Robert Heinlein must have known and loved many cats. Pete, in The Door into Summer is a fully realized character, and Pixel in two of the Lazarus Long books is also memorable.

The title of The Door into Summer

was triggered by a remark which Heinlein's wife Virginia made when their cat refused to leave the house: "He's looking for a door into summer." (See first link.)

But other than the page Robert A. Heinlein Quotes About Cats on A-Z Quotes, I have not found any mention of Heinlein writing about real-life cats. Did he write or comment on the real-life cats who inspired his cat characters?

  • 4
    Yes, his real-life cats could indeed walk through walls.
    – Paul
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 3:53
  • 1
    Hey, when I sneeze, I'd swear my cats teleport away.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


In the book Grumbles from the Grave which was assembled from Heinlein's papers post-mortem, a number of Heinlein cats are discussed in chapter 13, subsection "CATS". Example:

January 12, 1957: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Pixie is dying...uremia, too far gone to hope for remission; the vet sent him home to die several days ago. He is not now in pain and still purrs, but he is very weak and becoming more emaciated every day-it's like having a little yellow ghost in the house.

  • 3
    I want to point out cats will sometimes purr when they are in pain so don't take it as a sign they are content. Commented May 16, 2019 at 16:37

Yes he did own a cat. The book The Door Into Summer was based on his experience with his own cat after an interaction where the cat would go door-to-door looking for a new door into summer.

He stated this in an interview with Alfred Bester published in Redemolished.

[Bester:] How fast do you work?
[Heinlein:] Well the fastest was—I'll have to explain. When we were living in Colorado there was snowfall. Our cat—I’m a cat man— wanted to get out of the house so I opened a door for him but he wouldn't leave. Just kept on crying. He'd seen snow before and I couldn't understand it. I kept opening other doors for him and he still wouldn’t leave. Then Ginny said, 'Oh, he's looking for a door into summer.' I threw up my hands, told her not to say another word, and wrote the novel The Door Into Summer in 13 days."

You can find reference to this in the book The Door Into Summer where it's stated in the introduction page.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to the site. You could greatly improve this answer by editing it to include a quote of the text you mentioned. Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 23:56
  • 1
    I've found the interview with Bester, but I can't find any edition of the book Door into Summer with an introduction from Heinlein.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 15:27
  • 1
    @Valorum - In the SF Masterworks edition, the introduction is by Stephen Baxter, and refers to the Alfred Bester interview: "that it was his own cat that give the idea for the novel in the first place. During a Colorado winter the cat would wonder around the house from one door to another, peering out glumly. Heinlein was puzzled until his wife Virginia explained that the cat didnt fancy the snow fields it saw through the various doors, and was looking for a 'door into summer'." Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 17:08
  • 1
    @Valorum - the same introduction states that the novel starts off with this story about his very own cat that was recounted in the interview. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 17:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.