The best science fiction stories with pets

The Books I Picked & Why

Catseye

By Andre Norton

Catseye

Why this book?

Andre Norton, the legendary grande dame of sci-fi and fantasy, wrote more than 100 books. Catseye was one of the first sci-fi books I ever read and is still a favorite. Some books written way back when (okay, 1961) age less gracefully than others. Lucky for us, Norton's books stand the test of time. When desperately poor Troy gets a temp job cleaning an exotic pet shop, he only hopes it'll keep him out of the slums for a few days. Instead, he discovers the shop owner is dealing in highly illegal pets, such as cats and foxes. Furthermore, they’re all telepathic and can connect with Troy. When the shop owner is murdered, it's up to Troy and his animal allies to save each other from a similar fate.


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Werehunter

By Mercedes Lackey

Werehunter

Why this book?

This short story collection includes four about ship's cats. Not ordinary cats at all, but genetically superior in every way that's important (or so they'll have you know). In "Skitty", the hero brings his ship's cat to impress the new potential allies...except no one told Skitty not to hunt the local vermin. Oops! In "A Tail of Two SKitties", when a ship's cat is presented as a gift to a planet, a second stowaway ship's cat causes havoc. "SCat" takes up the mystery of origins and identity of the stowaway. In "A Better Mousetrap", ship's kitties are very good at slaughtering vermin, which horrifies the nation that worships and reveres said vermin. The rest of the collection is full of more Lackey sci-fi and fantasy goodness.


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Dragonsong

By Anne McCaffrey

Dragonsong

Why this book?

This is part of McCaffrey’s beloved Dragonriders of Pern series. Dragonsong is set in a seaside hold—a fortified town—and far from the inland holds that rule the land. Menolly, a young woman with a gift for music, aspires to be a harper, but her rigidly conservative parents forbid it. Realizing she will never make her parents or herself happy, she strikes out on her own. In her adventures, she discovers a nest of fire lizards, the miniature, cute, and wild cousins of the majestic dragons. She befriends all nine of them (sort of like adopting a feral cat colony, I'd think) and teaches them to harmonize with her music. When I read this part to my cats, they remind me that unless the song is about tuna treats, they will not be singing with me.


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Catalyst: A Tale of the Barque Cats

By Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Catalyst: A Tale of the Barque Cats

Why this book?

Catalyst (and the sequel, Catacombs) are for anyone who cherishes cats. It’s obvious that McCaffrey and her frequent collaborator Scarborough know cats very well indeed. In this universe, a ship's cat has proven to be as essential a crew member as captain, navigator, or engineer. (I find this totally believable, as one of my cats has decided his job is to notify me when someone has left a package on my porch.) The cats in the story are evolving to be even more valuable to humans, especially when it comes to alien relations and saving a colony's livestock from destruction. Do yourself a favor and read Catacombs, too, to find out what happens when the Barque Cats meet a cat god.


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Strange Love: An Alien Abduction romance

By Ann Aguirre

Strange Love: An Alien Abduction romance

Why this book?

Aguirre is one of my auto-buy authors because she writes smart, complex characters and pulls off compelling plots with panache. Strange Love’s hero is truly an alien, not a muscled humanoid with green skin and horns. The human heroine works at a children’s daycare center, which surprisingly turns out to give her the skills to handle almost anything life throws at her. Don't let the "abduction" part of subtitle put you off (it was an accident), and the romance pushes all the right buttons. So why is this in my list? Don't tell my cats, but the heroine gets abducted with her d-o-g. And thanks to alien technology, Snaps can now talk. He's everything you'd want in a pet—entertainer, defender, and boon companion.


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