Tongue Tied

Felis sapiens are a sentient humanoid species in the Red Dwarf franchise.

The species has gone by a number of different names; they were designated Felix sapiens by Hudzen-10 (in the Series V episode "The Last Day"), and given the ancestor species Felis erectus (in the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers). The television series generally refers to them simply as Cats.

The species are all originally descended from a single pregnant domestic cat of Earth origin, named Frankenstein, a pregnant pet cat of Dave Lister which he bought for companionship after breaking up with Kristine Kochanski. In the novels, Lister purchased Frankenstein on Mimas, whilst in the television series, this was said to be Titan.

After the radiation leak which killed the crew of Red Dwarf, Frankenstein's litter bred, safely sealed in the hold, and evolved to a humanoid form - much like humans did from apes - over three million years, sped up by traces of the radiation. Nearly all of them left Red Dwarf in the Cat Arks, a decade or so before Lister came out of stasis.

One cat, simply known as "Cat," is one of the main characters in Red Dwarf. Since this Cat is the best known Cat, the information below is derived from his behaviour and lifestyle, and may not be a true representation of his race.


In the first episode, Dave Lister deliberately brings an un-quarantined pregnant cat named 'Frankenstein' aboard Red Dwarf. Lister is placed in Suspended Animation and Frankenstein is sealed into the ship's hold. During the three million years Lister is in suspended animation, Frankenstein gave birth to kittens. The cats breed and evolve, walking on hind legs in their search for food; these were the Felis erectus, and ending up as a species similar to humans, known as Felis sapiens. Their evolution is very similar to the evolution of man, yet more fashion-conscious. This is explainable due to the selective pressures of the human designed environment in which they developed; everything they encountered was designed for humanoid use, including tools and supply crates.


Felis sapiens look very much like humans. The most obvious differences are the teeth, or fangs, with oversized upper canines which are more like those of a carnivore than an omnivore. Although they appear to have no problem eating vegetable matter, they seem to have a preference for meat and cat food. Their favourite foods are fish such as Trout a la Creme and cereals such as Krispies. When they are threatened or getting aggressive, sharp claws can extend from their knuckles.

Felis sapiens have darker colouring around the cheeks, and as with the Cat Priest who had a black hand a white hand, they may be asymmetrically-coloured. They also have six nipples.

Internally, a Cat is characterized by colour-coordinated organs, a decorated stomach wall, and a heartbeat that sounds "cooler" than a human's ("Back in the Red"). Cats are capable of speech, can learn languages from other species and have a level of intelligence comparable with that of a human. The most important difference between Cats and humans is an advanced sense of smell, which is incorporated into their culture since they 'read' their books by the smells in them. Their sense of smell is so strong that they can even smell objects in space through a spaceship wall from a distance, through vibrations ("Legion", "Ouroboros"). The episode "Samsara" reveals that due to evolution, Felis sapiens, unlike their domestic cat ancestors, surprisingly don't possess any exceptional ability to see in the dark. However the events of "Mechocracy" would seem to suggest that this poor eyesight is due to Cat's advancing years.

In the first novel, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Cats are described as less human-like and more cat-like; they have slimmer faces, a narrow, flat nose, larger eyes and ears which are higher on the head. In the fourth novel, Backwards, Cat's penis is covered in sharp and painful hooks (as is a real cat's). Young Cats are referred to as Kittens, as Cat mentioned learning about Frankenstein from Kitty School.

According to the unproduced episode "Identity Within", if Cats do not have sex by a certain age, they die. However, since this episode is non-canon, it is unclear whether this is accurate. The events of the episode "Can of Worms", where Cat is revealed to be a virgin, would seem to refute it.

Culture, Religion and History

In the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister and Rimmer find Cat deep in the bowels of Red Dwarf, where there is virtually no light. Lister sees the ruins of a Cat village, with the houses wooden and igloo-like. The greatest discovery of the Cats has been the can opener, which allowed them to open the mountains of tins in the storage bay and stave off starvation, allowing the species to endure. They used a massive vat of construction sand in Cargo Bay 12 as a giant litter tray. From this eventually emerged the Fecal Beast. ("Scoop of the Century", Red Dwarf webcomic)

Lister pretends to be Cloister for the Cat Priest. "It is I, Cloister!"

Cat culture is strongly dependent on their religion, believing that a god known as Cloister the Stupid will lead them to the promised land, Fuchal (pronounced "Fyooshal"), where they would open a Temple of Food. In the original novels, the promised land is named "Bearth" for Earth, rather than "Fuchal" for Fiji. Cloister is said to be the father of the Cat people. He is reported to have lived years ago, at the Beginning, and was willingly "frozen in time" so the Cat race could exist. This religious dogma parallels the true story, and Cloister is in fact Dave Lister. A religious conflict erupted due to differing interpretations of dogma; in the original novels, this was over the name of God (Cloister/Clister), whereas the television series had the war concerning the colour (red or blue) of the hats that the people who served at the Temple of Food were to wear (according to Lister, the hats were actually supposed to be green). One of the most notorious goofs of the television series is that the painting of the holy war depicts both sides wearing the same colour hat, although in the re-mastered version, this was corrected.

Three Cat Clerics

In both continuities, the war raged for thousands of years and most of the Felis sapiens population was killed in the fighting. A truce was called, and each faction built a spacecraft known as a Cat Ark and left Red Dwarf in search of Fuchal. In the television series, the faction who believed the hats should be blue followed a sacred writing of Cloister (actually Lister's laundry list), which they had interpreted as a star chart, and immediately flew into an asteroid. It is not known what became of the second spacecraft, although the Holoship seems to have encountered it at some point, since its scout aboard Starbug recognises Cat and declares there is no value in "further study of this species." In either case, only the healthy Cats left Red Dwarf; the maimed, deformed and insane were left behind, eventually dying until only Cat was left.

Holy wars

In the original episodes, the last remaining Cat Priest inhabiting Supply Pipe 28 was able to provide further insight into the nature of the Cat religion. He tells Lister that he sublimated his natural instincts to be neat, clean and well groomed, instead choosing to emulate Cloister, by "wearing the holy custard stains and the sacred gravy marks". There were also five sacred laws which they made up, only two of which are known: Lister mentioned that it was a sin "to be cool", and another involved sheep (he mentioned that he has broken all of the sacred laws other than that one). They also have a religious holiday called "Fuchal Day", on which any who didn't eat hot dogs that day were stoned to death with stale donuts.

The Cat race had Seven Cat Commandments. They are as follows:

  1. Thou shalt not be cool.
  2. Thou shalt not be in vain.
  3. Thou shalt not have more than ten suits.
  4. Thou shalt not partake of carnal knowledge with more than four members of the opposite sex at any one session.
  5. Thou shalt not slink.
  6. Thou shalt not hog the bathroom.
  7. Thou shalt not steal another's hair gel.

Cats found guilty of being vain were forced to wear fashion styles from the previous year.

Cat maintains that the Cat Commandments stretch back to a "Dark Age" of religious fanaticism, which explains why he hardly adheres to them.

The Cat race apparently had wise old people in its history who formulated several "wise old Cat sayings". These sayings range from the rather intelligent "It's better to live one hour as a tiger than a whole lifetime as a worm" to the not-so-brilliant "What are you talking about, dog-breath?" It is debatable whether this is an actual saying or simply an off-the-cuff remark, due to Cat only learning of dogs when Lister shows him a picture of his father.

Food (fish and birds in particular) is of central cultural and economic importance. Due to voracious consumption of food, having five fish is considered the equivalent of being a millionaire. Appreciation is shown to someone who gives them food by licking that person. In true feline fashion their food is given a chance to escape, which means they taunt it with a song. Whenever an unknown presence (including strange humans and humanoids) is met they make themselves look big by raising their arms above their head and pulling a snarling face. Cats also love what they call "shiny things" and will play with the object. Any attempt to take the "shiny thing" from a Cat may result in the offender being eaten (or threatened with such).

Like their ancestors, Cats enjoy chasing laser lights and can become engrossed. Whenever a Cat is anxious or upset, they may line up objects on a table and knock them off. On one Cat ship, giant cat flaps are installed and a Cat enters a room by crawling through it.

As a whole, Cats are extremely vain and love mirrors almost as much as their actual selves. In fact, they are so self-centred that if they had to give someone a present, it would most likely be a belonging of their own which they hate and want to get rid of.

A Cat relationship lasts for three minutes, and they do not refer to each other by name at any time, preferring to say "Hey you!" In whole, the concept of names seem to elude Cats, as they are egocentric enough to believe that everyone knows them because of their supposed perfection. Cat, when socialising with the Red Dwarf crew, hardly ever calls them by name, instead using mocking nicknames based on their appearance. However, deep down he does consider them friends, calling them "buddies".

In one parallel universe, Cats may not exist. Rather, a race of creatures evolved from dogs exists instead. Unlike the Cats, Dogs are very smelly and dirty and hate baths. They offer their bottoms for strangers to smell and are terrible dancers. However since the Red Dwarf crew met their female opposites in this universe, a Cat race may have evolved in another part of the universe, or indeed Earth.


Cats enjoy wearing flamboyant, colourful suits and may own several hundred suits. The Cat race developed the trouser press before the wheel. Cats launder their clothing by licking it, as a house cat would; he merely sprays his tongue with detergent first. They seem to need at least five or six showers daily and nine or ten snooze breaks every day, to save energy for his main evening sleep. In a piece of dialogue omitted from the final cut of "Confidence and Paranoia", Rimmer asks Cat if the Cat-people ever invented the washing machine to which Cat replies, "Washing machine? Oh, you mean that big box with the huge electrical tongue in it? Sure we did, grease stain."

Whenever a Cat enters unfamiliar surroundings, he removes a small spray can from his lapel and begins spraying objects, reciting all the while, "This is mine, this is mine." This is apparently a technologically-based scent-marking of his territory; the exact contents of the can are unknown. Most of their other technology, particularly spacecraft, was stolen from the cargo hold of Red Dwarf. In particular, they depended on canned food for survival. In the novelizations, the first tool discovered by Cats is a can opener. The Cat race learned English by watching The Flintstones. They supposedly also have a spoken language: the only word known is JOZXYQK, meaning "the sound you make when you get your sexual organs trapped in something" (although it is strongly implied this is merely an attempt to cheat at a game of Scrabble). They use their scent to write books and have two hundred forty-six smell symbols in their lexicon which can be broken down into smaller smells which altered the meaning of the smell. Dave Lister's T-shirt contained a sentence about a fearful, very bad estate agent going to a noxious toilet. Lister can read a Cat-authored Dick and Jane early primer by strongly sniffing the pages, but relies on Holly to translate more complicated works, like the Cat Bible.

Red Dwarf the Roleplaying Game

In the Red Dwarf the Roleplaying Game, Felis sapiens (also known as Evolved Cats) are one of several known breeds of Evolved Animals that exist in the multiverse, and these are also playable races. See the Evolved Animals article for more.

Statistics wise, Evolved Cats have higher than human Agility and Perception, but lower than human Strength and Intelligence (7s and 5s compared to humanity's 6s, respectively). They receive an automatic point in both the Awareness and Athletics skills for free, but suffer a -2 penalty to Empathy checks due to their instinctively self-absorbed nature.

In the Roleplaying Game, the official fate of the two arks that left Red Dwarf is thus: the ark that hit an asteroid was destroyed, but the second ark eventually found (and crashlanded upon) a long-abandoned S3 world, near an ancient human colony. This world they have dubbed Fuchal, believing it to be the paradise foretold in their religion. However, not all is well on Fuchal; in the ruins of the human colony, they found 8 intact personality discs, and while there are no light-bees present to resurrect these individuals as holograms, they were able to revive them as electronic intelligences and communicate with them.

The Cats, believing that these recordings are angels of Cloister the Stupid, have since splintered into various social groups as the personality recordings each strive to manipulate the Felis sapiens for their own benefit. Right now, the largest and most prominent social group are those Cats aligned to the recording of Space Corps Commander Suzdal. Suzdalism is a violent, martial faith that teaches that Fuchal is a training ground for a holy battle at the beginning of time. Suzdal's growing population of fanatical, bloodthirsty and heavily armed followers believe that they must hone their skills as warriors to weed out the weak among their kind, so that they may then be sent back to the beginning of time to aid Cloister against evil. With their righteous help, Cloister shall win, and the universe will develop along its true and proper lines, becoming the paradise that Cloister originally intended it to be. It's unknown what Suzdal's real goal is, but his army is growing larger and stronger as he pushes weapons technology forward at the most furious pace.

The other seven personality recordings aren't officially described, better for games masters to develop them, but they are generally more peaceful than Suzdal. However, they are just as prone to squabbling and infighting, meaning that most of these other faiths simply content themselves to staying out of the way of the Suzdalites.

This growing religious conflict is actually beginning to alienate many Cats, it must be said, as it reminds them of the dark ages before they left Red Dwarf. There is a small but presumably growing underground movement seeking to build a new spaceship and leave this "false Fuchal" in search of the true paradise.

Notable Cats

The Cat Fleet upon which the species live a nomadic life (The Promised Land)

Unseen Cats

  • The Cripple was the name by which the Priest knew Cat's mother. She had been left behind when the cats built their arks and ventured into space. Mentioned in the Series I episode "Waiting for God", and the first Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers.
  • The Idiot was a mentally damaged Cat, a "jelly-brain" who ate his own feet. He was Cat's father, which Cat remarks explains a lot. Mentioned in the Series I episode "Waiting for God", and the first Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers.


  • Ora (or Aura) is a female Felis sapiens featured in the "lost episode" of the Series VII, "Identity Within".
  • Zural (or Zooral) is a male Felis sapiens featured in the "lost episode" of the seventh series, "Identity Within".


Television Series