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Cat is a current crew member of the JMC mining ship Red Dwarf. Originally believed to be the last known member of his species, Felis sapiens, he is the result of three million years of evolution. Cat shows many feline traits such as total self-centeredness and vanity, but to an extent learns to bond with his crew mates becoming a valued member of the Dwarfer posse.
The character has no name other than "The Cat" (used in the third person) or simply "Cat" when spoken to directly. In the first Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, it is explained that Cat does have a name, but he figures he is the centre of the universe and if they don't already know his name he's not going to tell them (in the failed American pilot episode, his real name is stated as being Woo-fen, although of course this is not canon).
Cat is a Felis sapiens, a humanoid descendant of a modern domestic cat called Frankenstein who had been Dave Lister's pregnant pet cat. His species expanded and evolved into a humanoid form over three million years while sealed in the cargo hold of Red Dwarf while Dave Lister was in suspended animation.
It appears that Cat was mainly raised by a blind Cat Priest in Supply Pipe 28, though a brief mention is made of Cat's mother in the original novel, when a young Cat tried to sleep with her and she attacked him. The Cat Priest described Cat's parents as the Idiot and the Cripple.
Over three decades later when Cat met his own people, his brother Rodon would tell him that he was left behind on Red Dwarf because he wasn't "cool" enough, explaining Cat's lifelong obsession with being "cool". However, hearing this from Rodon makes Cat realise that Red Dwarf is his home and the Dwarfers are his family.
One of the Boys from the Dwarf
In early episodes, Cat exhibits typical feline behaviours such as sleeping, eating vast amounts of food, playing with 'shiny things', preening and marking his territory, for which purpose he carries a small spray-can, of which the contents are unknown (possibly urine, seeing as this is how cats mark their territory), in his pocket. While scent-marking, he repeats, "This is mine, this is mine, and all of this is mine". His most cherished hobby is fashion, owning and designing thousands of flamboyant suits. His extreme self-confidence results in him thinking himself to be irresistible to women, without ever having met any. He is originally very self-centred, and in human terms, narcissistic, showing no concern for his crew mates or others, as when he shows no concern when his old mentor the "Cat Priest" dies, giving Kryten an earring which he hates on the day before his automatic self-destruct and choosing to finish his lunch rather than carry Lister to the medical bay when he collapses.
In the episode "Stasis Leak", the crew discover a portal, referred to as a "Magic door" by Cat, which allows them to go back before the crew are wiped out, he sees actual human females, and remarks "They make me want to do something. I don't know what it is! Whatever it is, I wanna do it a lot of it!", showing Cat's deluded image as a sex god. By Series IV, Cat becomes less obsessed with mating, and begins to develop a friendship with Dave Lister — possibly due to their mutual contempt for Rimmer. Cat was surprisingly willing to teach others of his people's culture. He taught Lister how to read cat novels using his nose, the religion of the cats and would share so-called wise cat sayings. He also vaguely taught Lister the meaning of the cat word JOZXYQK, which is a sound that is made when one's sexual organs are trapped in something, during a game of "Scrabble" However, this may have been an attempt to cheat.
As he learns to relate to the crew, Cat gradually acts more human-like, and even begins to show genuine concern for others on several occasions. He becomes a highly valued member of the crew and develops a friendship with both Lister and Kryten. He becomes a skilled pilot of Starbug and develops an ability to "smell" danger, even in space — although he does not grasp scientific terms, describing anomalies as either "wibbly thing" or "swirly thing". Also, when a complicated issue arises or a strange anomaly is encountered, he is commonly known to pose the question, "What is it?", usually until the various explanations he is given make sense to him. His escape plans are almost always fashioned out of fantasy, and are generally reliant on objects that the crew either do not possess or are non-existent anyway for success. On an occasion when the crew finally does go with one of his plans, the Cat questions their sanity for heeding his own advice, remarking, "What if we all get killed? I'll never hear the last of it!"
In "Out of Time", it is implied that he has at some point in his life taken Catnip as after going through a few unreality bubbles, he says "Boy, this is worse than triple-strength catnip", hinting that for Felis sapiens, it has narcotic effects.
Cat's role on the ship during the first few series was basically non-existent, often skulking around the ship praising himself, looking for food and claiming everything he saw as his own. As the crew's situation got more tense, and they started to act more seriously as a result; Cat became the main pilot and co-navigator of Starbug, using his heightened reflexes and senses to detect danger and navigate the Bug.
When described by Arnold Rimmer as being "flees at the first sign of danger, only out for number one, vain, narcissistic, self-obsessed," Cat said those were his "best features". As described in the novel, his psyche is purely id and ego without a trace of super ego. He acts similar to a domesticated cat. As a humanoid cat, he exhibits the qualities of coolness, vanity, and aloofness. His least coolest moment in his life according to him was his toilet break on backwards Earth. He loves to dress well in extravagant clothing, and to dance and scream like the soul artist James Brown. He often carries a mirror and is meticulous about his appearance. His first words in the pilot episode are: "How am I looking? I'm looking nice!" He rarely calls his crew mates by name, preferring to call Kryten "Novelty Condom Head" or "Half-Eaten Lollipop Head"; Rimmer "Non-Bud", "Goalpost Head", "Alphabet Head", or "Trans-Am Wheel Arch Nostrils"; Lister "Buddy", "You Stupid Monkey", "Dormouse Cheeks" or "Gerbil-Face"; and Kochanski "Officer Bud-Babe" ("Officer BB" for short). Despite his contempt for Rimmer, he greatly admires Ace Rimmer, partly due to Ace's generous compliments on the Cat's fashion sense. However, he does seem to have some affection for his crew mates, calling them "buddies".
He takes particular pleasure in using the food synthesizer to get fish dinners, at one point standing in front of it repeating the word "fish" six times as the machine cranks out meal after meal, much to his obvious delight. As mentioned, he is obsessed with looking good and preening, and in his early days, enjoyed playing with shiny things.
In the Series IV episode "Camille", he sees Camille as himself (he is the object of his own desire). When Camille asked him if there was anyone more deserving, he replies "Now that you put it like that, I guess you're right, damn my vanity!" In the Series X episode "Entangled" the Cat is shown to still be afflicted by the primal urge to hunt, running and jumping through the halls of Red Dwarf in pursuit of an illusive Space Weevil. In the series finale episode "The Beginning" he is also shown to be surprisingly astute and sensitive when it comes to other peoples problems, despite his often apparent aloofness.
In the Series XII opener "Cured", due to being self-centred, vain, aloof and having a lack of empathy, Cat registers as a psychopath, although "not the type that kills", at least according to Lister. This would be inaccurate, since these traits seem to be normal in cats, and the term "psychopath" is applied to humans only.
In the Series XII episode "Mechocracy", Cat begins to wear a pair of reading glasses he has discovered and starts to read a large number of books. He quickly starts to become more intelligent, proving that he is capable of a higher level of intelligence than previously thought. However Cat eventually destroys the reading glasses in a blender since he would rather "look cool" than continue reading.
Cat has an alternate version of himself in an opposite universe called The Dog, evolving from dogs rather than cats. Among his other alter egos is the "Duke of Dork", Duane Dibbley, who represents the 'nerd' stereotype and Cat's idea of a meaningless existence. In the episode "Demons and Angels", Cat's High and Low sides are seen, his good side being a highly religious type residing in a hooded robe and sandals, whilst explaining to the normal Cat that he is his higher self, his spiritual side, extrapolated from his being. The normal Cat, totally unimpressed, replies "Extrapa"what"elated, buddy, there is no way you are a part of me, no part of me would ever be seen alive in sandals." This version is eventually shot at and blown up with the "divine" Kryten when they believe that a bomb thrown from the "Low" versions of the crew is a greetings gift. The Low version is more savage and gangster-like than either of the other Cats, notably he has no fashion sense being nearly dressed in nothing but rags, furs and black leather. His teeth have grown way out of proportion, making him more like a "Sabre-toothed cat". This version was destroyed when the two new Red Dwarfs regenerate into the old one.
An alternative Cat is briefly encountered when the Dwarfers meet themselves from an alternative timeline and are joined by Kristine Kochanski. This Cat seems far more upper-class and subdued in appearance, in line with Kochanski's nature. The Cat's mirror opposite is also encountered in the mirror universe (Series VIII episode "Only the Good..."), a wise professor who finds it ridiculously easy to pronounce profoundly long words, e.g., Cesiumfranciolithicmyxialobidiumrixydixydoxidrexidroxhide. This version of the Cat is more intelligent than both the original Cat and Duane Dibbley. In 'Ace' Rimmer's universe (series IV episode "Dimension Jump"), the Cat is the base priest. This Cat smokes a pipe and congratulates Ace Rimmer on helping a sick boy recover.
In the Series X episode "Entangled", Cat is shown to still be afflicted by the primal urge to hunt, running and jumping through the halls of Red Dwarf in pursuit of an illusive Space Weevil. In the series finale episode "The Beginning" he is also shown to be surprisingly astute and sensitive when it comes to to other people's problems, despite his often apparent aloofness.
Despite his somewhat scattered personality, the Cat is a very capable pilot of Starbug. He has an extremely powerful sense of smell, or at least intuition, as he can detect objects and crafts using his nose. Being a Cat, he created all of his clothes and suits, an impressive ability due to the sheer volume of his wardrobe. His feline biology gives him immense speed and he can outrun laser bolts. He is also a good marksman. Although he has trouble with scientific jargon, he can at least show an understanding of certain concepts, albeit in a childlike manner.
- "No, mine! The fish is mine!"
- "OK, I say we put on the jet-powered rocket-pants and Junior Birdman the hell outta here!"
- "Too slow, chicken marengo! Too slow for this cat."
- "How am I lookin'? Good! I'm lookin' nice, My hair is nice; My suit is nice; I'm looking really nice."
- "Hey, this has been a good day. I've eaten five times, I've slept six times, and I've made a lot of things mine. Tomorrow, I'm gonna see if I can't have sex with something."
- "You'd never get a cat to be a servant. You ever see a cat return a stick? (To an imaginary stick-thrower) Hey, man! You threw the stick -- you go get it, yourself! I'm busy! If you wanted the stick so bad, why'd you throw it away in the first place?"
- "Am I right in thinking I could get a nuclear explosion all over this suit? Because I'm telling you guys that stuff does not dry clean."
- "Let's get out of here. I badly need to floss a piece of roasted dead person out of my teeth!"
- "I'm gonna eat you, little fishy"
- "Damn! I look good!"
- "150 pelvic thrusts per second? That's me in slow-mo - put a Black and Decker drill on the end and I can make it through walls, boy!"
Behind the Scenes
- Danny John-Jules, a professional dancer before turning to acting, got the role of Cat when he turned up for the audition half an hour late, in a garish, outlandish suit. One could say he was already in character.
- Cat is merely the name given to him by Lister, when addressed to directly, and Cat has never revealed his true Felis sapiens name. In the first Red Dwarf novel, Cat says that, as the centre of the universe, the others should already know his name, and so he isn't going to tell them. In the non-canon failed American pilot, his name was given as "Woo-fen".
- A deleted scene in the Series VI episode "Emohawk" reveals that Cat's age is 33.
- Strangely, his species has evolved to lose the night vision aspect of a cat, meaning he lacks this ability as shown in the episode "Samsara". However this may be due to declining eyesight due to age, as seen in "Mechocracy"