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Felis sapiens

Felis sapiens (designated Felix sapiens by Kryten's replacement Hudzen-10 in the episode The Last Day) are a fictional, sentient, humanoid species from the Red Dwarf television series. The series generally refers to them simply as cats. They are all originally descended from a single pregnant domestic cat of Earth-origin, named Frankenstein, whom Dave Lister bought on shore leave on a colony on Titan. One cat, simply known as "The Cat," is a regular character in the show.

Biology

Cats look very much like humans. The most obvious differences are the teeth, which are those of a carnivore rather than an omnivore, and the number of nipples (6). Internally a cat is characterised by colour-coordinated organs, a decorated stomach wall, and a heartbeat that sounds "cooler" than a human's. Cats come in at least two races; they are capable of speech, 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 (they smell the words in their books) and an interest in cat food.

In the first novel, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Cats have slimmer faces, a narrow, flat nose, larger eyes and ears which are higher on the head. In the fourth novel Backwards we find out that the cat's penis is covered in sharp and painful hooks (as is a real cat's).

According to the unmade episode Identity Within, if cats do not have sex by a certain age, they die.

Culture, religion and history

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. 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 the anti-hero Dave Lister. A religious conflict concerning the colour (red or blue) of the hats that the people who served at the Temple of Food were to wear led to a Holy War between the two factions that lasted thousands of years (according to Lister, the hats were actually supposed to be green). Most of the Felis sapiens population was killed in the fighting. A truce was called, and each faction built a spacecraft and left Red Dwarf in search of Fuchal. The faction who believed the hats should be blue followed a sacred writing of Cloister, that they had interpreted as a star chart (actually Lister's laundry list), and immediately flew into an asteroid. It is not known what became of the second spacecraft.

In the original episodes, the last remaining Cat Priest 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".

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.

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

In the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the war is over whether the god is called Cloister or Clister, rather than the colour of the hats. And the promised land is named "Bearth" for Earth, rather than "Fuchal" for Fiji.

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?" Though it is debatable whether this is a correct saying, due to the Cat only learning of dogs when Lister shows the Cat a picture of his father.

Food (fish and birds in particular) is of central cultural and economic importance. Due to voracious consumption of food, five fish is 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 pull a snarling face. This is to prevent getting eaten by the stranger. 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.

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 one parallel universe cats do 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.

Technology

The Cat wears clothes, in a particularly garish style, and it is implied that all other cats dress well. They developed the trouser press before the wheel. The Cat launders his 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.

Whenever he 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 the 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 learnt English by watching The Flintstones. They 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 read books and have two hundred and forty six smell symbols in their lexicon and 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 role playing game

In the Red Dwarf role-playing game, Felis Sapiens and Canis Sapiens (better known as Evolved Cats and Evolved Dogs) are races the player can pick for their characters. Also, there are three (technically four) other Evolved Animal Races that the player can choose from: Evolved Rats/Mice, Evolved Rabbits and Evolved Iguanas.

Evolved Rabbits are explained as being the dominant species of their parallel universe, and have evolved into a civilisation that bears strong resemblance to a stereotypical Fascist dictatorship. Humans are regarded in their universe as little better than mindless animals, being used for slaves and medical experimentation. In the game, Evolved Rabbits receive a bonus to Awareness (due to their keen senses) and to Aesthetics and Seduction (they are highly sexual beings, who have still perfected the arts of reproduction even if their biological processes have slowed down due to their evolution). However, they are so obnoxious and odious they can't even stand each other; they receive a penalty to all Empathy checks, ranging from -3 (humans) to -1 (Evolved Rabbits). Evolved Rabbits can be told from humans by the shape of their ears (longer, thinner and pointed) and by their buck-teeth.

Evolved Rats are sneaky, sly and tough, with a fondness for slick hair and 'sharp' clothing. They are very concerned with grooming and hygiene, being known to spend hours preening themselves. They tend to be solitary, but will occasionally group together in small gangs. They tend to be adept at tasks that require dexterity and/or less scupulous skills. Evolved Rats have slightly pointed ears and "Roman" noses.

Evolved Mice are shorter than humans and tend to be spry in their youth, becoming more rotund as they age. They are much more social and gregarious than their Rat cousins and tend to be attracted to group settings, inevitably developing a tightly-knit social hierarchy. Mice are as meticulous about grooming as Rats but are generally less fashion-conscious, favouring overalls and sturdy toolbelts to zoot suits. Both Evolved Rats and Evolved Mice are attracted to shiny objects and sweets, and will never be truly happy unless they have a 'nest'; a personal and private hidey-hole with comfortable bedding and places to hide their various treasures.

Evolved Iguanas originate from a parallel universe where domestic reptiles are not extinct (as evidenced by Lister's question "What's an Iguana?", though this may simply have been ignorance as Rimmer brought up the subject). Slow, methodical and relaxed by nature, most other races find Iguanas to be inscrutable slobs. Iguanas never give any indication of their feelings, and will remain tight-lipped and enigmatic until and unless they feel the situation warrants sharing personal information. Iguanas are economical when it comes to using words, and yes or no questions are the best to ask for in hopes of receiving an instant reply (and it will almost always be punctuated with "mon" in a West Indies accent). Evolved Iguanas have lanky body-builds and large (bulging) eyes, which often have the tendency to look in different directions. They are naturally skilled climbers and are actually very fond of exploring the unknown, though they never seem surprised by what they find. Some believe the race's slow manner and relaxed attitude is a by-product of their culture's fondness for wacky weed and reggae- though no-one has ever proven this (or attempted to).

Notable cats

  • The Cat is a main character in the Red Dwarf television series
  • Frankenstein is known as the Holy Mother in the religion of the Felix Sapien race; she was Dave Lister's domestic cat who became the evolutionary mother of the entire Felix Sapien species. Frankenstein was seen in the first ever Red Dwarf episode, The End, and in a flashback in Ouroboros.
  • Old blind priest was the only living Felix Sapien seen in the television series besides The Cat
  • Aura (or Ora) is a female Felix Sapien featured in the "lost episode" of the seventh series, Identity Within
  • Zural (or Zooral) is a male Felix Sapien featured in the "lost episode" of the seventh series, Identity Within.

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