After seeing a question regarding the acquisition of Data's cat Spot, the point was brought up that Data's cat changed colors midway through the series. My question is, how?

I have thought up two possibilities (see below to my own answer) but I'm wondering if there aren't possibly others that might fit better.

Exhibit A- Spot the Younger

Spot A

Exhibit B- Spot the Older

Spot B

  • 3
    Haven't you ever met a family that names all their pets of the same breed the same name?
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:01
  • 4
    My neighbor had done that. All of her cats have the same appearance and the same name. So she can comfort herself with the illusion they never died... She is an older woman so we humor her and call her cat Max (3). Max (1) died of old age right after she moved into the neighborhood. Max (2) was hit by a car in his 3rd year. Max (3) is now happily running around the neighborhood... Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:35
  • 1
    Are you asking for an in-universe explanation?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 7:13
  • 11
    Over the next few centuries the field of cat cosmetic surgery will become all the rage. In a fit of mid-life crisis, Spot will undergo a number of cosmetic procedures to change its appearance, trying to keep up with cats that are a year or two younger.
    – BBlake
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 12:09
  • 2
    It's a dye job. He's very sensitive about it. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 17:07

5 Answers 5


This is one of the examples of why production, ultimately, must trump plot in television and films. The original 'spot' probably couldn't be procured (for financial reasons or availability or some such) and so the producers just simply got any old orange stage cat to fill the place. Not to mention, that 'spot' was required to do various different types of stunts throughout the various episodes. Cats are notoriously difficult to train and so this would have required at least two different cats. Throughout the series, I remember reading somewhere, they ended up using something like 7 or 8 different cats.

Finally, due to constraints of the reality of producing a television show, an in universe explanation, in this instance, is just foolish.

  • 2
    "...an in universe explanation, in this instance, is just foolish." Nice!
    – Dima
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 20:16
  • 1
    Hey, I've got a question about James Bond...
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 19:03
  • 4
    Well, Dr. Who has an in-universe explanation. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 15:28

The (fully canon) Star Trek Encyclopedia has this to offer on the subject:

Spot first appeared in "Data's Day," but didn't actually get a name until "In Theory" (TNG). I "Data's Day," Spot was a male Somali cat, but in later appearances, Data's friend somehow became a female tabby. We speculate that Spot may be a shape-shifter or an unfortunate victim of a transport malfunction.

Out of universe, the change was due to the production team using a different animal supplier.

Per Memory Alpha

Spot was played by unknown long-haired Somali cats in his first two appearances and trained by Gary Gero and Scott Hart from Birds & Animals Unlimited. Spot's appearance was changed into an orange tabby cat beginning with the sixth season when Rob Bloch from Critters of the Cinema took over the animal casting and training. During his time on The Next Generation, Spot was then played by Monster, Brandy and Bud and later also by Tyler, trained by Rob Bloch and Karen Thomas-Kolakowski.

When it was decided that Spot would appear in the first TNG feature film, Star Trek Generations, Critters of the Cinema trainers Bloch, Thomas-Kolakowski and Kelli Cole trained the cats Monster and Brandy and their back-ups Spencer and Zoe. While Monster appeared in the scenes earlier in the film, when a more spunky Spot was required, Brandy was the cat seen at the end of the movie. Critters of the Cinema was not called back for the production of Star Trek Nemesis.

  • Hmmm .. does that in-universe explanation open the door to a ST:TNG/Marvel cross over, and that the Spot was actually a Flerken?!??!?
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 20:15

Possibility A- The cat died, got lost, whatever, and was simply replaced with another cat that Data with all of his creativity, decided to name Spot... again.

Possibility B- A significantly more unlikely possibility is that Spot and another cat strolled into a transporter beam that just happened to be having issues a la "Tuvix" style and the resulting combination of their DNA caused the change in the cat's appearance.

  • 2
    So we're treating the different Spots the same way Deep Space canonized the lack of forehead ridges on Klingons in the Original Series?
    – Nil
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:46
  • @Nil If by that question you mean that the differences must be explained (either for a race or a single creature) than yes. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:52
  • 2
    @Nil, are you proposing that Spot's change in appearance can be explained as an effect of the Augment virus? I like it.
    – Plutor
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 0:24
  • 3
    And there we have it folks, Spot was indeed a changeling founder!
    – Jared
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 1:22
  • A doesn’t make sense in light of Spot II in Discovery.
    – StephenS
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 4:19

He doesn't talk about it much*, but Mot is quite the closet eccentric and very artistic. Although he is very discreet, and keeps them well covered, he has a number of very elaborate tattoos, is an avid reader of fashion e-zines, and a video blogger.

One of his "pet" projects (pun intended), is a video blog about hair dressing and fashion for pets. For this project, Data graciously allowed Mot the use of his cat, Spot.

This explains Spot's continued changes in appearance. It's really no different than the changes in appearance of Deanna Troi's uniform or hairstyle.

*Meaning he doesn't talk about it at all; and I made up this entire answer

  • Nice angle. Pet styling by Mot. Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 19:56
  • Or perhaps Spot is actually of a future breed that simply changes appearance as it gets older. Many animals do this, including humans (people with blond hair in their youth can become fairly dark brunettes as they get older; similarly, many infants' eye color can change), and the snowshoe hare changes coat length and color by season. Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 23:45

Good lord, guys — the production reason: I wrote about this in the original Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion in 1993 and 1995:

Prop masters hire the animal wranglers & inventory. For the first Spot episodes, prop master Joe Longo used his service of choice for the gray Spot. For the remainder, Alan Sims used Critters of the Cinema and their "client book." Right in 1994 with many TV crew, that bridged to Generations.

Eight years and a whole paradigm later for Nemesis (and likely after the end of that lookalike cat dynasty), different prop master used different animal handler agency.

The fun part is, yes, explaining the diff. Not to mention -- the gender change!

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! Thanks for the inside view.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 23:21

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