I have read a lot of science fiction works with cats being the optimal space pet. I know Heinlein was a cat person, and I am thinking he had a solution for cats doing their business in space, but I can't recall what or where it was.

I posted a couple of questions here and here about the reality of cats and litter boxes in zero/micro gravity. The comments on those questions are leaning towards it being impossible, but I feel sure that of all the cat in space stories there must have been practical solutions. I have searched for Pixel (The Cat Who Walks Through Walls) and litter box without finding anything. I have not read about Pixel for a while so I don't recall how much time he spent in zero G, but I do recall his needs being a priority.

Did Heinlein ever identify how his cats were able to pee/poop in space, in this or any other of his novels?

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    I'm now imagining a cat with a colostomy bag strapped to its back. Although whether that would work in zero-G or micro gravity is another (off topic) question entirely.
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 19:36
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    @Richard The OP wasn't specifically looking for an example in RAH's work, merely citing them as an example of a thought out cat-in-space scenario I thought.
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 19:47
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    @Richard - I disagree; he's asking for any well thought out examples in SciFI, and using RAH as a possible example, but there are sure to be other SciFi cats in space. The cat from Forever War by Halderman leaps to mind, although I don't recall it's bathroom needs ever being addressed.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 19:51
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    For what it's worth, I give you: NASA's Animal Enclosure Module (AEM)
    – Joe L.
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:59
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    @JoeL. As that is a real world example you might want to post it as an answer on the Space.SE question the OP mentions. A free range cat could be trained to go use a modified box like that (with olfactory queues perhaps) to do its business, with the waste being "swept" up by a continuous air flow.
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


I am not aware of an instance in which Heinlein explains how cats would relieve themselves in space. However, Jack McDevitt includes a zero-gravity litter box in the short story "The Cat's Pajamas". The litter box

used magnetic gravel and gentle suction to overcome the problems of a zero-gee environment.

The story is available in the short story collection Armored. A description of the story by the author can be found here (H/T @Richard).

  • Would you like to offer this as a suggestion at my related question on space? I have linked back to this in the comments there. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 14:25
  • @JamesJenkins I don't have an account on that site and don't plan to create one. Feel free to answer your question on that site using this solution.
    – Null
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 18:26
  • I did not realize this was a 2012 work, I half recall a similar story and (possibly unrelated) solution that would have been published in between 1950 and 1980. Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 14:38

To answer the question in the title: I have all the novels listed in the Heinlein bibliography on Wikipedia, and too many short stories and anthologies for me to want to check them against the bibliography. In none of them have I found anything about dealing with a cat's bowel motions in zero-G.

The only novels of Heinlein's I've found that mention a cat other than in passing are:

  • Farnham's Freehold
  • For Us The Living
  • Friday
  • Magic, Inc
  • Space Family Stone
  • The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • The Door Into Summer
  • The Puppet Masters
  • To Sail Beyond The Sunset
  • Magic, Inc

and none of these mention the subject (incidentally the cat in Space Family Stone is an alien flat cat). In fact only Space Family Stone and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls deal with weightlessness at all.

The only short story I've found is Ordeal in Space.

I'm reluctant to claim definitively that Heinlein never mentioned a zero-G cat tray (there may be other stuff of his I'm unaware of) so I'll content myself with saying only that I have been unable to find such a mention. The nearest Heinlein comes is in Space Family Stone. The family are loading up the bicycles they're going to recondition and sell on Mars, and there is the following exchange:

‘Mind you don’t try to pass them off as new. But it looks to me as if you had taken too big a bite. When we get these inside and clamped down, there won’t be room enough in the hold to swing a cat’ much less do repair work. If you were thinking of monopolising the living space, consider it vetoed.’

‘Why would anyone want to swing a cat?’ asked Meade. ‘The cat wouldn’t like it. Speaking of that, why don’t we take a cat?’

‘No cats,’ her father replied. ‘I traveled with a cat once and I was in executive charge of its sand box. No cats.’

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