An human is in a space station which is a sort of hub for different visiting alien species. At the beginning, the human is angry with the cat because the feline, while playing, inadvertently switched off some sensor so the human failed being alerted of an approaching spaceship. Because of this, he kills the cat.

There is then some talk with an enigmatic alien species, and a few sentences about how these aliens gifted the human a toy for his cat, but he never gave it to him.

I was gleeful to read the end of the story. It features nice poetic justice as the human is preparing to enter hibernation for his (several years long) travel back to Earth, when

he realizes the hibernation pods don't work. No problem, he thinks, he will feast during the whole time on the delicious dishes stocked on the spaceship. Then he realizes with horror that the only food available to sustain himself is cat food.

1 Answer 1


This is "The Alien Mind" by Philip K. Dick, originally published in The Yuba City High Times in February 1981, and later in Fantasy and Science Fiction for October 1981. A summary of the plot appears at https://philipkdickreview.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/the-alien-mind/ :

Jason Bedford woke up from his theta chamber and realized that his interstellar ship is off course. He never makes such errors but the Maknosians are altering him of his misdirection. They remind him that they need the vaccine his is delivering. Bedford learns that his cat, sent to accompany him on the trip, was pushing buttons on the control module and likely caused the error. He strangles the cat in rage, for embarrassing him in front of the alien minds.

Bedford’s ship arrives at Meknos III. They ask him for the whereabouts of his cat. He denies having one, but the Meknosians locate a large supply of cat food. He confesses he had a cat named Norman and the Meknosians send Bedford on his way.

On his way back to Earth, on a two year trip, Bedford learns that his theta chamber is disabled. He asks the Meknosians for aid and they just tell him that there are tapes he can watch. The compartment meant to hold the tapes had only a cat toy. He also finds that all of his food has been replaced with cat food, all of the same flavor.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! This does look likely as the answer, but it would be better if you included details from the link in case the blog goes down someday.
    – DavidW
    Oct 9, 2023 at 3:03
  • 1
    Space traveler gets mad at his cat and kills it. Aliens disapprove. He leaves on the next leg of his trip and discovers that all of his food has been exchanged for cat food--all the same flavor. Oct 9, 2023 at 13:25
  • It definitely is The Alien Mind, I've re-read this one many times :)
    – Andres F.
    Oct 9, 2023 at 14:22
  • Yes, it's this one. I was sure it was from one of my favourite sci-fi authors but I couldn't really remember which one. +1 and marked as answer. I've also taken the liberty to edit your answer to add the plot summary found in your link. Thank you.
    – Ouroboros
    Oct 9, 2023 at 15:47

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