You realize you would have the same chance as a mouse at a cat convention.” (32)

Once I saw a cat struck by a ground car; the poor thing leapt straight up about four feet with its back arched the wrong way and all limbs flying. (119)

It was the “struck cat” all over again. His body seemed to explode so violent was the spasm. I was in the car and gunning it almost before he hit the pavement. (125)

Pirate the cat (153-154; 159-163)

“A slug would not mount a cat just for the hell of it, would it?…Surely there aren’t enough of them that they can afford to place themselves on cats on the off chance that the cat might catch a human.” (167)

“I’d say you got off easy-no offense, madam. So it’s cats, now, eh? Dogs I knew about. Horses, yes. But cats-you wouldn’t think the ordinary cats could carry one.” His face clouded. “We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like that.” (171)

A hell of a world where you could not trust dogs!
Apparently cats were hardly ever used because of their smaller size. Poor old Pirate was an exceptional case. (174)

Like finding the cat locked in the icebox, it called for explanation. (203)

“Sounds like the black cat in the coal cellar at midnight.…” (205)

The Rolling Stones

The obvious reference in this book is the flat cats, but some folks might consider that cheating since they are alien animals and not cats, strictly speaking (though they are named for their similarity to cats). Fortunately, Papa Stone talks about a cat he once “traveled” with, qualifying the story as a bona fide Type 3.

When we get these inside and clamped down, there won’t be room enough in the hold to swing a cat, much less do repair work. If you were thinking of monopolising the living space, consider it vetoed.”
“Why would anyone want to swing a cat?” asked Meade. “The cat wouldn’t like it. Speaking of that, why don’t we take a cat?”
“No cats,” her father replied. “I travelled with a cat once and I was in executive charge of its sand box. No cats.”
“Please, Cap’n Daddy! I saw the prettiest little kitten over at the Haileys’ yesterday and—”
“No cats. And don’t call me “Captain Daddy.” One or the other, but the combination sounds silly.” (47)

He stood up with a catlike motion, slid across or without lifting his feet. (99)

flat cats (throughout)

Starman Jones

Cats in the Asgard – both human and feline.

He twitched the belt like a cat lashing its tail. (7)

There were cats in the Asgard, too, but most of these were free citizens and crewmen, charged with holding down the rats and mice that had gone into space along with mankind. One of Max’s duties was to change the sand boxes on each deck and take the soiled ones to the oxydizer for processing.
The other cats were pets, property of passengers, unhappy prisoners in the kennel off the stables. The passengers’ dogs lived there, too; no dogs were allowed to run free. (44)

Max’s duties did not take him above “C” deck except to service the cats’ sand boxes and he usually did that before the passengers were up.… Often an owner of one of the seven dogs and three cats in Max’s custody would come down to visit his pet. (51)

On beginning his duties in the Asgard Max found the creature in one of the cages intended for cats; Max looked into it and a sad, little, rather simian face looked back at him. (52)

The compartment in which the cats were located was small and the door could be fastened… (52-54)

Like searching at midnight in a dark cellar for a black cat that isn’t there. (88)

Why, even the hills around home weren’t safe if a body didn’t keep his eyes peeled … you could run into a mean old bobcat, or even a bear. (155)

The Star Beast

Right at the beginning of a story we get a reference to a mastiff who terrorizes cats (among other things). One of the characters also mentions having had cats.

Lummox had nothing against dogs; in the course of his long career with the Stuart family he had known several socially and had found them pretty fair company in the absence of John Thomas. But this mastiff was another matter. He fancied himself boss of the neighborhood, bullied other dogs, terrorized cats, and repeatedly challenged Lummox to come out and fight like a dog. (3)

Lummox had a sense of property as nice as that of any house cat. (6)

The other Rargyllian Greenberg had worked with had worn no clothes at all (since the people of Vega-VI wore none) and had carried his tail aloft, like a proud cat. (75)

Mum angry was bad enough, but Mum with ‘that secret, catlike look, all sweetness and light, he was even more wary of. (90)

He remembered uneasily someone saying what a blessing it was cats did not have hands well, Lummie had more curiosity than any cat. (121)

“I’m not wet, not through a flying suit. But you look like a dunked cat.” (130)

“He never meant any’ harm! So kill him quickly…don’t play cat-and-mouse with him.” (136)

“Did you ever raise rabbits? Or cats?”
“I’ve had cats.” (193)

Tunnel in the Sky

There are enough Type 2 references indicating that the narrator and characters are familiar with cats that I’m counting this one. Also, this is the first of Heinlein’s references to Kilkenny cats.

Man is the one animal that can’t be tamed. He goes along for years as peaceful as a cow, when it suits him. Then when it suits him not to be, he makes a leopard look like a tabby cat. (4)

“Myself, I like a cat’s way of saying good-by.”
Rod’s mind was in a turmoil. Not to say good-by seemed unnatural, ungrateful, untrue to family sentiment—but the prospect of saying good-by seemed almost unbearably embarrassing. “What’s that about a cat?”
“When a cat greets you, he makes a big operation of it, humping, stropping your legs, buzzing like mischief. But when he leaves, he just walks off and never looks back. Cats are smart.” (28)

“I must have hit that trunk like a cat!” (50)

Rod returned in the afternoon with the carcass of a small animal which seemed to be a clumsy cross between a cat and a rabbit. (76)

“More individualistic than cats, nevertheless we have learned to cooperate more efficiently than ants or bees or termites.” (97)

The committee on cats and dogs reported. No cats, no dogs. (113)

And the cat is out of the bag! (115)

The wall was pierced by stobor traps, narrow tunnels just big enough for the vicious little beasts and which gave into deep pits, where they could chew on each other like Kilkenny cats – which they did. (160)

“Okay,” McGowan agreed. “Just cat clawing. I am going to show this rube that one McGowan is worth two of him.” (170)

These are stobor, aren’t they? Little carnivores heavy in front, about the size of a tomcat and eight times as nasty?” (186)

Double Star

A bunch of Type 1 references, but nothing that would qualify the story.

“It will be impossible for you to sneak along in that catfooted spaceman’s crouch.” (13)

A hand about the size of a cat closed on myupper arm. (18)

In time, something as silly as not crunching celery could let the cat out of the bag. (31)

The trouble with adopting a cat is that they always have kittens. (72)

“You know that skit where you are a tramp? First you try to milk a cow-no luck. Finally you end up eating out of the cat’s dish—but even the cat pushes you away?” (103)

Corpsman’s expression reminded me of the way a cat submits to the inevitable—“just barely.” (106)

Time for the Stars

I’m going to qualify this one because even though there are only a few references, they indicate a familiarity with cats that implies the narrator and characters know them.

The population problem would be solved one way or another long before then…maybe the way the Kilkenny cats solved theirs. (97)

“For his breed of cat, it’s robust mental health. Any other breed I would lock up and feed through the keyhole.” (101)

Any big cat would have been much more dangerous, because cats are smart and he was stupid. (108)

Citizen of the Galaxy

Only one cat reference, but it’s Type 3 and that’s enough.

“Each cat his own rat.”
When they were outside Thorby said, “What did he mean, Father? I’ve seen cats, but what is a rat?” (121)

The Door Into Summer

Since this book was partly inspired by Heinlein’s cat, it’s no surprise that there’s a cat who shows up. Petronius the Arbiter is referenced throughout, so there’s no need to bother with specific references.

Have Space Suit—Will Travel

There are enough Type 2 references that I think this one qualifies, though some might question it. 

I tried, but all I got was snow and the sound was like two cats in a sack. (13)

About midnight I cat-footed down and tried it on again. (16)

One moved like a cat; the other moved clumsily and slowly-handicapped by a space suit. (29)

There was nobody in sight—a foregone conclusion, with the noise I had made, unless they were playing cat-and-mouse. (47)

For any human being, even a stranger with halitosis, I would have done it. For a dog or cat I would, although reluctantly. (52)

“Partner, will you untie this cat’s cradle?” (66)

The brat’s got more curiosity than seven cats. (98)

We jogged along, with me dictating to a silvery ball floating near my mouth and with Joe curled up like a cat on a platform raised to my level… (138)

“Now I can fight wildcats. Let’s go, Kip.” (155)

How dared they do this? They were mice voting to bell the cat! (164)

Methuselah’s Children

Not enough here to qualify. Page references are to The Future History of Robert Heinlein: Vol. II (VE 23).

Don’t grab a toothbrush, don’t wind the cat—just do it! (314)

“I see. The way the cat learned to swim. Well, that’s one way.” (316)

Lazarus looked again at the giddy little cat’s cradle of apparatus. (317)

Nancy is a cat and can’t help it. (341)

Starship Troopers

I’m going to qualify this one as well, given the vividness of the Type 2 references.

I want them to be as alert as a mouse at a cat show. (66)

Pipes seem very odd when you first hear them, and a tyro practicing can set your teeth on edge—it sounds and looks as if he had a cat under his arm, its tail in his mouth, and biting it. (76)

‘Greater love hath no man than a mother cat dying to defend her kittens.’ Once you understand the problem facing that cat and how she solved it, you will then be ready to examine yourself and learn how high up the moral ladder you are capable of climbing. (94)

“Willie’s Wildcats” (103-104; 107; 110)

We don’t expect kittens to fight wildcats and win—we merely expect them to try. (155)

Stranger in a Strange Land

There are lots of Type 1 and Type 2 references, but the clincher is the cat who lives at Jubal Harshaw’s place.

“He grew up in Mars gravity; he’s probably weak as a cat.” (33)

(Long untranscribable speech, sounds like a bullfrog fighting a cat.) (46)

He seemed as content as a cat in a lap. (108)

Well over a half century earlier he had sworn a mighty oath, full of fireworks, never again to pick up a stray cat-and now, so help him, by the multiple paps of Venus Genetrix, he had managed to pick up two at once no, three, if he counted Ben Caxton. (114)

But this matter has more aspects than a cat has hair. (132)

“That’s the excuse they gave the tomcat just before his operation.” (135)

Miriam and Dorcas in particular displayed ferocity that reminded Jubal of a mother cat defending her young (262)

liberty permitted cats and favorite children in the privacy of the home. (270)

Quit nuzzling the lad and let him eat his dinned Dorcas, you already reek like a Marseilles cat house; don’t wheedle Mike for more stinkum.” (302)

There was a cat who lived on the place (not as a pet, but as co-owner); on rare occasion it came to the house and deigned to accept a handout. The cat and Mike had grokked each other at once, and Mike had found its carnivorous thoughts most pleasing and quite Martian. He had discovered, too, that the cat’s name (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche) was not the cat’s name at all, but he had not told anyone this because he could not pronounce the cat’s real name; he could only hear it in his head. (302)

“Like cats and cooks, the Supreme Bishop goes without saying.” (321)

Jill was only mildly surprised when Mike’s robe disappeared, too; she chalked it up, correctly but not completely, to his catlike good manners. (357)

His idea is that whenever you encounter any other grokking thing-he didn’t say ‘grokking’ at this stage-any other living thing, man, woman, or stray cat… (427-428)

“The literary life—dreck! It consists in scratching the cat till it purrs.” (472)

The snake rubbed her head against his hand like a cat. (484)

He had been treated with hospitality and politeness, but it was more like the politeness of a cat than that of an over-friendly dog. (490)

“Jubal, it is said that God notes each sparrow that falls. And so He does. But the proper closest statement of it that can be made in English is that God cannot avoid noting the sparrow because the Sparrow is God. And when a cat stalks a sparrow both of them are God, carrying out God’s thoughts.” (524)

Podkayne of Mars

Poddy had a cat when she was a girl, and her brother makes a deal with the ship’s cat. All the other references are gravy.

Mother’s behavior had been utterly unbelievable. Her cortex has tripped out of circuit and her primitive instincts are in full charge. She reminds me of a cat we had when I was a little girl—Miss Polka Dot Ma’am and her first litter of kittens. Miss Pokie loved and trusted all of us—except about kittens. If we touched one of them, she was uneasy about it. If a kitten was taken out of her box and placed on the floor to be admired, she herself would hop out, grab the kitten in her teeth and immediately return it to the box, with an indignant waggle to her seat that showed all too plainly what she thought of irresponsible people who didn’t know how to handle babies. (11)

Say a thousand each—no, fifteen hundred-for travel expenses, and you keep your snapper shut forever about the baby mix-up…or I personally, with the aid of four stout, blackhearted accomplices, will cut your tongue out and feed it to the cat. (17-18)

I was just washing my face when the alarm sounded again, and I swarmed up those four decks like a frightened cat. (54)

Radiant masses about a kilo and, frankly, she looks like cat meat, not worth saving. (69)

German sounds like a man being choked to death, French sounds like a cat fight, while Spanish sounds like molasses gurgling gently out of a jug. (77)

“Clark! Oh, wonderful! But where did you get a mouse?”
“Made a deal with the ship’s cat.” (97)

I’ve been doing some hard thinking about piloting—and have concluded that there are more ways of skinning a cat than buttering it with parsnips. (100)

That door isn’t much use to me as there is a fairy perched over
it. She’s a cute little thing and the green part of her fur looks exactly like a ballet tutu. She doesn’t look quite like a miniature human with wings—but they do say that the longer you stay here the more human they look. Her eyes slant up, like a cat’s, and she has a very pretty built-in smile.
I call her “Titania” because I can’t pronounce her real name. She speaks a few words of Ortho, not much because those little skulls are only about twice the brain capacity of a cat’s skull—actually, she’s an idiot studying to be a moron and not studying very hard. (117)

Orphans of the Sky

No cat references of any type that I could find.

Glory Road

There are enough Type 2 references to cats that I’m qualifying this one.

Yet she was so lithe and limber that, like a cat, she could have twisted herself into any position. (15)

But I had a wildcat helping me at once, and quickly thereafter Rufo, dripping wet, added his vote. (55)

“You’re not talking about Rufo? Hi, Rufe, you old polecat!” (66)

Who questions a stray cat’s origin? (99)

I had my mind on targets—two kinds on the ground here: a rat big enough to eat cats and willing to eat people, and a wild hog about the same size and not a ham sandwich on him anyplace, all rawhide and bad temper. (115)

Allergic the way poor old Rufo is to Dramamine but more the way cat fur affects some people. (123)

he was as ready as a tomcat with his back up. (147)

“But time enough to get this straightened out,” added Rufo, “so that you can make up your own mind and not be carried around like a cat in a sack.” (158)

She looked like a beautiful cat and looked at me the way a cat looks at a bird. (171)

They have an ancient proverb reading Women and Cats. It means: “Women and Cats do as they please, and men and dogs might as well relax to it.” (175)

“One cannot ride a cat…nor hurry a snail…nor teach a snake to fly. Nor make a poodle of a Hero.” (195)

Farnham’s Freehold

The named cat in this one is Dr.-Livingston-I-Presume.

“Dr.-Livingston-I-Presume is our cat. Loves Joseph, tolerates us.” … “I’ll use a couple, so he can hear me draw them. That cat may be a mile away.” (12)

A lordly red Persian cat jumped out of Joseph’s arms, started an inspection. (13)

Joseph was on the floor with his back to the wall, the cat in his lap. (19)

No pets, thank God—and I was so pleased that Joe saved his cat. (25)

“How did a cat get a name like that?”
“Karen. Because he’s a great explorer. That cat can get into anything. Do you like cats?”
“I don’t know much about them. But Dr. Livingstone is a beauty.”
“So he is but I like all cats. You don’t own a cat, he is a free citizen. Take dogs; dogs are friendly and fun and loyal. But slaves. Not their fault, they’ve been bred for it. But slavery makes me queasy, even in animals.” (26)

“The cat? Is he all right?” (34)

“I wasn’t much help,” she announced, “because somebody has to hang onto this damn cat. He wants to help.” (36)

“Don’t forget that the cat has to have water.” (39)

Dr.-Livingstone-I-Presume came bounding up to tag Hugh on the ankle and dash away. Obviously the Persian gave the place full approval; it was just right for cats. (44-45)

“Joe, better keep the cat in at night, and try to keep him close in the daytime.” (62)

You have two minutes to say good-bye to Dr. Livingstone. But leave the cat here; I don’t want it eaten. (65)

He looked down at the cat and stroked it, then answered in a low voice, “I would like to stay. I agree.” (65)

Hugh made a note that he must devise a bearproof—and catproof—grille in place of the cover. (67)

T. S. Eliot’s The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (68)

“He won’t eat it,” Joe assured her, “unless it’s good for him. Cats are fussy.” (77)

Or wolves, or coyotes, or mountain lions, or a cat which Duke says is a mutated leopard and especially dangerous because it attacks by dropping out of a tree. (81)

“Barbara, Dr. Livingstone isn’t as much of a boy cat as he thinks he is. Old Doe is more a girl-type cat.”(89)

[Discussion regarding Dr. Livingstone’s sex] (89-90)

[Dr. Livingstone births a litter] (99-102)

The bed was padded with a grass mattress and a bear rug; a calico cat was on it. (105)

A cat jumped up, landing on Karen. “Unh! Damn you, Maggie!”
“Joe,” said Hugh, “round up the cats and put them in Coventry.” The tunnel mouth had been bricked up, but with air holes, and a cat door which could be filled with a large brick. The cats had a low opinion of this but it had been built after Happy New Year had become missing and presumed dead. (106)

“Hurry up; they’re about to bathe her. And grab Joe; he’s incarcerating cats. They’ll want us out of the way.” (107)

Joe was behind them, rather buried in cats. (130)

“I am well. ‘Ponse’?” Hugh scratched the cat’s ears. (139)

Hugh did not object to a new testament; there had been time for a new revelation and religions had them as naturally as a cat has kittens. (167)

The Lord Protector did not seem to care how Hugh smelled; he let him wait while he did something else. Hugh stood in silence… although Grace was present. She was lounging on a divan, playing with cats and chewing gum. She glanced at Hugh, then ignored him, save that her face took on a secret smile that Hugh knew well- He called it “canary that ate the cat.”
Dr.-Livingstone-I-Presume greeted Hugh, jumping down, coming over and rubbing against his ankles. Hugh knew that he should ignore it, wait for the lord to recognize his presence-but this cat had been his friend a long time; he could not snub it. He bent down and stroked the cat. (169)

It seemed to Hugh that Their Charity was honestly fond of Barbara, as fond as he was of the cat he called “Doklivstnipsoom”-never “Doc.” Ponse extended to cats the courtesy due equals, and Doc, or any cat, was free to jump into his lap even when he was bidding a hand. (188)

[“fat cat” references] (191-192)

Treated her just like one of the cats. (209)

Hugh saw that it was a white mouse. He felt sudden sympathy for the mouse. It didn’t seem to like where it was, but if it did manage to escape, the cats would get it. (234)

Their Charity said, “Hughie, I told you to stop teasing that cat. It will scratch you.” (239)

The end carton was not empty. Mama cat, quite used to strangers, stared solemnly out at him while four assorted fuzzy ones nursed. Hugh returned her stare.
Hesuddenlyclosedthetopofthecartonoverher.“Allright,”hesaid.“LoadsomethinglightintoanothercartonsoitweighsthisonedownwhileIdrive.Hurry.”Herushedouttothecar withthelittlefamilywhilethemothercatsetupagonizedcomplaint.
Barbara followed quickly with a half-loaded carton, put it on top of the cat box. (256)

Cartons were carried in, two cartons were dumped and a twin placed in each, with a carton of cat and kittens just beyond and all three weighted down to insure temporary captivity. (257)

“I think I know a place where we can go down, and save us, and maybe the cats but not the cow and calf, even if smoke gets pulled in.” (258)

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

This is the poster child for my argument on qualifying a story based on Type 2 references, so yes.

Is a virus self-aware? Nyet. How about oyster? I doubt it. A cat? Almost certainly. A human? Don’t know about you, tovarishch, but I am. (3-4)

They whistled for him. A fine idea, I thought, but who bells cat? (17)

Nurse came back in, indignant as a mother cat. “Lord Stuart you must let my patient rest!” (178)

Then they were loaded with energizers, don’t-worries, and fear inhibitors that would make mouse spit at cat, and turned loose. They fought professionally and quite fearlessly—died. (253)

I was with them part time, in and out, nervous as a cat with puppies, grabbing a sandwich and forgetting to eat—but mostly stayed locked in with Mike in Complex Under. (268)

I Will Fear No Evil

In addition to plenty of Type 1 and Type 2 references, “Tom Cat,” “Pussy Cat” and “Thomas Cattus” are used as pet names throughout the story, and Pussy Cat is used as a boat name in the latter part of the book. The clincher is when one character asks another if they like cats, and the reply is: “Love ‘em! Got a kitten promised now.” This kicks off a brief discussion about living with cats.

Ah, yes, she was the cat’s pajamas! (48)

“No criticism, none. But now that the cat is out of the bag, please ask the nurse to show me what I look like. I’m curious.” (70)

(Meeow! Shut up, pussy cat.) (Wasn’t being catty, Boss. She does well, in spite of those godawful uniforms.) (78)

Joe is a tomcat always ready to yowl, and wonderful at it. (94)

(I think we had better reach that pot pronto before we have to blame it on the cat. We crawl.) (101)

“Yes, yes, surely—but there are more ways of killing a cat than buttering it with parsnips.” (149)

“She’s as female as a cat in heat—and you’re an old bull, Jake, and dominant, and if you wanted to take Winnie, she wouldn’t put up more than token resistance.” (172-173)

“A multimillionaire who is young and female stands as much chance of getting a good husband as that well-known tissue-paper dog had of chasing that asbestos cat through Hell.” (178)

I slept like a baby and feel ready to fight wildcats—thanks to you and Winnie. (207)

Like a cat covering up on linoleum. (209)

(…You may even recall it … it was the day Joe painted me with tiger stripes and a cat’s face makeup.)
(Be darned if I don’t! You were bouncy as a kitten—and I said you looked like the cat who ate the canary.…) (248)

What do we pay taxes for when just a student can half kill me like I was a dog or a cat or something they’re always cutting up behind locked doors like they say on teevee? (322)

“Do you like cats?”
“Love ‘em! Got a kitten promised now.”
“Good. Now tell me—how do you get rid of a cat you’ve raised?”
“Huh? Why, you don’t. Not if you’re decent.”
“I agree, Gigi. I’ve lived with many cats. You keep them. If you are forced to it, you have a cat humanely destroyed—or if you have the guts, you kill it yourself so that it won’t be bungled. But you don’t give away a grown cat; it is almost impossible. But, Gigi, you can’t kill people.”
“I don’t understand, Joan.”
“What would I do with Hugo? He’s been with me many years; he’s doing the only thing he knows how to do—except preach, which doesn’t really pay. Gigi, loyal servants are ‘Chinese obligations’ just like a cat. Sure, they can get other jobs. But what would you do if Joe told you, ‘Get lost. We’re finished.’” (336)

Jake, I’m as happy as a cat left alone with the Christmas turkey. (350)

(Now kick him in the other shin, Boss. You little hellcat.) (351)

(Twin, ‘Here Comes the Bride’ always sounds to me like a cat sneaking up on a bird.…) (356)

Nothing wrong with the individual in most cases—but collectively we’re the Kilkenny Cats, unable to do anything but starve and fight and eat each other. (368)

Boss, if you didn’t have me to keep you straight, you’d be as filled with vapors as a cat trying to have kittens in a wastebasket! (370)

Joe and I, we aren’t fish—we’re alley cats. (387)

If you have the nerve of a mouse, little alley cat from the big city, you’ll bolt the door and tell him good-bye properly. (388)

Jake knew all along about your tomcatting with me. (397)

Time Enough for Love

Cat references abound, and in at least two of the stories Lazarus Long tells, cats make up part of the family.

“All right, set it up for stray cats or some other useless but legally acceptable purpose.” (47)

Moves like a cat—no bones, just flows. (64)

“She’s as female as a cat in heat.” (96)

It’s just that she’s like a cat that jumps into your lap the instant you sit down. (104)

“Oh, I forgot to mention an old tomcat who thinks he owns the place. But you probably won’t see him; he hates most people.”
“I won’t bother him if he wants to be left alone; cats make good neighbors.” (108-109)

There are several created females in the building you are in-dogs, cats, one sow, others-and most of them have littered successfully… (115)

It’s like the purring of a cat; it just means that I’m functioning okay, board all green, operating at normal cruising. (141)

“You will have two to five minutes’ warning-unless El Diablo jumps on his stomach.”
“That damned cat. But being wakened that way doesn’t depress him; it’s his suicidal nightmares that worry me.…” (150-151)

But possibly you don’t know that cash money affects some people the way catnip does Diablo. (175)

Nevertheless, once you pick up a stray cat and feed it, you cannot abandon it. Self-love forbids it. The cat’s welfare becomes essential to your own peace of mind-even when it’s a bloody nuisance not to break faith with the cat. Having bought these kids I could not shuck them off by manumission; I had to plan their future because they did not know how. They were stray cats. (180)

Willing to compete, undismayed by it—He was just beginning to see the size of the “stray cat” problem he had taken on. (182)

An adult who died saving its progeny had to be counted a prosurvival whereas a cat that ate her own young was contrasurvival no matter how long she lived. (196)

But, had I been able to get her to agree on the base amount and forget compound interest, they would still have a nice chunk of capital to expand again- and if it took giving the smaller sum to orphaned spacemen or spacemen’s orphans or indignant cats to make them feel proud, I could understand how it would be a bargain in their eyes. (219)

But this is merely a stopgap, like not leaving the cat alone with the roast. (235)

Besides sixteen mules, the little party included a German shepherd bitch and a younger dog, two female cats and a tom, a fresh milch goat with two kids and a young buck, two cocks and six hens of the hardy. (291)

The cats did as they pleased, as cats do, walking or riding as suited them. (292)

And the cats—cats don’t take much. (307)

It was nearly sundown when Dora and I and the dogs got back to the wagons, almost full dark as we finished watering goats and sow and cats and chickens. (310)

Our kids breed like cats. And so do their kids. (348)

Never tryto outstubborn a cat. (354)

All cats are not gray after midnight. Endless variety— (356)

Minerva smiled quickly, went into his arms, flowed up against him like a cat, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth. (364)

As futile as a cat covering up on a tile floor. (416)

That she was, I mean, for she came out of the bushes looking as smug as a cat. (445)

To begin with, they have been neither hairy nor scary, I’ve been careful to attract no attention, as retiring as a mouse at a cat show. (463-464)

Gramp could smell a mouse farther than a cat could (479)

Let’s haul it out into the middle of the floor and let the cat sniff it. (491)

Maureen my love, that’s putting the cat too close to the canary! (532)

Of which we have plenty. And cats and dogs and anything a child can pet and take care of. It’s a real family in a house to fit a big family. (559)

Galahad is the original tireless tomcat. (561)

I’m the wary old cat who always has a tree within reach. (562)

The Number of the Beast

In the Wizard of Oz world, the main characters meet “a beautiful long-haired cat with supercilious manners.”

I have a strong body odor that calls for at least one sudsy bath a day, two if I am going out that evening—and this morning I was certainly whiff as a polecat. (26)

I started to cat-foot through our bedroom when I noticed Zebadiah’s clothes—and stopped. (28)

I’ll use a kitchen chair in one hand, a revolver in the second, and a whip in the other, just as I used to do in handling the big cats for Ringling, Barnum, and Bailey. (45)

Zebadiah stood back, went into hanging guard, made fast moulinets vertically, left and right, then horizontally clockwise and counterclockwise—suddenly dropped into swordsman’s guard—lunged and recovered, fast as a striking cat. (70)

A fully developed uterus, two-horned like a cat, one ovary above each horn. (93)

Assume that I take off no time for eating, sleeping, or teasing the cat, how much time can I spend in each universe? (144)

As we leaned over, Deety stretched high, catlike, to shoot between our pilots. (215)

Pop climbed in, indignant as an offended cat. (262)

“Where Cat is, is civilization.” (325)

Dinner was in the banquet hail and the crowd of guests exactly filled itGlinda’s banquet hall is always the right size for the number of persons eating there-or not eating, as the case may be, for Jack Pumpkinhead, Tik-Tok, the Tin Woodman, the Sawhorse, the Scarecrow, and other people who don’t eat were seated there, too, and also people who aren’t human people: the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, the Woozy, the King of the Flying Monkeys, Hank, Toto, and a beautiful long-haired cat with supercilious manners. (329)

The Cowardly Lion and I had just started seafood cocktails when this cat brushed against my leg to get my attention, looked up and said, “You smell like a cat person. Make a lap, I’m coming up”—and jumped. (330)

Ignore these jungle beasts; they are not cats.… As my serene ancestress, Bubastis, Goddess of the Nile, was wont to say: ‘Where Cat is, is civilization.’ (330)

A mouse at a cat show is justified in being inconspicuous; so are we. (373)

“A cat can be caught in almost anytrap once—” (406)

A cat can be caught in almost anytrap once; but that cat will not be caught in the same trap twice. (414)

I’ve lived along time in part by being a cat not caught in the same trap twice—as she had underlined. (427)

I made note to ask her about it later-then I remembered what the mouse told the cat and decided not to. (445)

She’s a cat; pet her and respect her feelings and she purrs—push her and she scratches. (460)

They won’t starve; their commissary is by the Kilkenny Cats method. (497)


Mr. Underfoot, Mama Cat and her kittens are all part of the story.

The very first day I was there I made us all late for tea by rolling on the floor with seven youngsters ranging from eleven down to a nappy-wetter plus two or three dogs and a young tomcat who had earned the name Mister Underfoot through his unusual talent for occupying all of a large floor. (40)

Do it like a cat, with blood and pain fer Gossake? (42)

Mister Underfoot, a gangly young cat when I first met him, waited for opportunity to greet me with dignity befitting his status as senior cat, elderly, fat, and slow. (46)

“Certainly. Are you and Ian cat people?”
“I wouldn’t attempt to keep house without one. In fact just now I can offer you a real bargain in kittens.” (75)

Georges showed up with the exact timing of a cat—Mama Cat in this case, who arrived following Georges ahead of him. Kittens were then excluded by Janet’s edict because she was too busy to keep from stepping on kittens. (81)

If you think you are imposing, you can contribute to BritCan Red Cross. Or to a home for indignant cats. (83)

A bit like being covered up by a cat! (88)

Mama Cat and her kittens. (114)

Sex, but not like anything I had ever felt before even though I’m rutty as a cat. (125)

I don’t want to take Georges away from Janet…but I look forward to happy visits and, if he ever does elect to reverse my sterility, doing it like a cat might be all right to make a baby for Georges—I cannot see why Janet has not done so. (127)

Would you expect a cat to vote? (141)

What was done with the cats?
He looked about to explode. “Marjorie, are you utterly heartless? When your acts have caused so much pain, so much real tragedy, you want to know about something as trivial as cats?” (193)

I confess to liking dogs and cats better than most people; they never hold it against me that I’m not human. (195)

Four horses, a cat and five kittens, a pig, maybe other animals? (225)

Swelp me, had Goldie been male, I would have had my sterility reversed and happily have raised children and sweet peas and cats. (257)

Miss Friday, you’re a wildcat. (294)

After we ground they are going to have to open a door, either a people door or a big cargo door; I don’t care which, `cause when they do, I go out of here like a frightened cat, running roughshod over anything or anybody in my way. (322-323)

So I wound up carrying a cat’s travel cage—Mama Cat. (325)

Job: A Comedy of Justice

One of the characters mentions taking cats (and other animals) to a vet named Dr. Simmons back in the day. Thin, but it counts.

He’s playing with me, cat and mouse. (70)

Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there. (192)

When the cat is away, the mice will play. (200)

Let’s call in the press. All of the press, not just the tame cats. (204)

If you can’t make ‘em sweat, if they don’t break out in their own musk like a cat in rut, you might as well quit and go across the street to the papists. (216)

A game. Cat and mouse. (266)

She did not seem to mind being captive; she leaned against me like a cat. (285)

He looked like a twin brother of Dr Simmons, the vet back home in Kansas to whom I used to take cats and dogs, and once, a turtle (290)

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

Not even gonna bother looking at references in this one. There be cats.

To Sail Beyond the Sunset

First line:

I woke up in bed with a man and a cat. The man was a stranger; the cat was not. (1)

For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs

Only one reference to a cat, but it’s a Type 3, so it counts!

They were interrupted by the appearance of a large grey cat who walked out to the middle of the floor, calmly took possession, sat down, curled his tail carefully around him, and mewed loudly. (22)

Variable Star

I’m counting this because of the cat-and-toast story.

Somehow, an organic brain was able—some organic brains were able—to ensure that every time Doc Schrodinger opened his box, what came out was a live cat. Even if none had been in there to start with.

A cat danced with a fire extinguisher.

He was gone like the Cheshire Cat, leaving behind only a ghost of his dopey grin.

They strap toast onto a cat’s back and toss it in the air.… “Ah. Of course. The toast must fall butter side down—”
“—but the cat must land on its feet.”

Maybe I’m like a cat trying to understand exactly how the fish get into those little cans, or a man trying to understand women: unequipped.

Even after we got bright enough to go out and look for ourselves, more than a dozen times in a row we found whole star systems containing nothing more complicated than a cat.

The Results!

With the data presented above, here are the results:

Cats No Cats
28 6

Of the six with no cats, only one had no use of the word “cat” in any form (Orphans of the Sky); the others all had at least one Type 1 reference.

Anyone who wants to look through the short stories is welcome to do so.

Now, maybe I should go read one of these…