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Thomas-Peters's avatar

Capt. Riley and the Ship's Cat

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The Captain’s cat hitches a ride to the bridge on her shoulder. It seems to me inconceivable that humans will not bring our companion animals into space. Frankly, I’m a litte surprised the International Space Station doesn’t have at least one resident cat. Cats have all ready shown quite an ability to quickly adapt to zero gravity, in experiments conducted on aircraft flying parabolic arcs, and I’m sure they will teach humans a thing or two about getting around in microgravity when they get into space.
This piece was done originally for a calendar to benefit a cat rescue charity in the United Kingdom.
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Great! Cats in space are logical choice for me. you just have to invent zero-g cats toilet and food/water dispenser and make filters able to take hairs
This is great!  I can easily imagine a cat riding on a shoulder like that.
astrofan1993's avatar
While cats may be able to adapt to microgravity environments, it makes sense that there aren't any cats on the ISS.  There's too many variables in play where something could go wrong.  A cat could chew through a wire and cause a short circuit or a fire, they wouldn't be able to go to the bathroom like humans do in space, and when they shed fur, it can clog up the air vents.  As cool as it may seem, at this point, it is not technologically feasible for animals like cats or dogs to suddenly be sent up to live with humans on a space station, in my opinion.
Nope, no bug eye chest bursting aliens here. Nope Nope Nope....:D (Big Grin) =P (Razz) 
The biggest problem with pets in space is dealing with their biological needs. How would any of them go to the bathroom when not contained? Small animals in special cages can be dealt with because their waste is either captured by something in the cage, or the cage is big enough for them to do their business for as long as the experiment is running.
Also, fur, dander, dust, etc... is not good for things on the stations. It's not like it will just settle to the ground and then vacuumed up later. It can act as an insulator, making it hard for things to cool off, or even short out circuitry.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
All great points. I think the air circulation system would deal with most of it-just need a HEPA filtration system inline, and regular cleaning of the input screens. And little flying robots to chase down larger particles! :D
psymonster1974's avatar
How to contain the kitty litter?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
I'm going with a small centrifuge that activates when the cat gets in. Spins up to about an eighth of a gee, just enough to make sure everything goes in the right direction, then it rolls back a cover on the litter. I'm sure someone will come up with a more elegant solution, though :D
rosepetal179's avatar
that is lovely! I wish cats could go into space with humans! I could imagine my friends cat nosie in the spaceship with them floating around.
Radicaun's avatar
:iconelgatoplz: :iconsaysplz: Self promoted Captain Kitty Cat refuses to acknowledge Ms. Riley's rank. :iconripleyplz:
PrimaryCommander2045's avatar
Some of the earliest experiments proved that cats hate fighter jets.

Laughing 
JonathanBluestone's avatar
I can only imagine a cat in freefall is a lot of fun to be around. INSTANT FAVORITE. Although I believe it would be easier for the cat if it was a kitten when it first encountered micro-gravity.
DrOfDemonology's avatar
Wonderfully done! And I agree with you 100%. Cats are very good at adapting to new environments; I'm sure they'd do well in space. I'm a lifelong cat-lover, so this piece is especially nice :)

And thank you so much for helping a cat rescue charity :manhug:
Colourbrand's avatar
I can see that :D That is so typical a cat :D

Well done and designed sir :D
alexthegreater's avatar
I imagine cat hair would be horrible in microgravity.
JonathanBluestone's avatar
I was just contemplating action/reaction and imagine a cat attempting to clean itself in micro-gravity would lead to a pin-wheeling cat bouncing all over the interior. Of course, the animal could be given a Velcro waist strap for keeping it secured when it is sleeping etc.
alexthegreater's avatar
Or it might learn to use it's claws to hang onto a surface. Another solution would be to just assume a spherical shape and float about the cabin as a purring ball of fur. 

It would be interesting to observe the long term effects of micro-gravity on the behavior of non human animals. IIRC all the animal tests subjects had been tied down.
JonathanBluestone's avatar
Indeed. Irrespective of the facts and fallacies, just having a cat along would be of enormous benefit to the crew for psychological reasons. That said, in it's present form, human spaceflight technologies tend to be somewhat incompatible with the cat's features - claws for example are unable to find purchase on metal paneling, plastic screens, or rubberized padding (or some very little give). All of that said, clearly a crew had enough confidence that one cat at least could be trusted to use a litter box. I am of course referring to Jones, the only survivor of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo (A L I E N).
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Probably would't want to take a persian, but short haired cats like pictured probably wouldn't be worse thanyour average person.
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