In an episode of Star Trek TOS, Spock mentioned a childhood pet. I think it was Dr. McCoy who teased him about his having a kitty-cat. The animal Spock described was definitely not a kitty-cat -- it was bigger, with proportionally bigger fangs and claws and had a irritable temperament.

Is anything more known about this pet? Is there a picture of it? Was this the only pet species available on Vulcan, or was a ferocious animal selected on purpose to quash any human feelings of sentimentality the half-human Spock might feel for a kitten- or puppy-like creature?


2 Answers 2


The episode you are thinking of is TOS: Journey to Babel and the pet is question was a sehlat named I-Chaya.

Here is a picture from TAS: Yesteryear, in which we finally meet the creature:

a brown, bear like creature with fangs

A lower-quality image to show the creature's scale at the time of its death:

it is larger than Spock

Here is the dialogue you are remembering:

MCCOY: Spock, I've always suspected that you were a little more human than you let on. Mrs. Sarek, I know about the rigorous training of the Vulcan youth, but tell me, did he ever run and play like the human children, even in secret?
AMANDA: Well, he, he did have a pet sehlat he was very fond of.
MCCOY: Sehlat?
AMANDA: It's sort of a fat teddy bear.
MCCOY: A teddy bear?
SAREK: Excuse me, Doctor. It has been a rather long day for my wife. Captain.
KIRK: Ambassador.
(Sarek leads Amanda away.)
MCCOY: A teddy bear.
SPOCK: Not precisely, Doctor. On Vulcan, the teddy bears are alive, and they have six-inch fangs.

Regarding the reason why such a potentially dangerous species of animal were chosen as pets on Vulcan, I would argue that the same thing happened with dogs (wolves) here on Earth. Animals are usually domesticated because they're useful in some regard. I imagine a domesticated sehlat would make a superb guard animal, especially given that I-Chaya was fatally wounded saving a young Spock from a venomous predator (in "Yesteryear").

Sources conflict regarding the temperament of domesticated sehlats. The script for "Yesteryear" says:

It is not cute... a sehlat can be dangerous as hell. If you make a wrong move, a sehlat will probably rip your arm off... but Vulcans never make wrong moves. That would be illogical.

However, DC Fontana claims:

As to who and what I-Chaya would be as a character, I decided he would be closely patterned on my large cat, Bobby McGee. While Bobby is not old and fat, he has the same affection, snuggle-ability, the fastest claws in the West, and complete disregard for orders. 'One word from me, and he does exactly as he pleases.' The statement fits both Bobby and I-Chaya.

Yet another source describes the species as:

highly intelligent, and despite the six-inch fangs, of a patient and gentle disposition.

All quotes taken from the memory alpha articles for "Sehlat" and for "I-Chaya".

Considering the affection between Spock and I-Chaya, and that the animal was buried in a place of family honor following its death, it seems unlikely that this species was chosen in an effort to quell young Vulcans' emotions. However, the decision to euthanize his beloved pet (after it was fatally wounded) did influence Spock to pursue his father's philosophies of Vulcan logic.

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    It occurs to me that both sources could be correct: the wild breeds are the ones you don't want to make the wrong moves around, but the domesticated breeds typically kept as pets are patient and gentle (since surely the people would select for those traits to live and work with them), but they're all the same species and of course, individual animals can have different moods at different times. Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 1:20

Spock's pet sehlat, I-Chaya, was part of a story told twice in Star Trek canon. I-Chaya appeared on screen in the animated episode Yesteryear:

Animated Domesticated Sehlat

The story was repeated, from Sarek's perspective, in the Next Generation episode Unification I. I-Chaya's role is omitted.

Sehlats appear to have been the only Vulcan pets named in main canon. T'Pol also had one in her youth.

I-Chaya's animated appearance appears to be the only one of a pet sehlat. Wild sehlats appeared, and played a role in the Enterprise episode The Forge:

CGI Wild Sehlat

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