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Purrfectly Fantastic: 8 of the Best Cats in Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels

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Alex Acks

Contributing Editor

Alex Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They've written for Six to Start and been published in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and more. Alex lives in Denver with their two furry little bastards, where they twirl their mustache, watch movies, and bike. Twitter: @katsudonburi Website:

8 of the Best Cats in Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels was originally published in our SFF newsletter, Swords and Spaceships. Sign up for it here to get SFF news, reviews, deals, and more!

Look, it’s been a week, and I’m mentally exhausted, so how about we just talk about some SFF books that have cats in them? Because I love cats, and cats are good. Even when they’re bad.

Speaking of cats, the SFF blog File 770 has an entire tag that’s nothing but sleepy cats in proximity to SFF novels.

Kafka on the Shore cover with a cat silhouette illustration

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

I don’t think I get to expound on my love for Haruki Murakami often enough in this space, since he’s often borderline as far as actually being SFF. There’s six cats in this book, and half the chapters are the story of a young man who can communicate with cats after being rendered unconscious as a child by a mysterious flash of light. So as an adult, he just finds lost cats.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

This is our first introduction to Greebo, who is most definitely the Best Worst Cat of all time. Greebo is to all appearances a foul-tempered, evil, one-eyed old tom cat, but Granny Weatherwax knows the truth: he is in fact a Good. A Very Good, really. Greebo is a recurring character in the Discworld series. As he should be.

The cover of Chilling Effect, including two cats in space wearing spacesuit helmets

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Captain Eva Innocente has to do a lot of really dangerous and unpleasant things to try to pay the ransom for her sister after she gets kidnapped by the shadowy syndicate known as the Fridge. One of these things involves a shipment of psychic cats. This goes just about as well as you think.

Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams

I honestly don’t go for animal POV books all that much — they’re just not really my thing — but I make an exception for this one. It’s from the viewpoint of feral cats, who have their own mythologies and legends and culture. And look, one of the cats is named Eatbugs.

The House In the Cerulean Sea cover, sadly with no cats on it

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

This book features a total cat diva named Calliope, the companion of one of the main characters, a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth.

Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is actually my absolute favorite of the Vorkosigan Saga novels for a number of reasons that I cannot get into without spoiling it. But I can say that this book also introduces a recurrent character: Zap the Cat, a stray that takes possession of Miles’s house because he makes the mistake of feeding her (he’s lonely and needs friends, so you can’t blame him) and goes on to have a lot of kittens over the rest of the series.

Children of Blood and Bone cover. No cats.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

One of my favorite things about the fantasy world these books occupy is that everyone rides around on giant cats. How freaking cool is that?

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Features a cat along for the ride when two musicians get sort of but not really abducted by space aliens so they can play in a music contest in an attempt to save the world. The cat, notably, would happily give up India to the aliens to save its own skin, which is notably why we don’t give cats those kind of options.