Earth people colonize a planet that already has inhabitants. Inhabitants are bonded with cat-like creatures whose paws secrete acid and who turn out to be telepathic. Earth people, of course, kill them but, eventually they use the cats to communicate with the planet's inhabitants. It starts out with the male main character being awakened on Earth by an alarm clock that uses increasingly bright light instead of sound. I remember the main female character's name as being Fiona.