I'm looking for a sci-fi short story I read ages ago, where the crew of an experimental new spaceship that scans their minds to anticipate their orders get drunk one night and scan in the cat, which the ship starts treating like a member of crew.

When the ship gets attacked by aliens using a weapon that paralyses the humans, the computer displays the situation as a hologram, and the cat starts attacking the enemy diagram, guiding the ship to fight and win. As a reward, the crew give the cat all the luxuries it can eat.

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    In Cordwainer Smiths "The Game of Rat and Dragon" cats guided by telepaths fight aliens on behalf of the humans. Doesn't really sound like your story, so just commenting in case you are generally interested in cat themed science fiction :-) Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 19:49
  • How long ago is "ages ago"? 10 years? The 60s?
    – Jenayah
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 20:51
  • Not scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/212729/… right?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 23:14
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    Sounds like something from Saberhagen's Berserker stories. Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 5:09
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    @DraganMilosevic you're thinking of "Without a Thought" (1963), the one beginning "The machine was a vast fortress, containing no life, set by its long-dead masters to destroy anything that lived".
    – LSerni
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


I think it's "Well Worth the Money", by Jody Lynn Nye! Published in Cats in Space and Other Spaces, edited by Bill Fawcett, Baen Books, 1992.

From this review:

Balin Jurgenevski along with two others volunteer to take an experimental spaceship to deliver and pick up goods at a space colony. The spaceship was a dual project between humans and a friendly alien race but it's not quite clear how easy or likely it will work so the 3-person crew is being offered a whole lot of money to try it out. Once aboard, the three find that the ship practically takes care of itself and they have little work to do besides take care of the ship cat, Kelvin. The ship's operating system has user profiles for each person and thus, prepares, delivers, and checks in on the specifics of each person. One day, they decide to create a user profile for Kelvin and sure enough, the ship's adaptive program begins caring for and working with Kelvin. During one of the jumps, the crew end up in a dangerous part of the galaxy where a known race of alien blobs regularly seeks to do them harm. An alien ship arrives and starts to attack with a beam that paralyzes the humans but Kelvin is still free. The ship's computer works with Kelvin to fight the other spaceship and destroy them. The rest of the mission goes well and they all speak on Kelvin's behalf as an official crew member.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! Could you edit your answer to explain why you believe this is correct i.e. how does it match the description given in the question? You also may want to take the tour to learn a little more about how the site works!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 13:10
  • byanyothernerd.com/2014/02/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 14:43
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    I agree. [1] Ship is testing new interactive computer interface which reads your personality and intellect. [2] during a drinking party they tell the computer that ship's cat Kelvin is part of the crew. [3] Hostile Smoot battleship attacks with a paralysis beam so crew cannot fight back, but cat is unaffected. [4] Cat attacks touch screen showing enemy ship, which activates ship weapons and blasts Smoot ship. [5] After, cat is rewarded by grateful crew with all the spicewurst it can eat. Commented May 5, 2021 at 2:02

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