Among the many new characters that "Star Trek: Discovery" on CBS All Access will introduce in Season 3 is one of the non-human sort: a fluffy feline named Grudge.
The cat, played by a, 18-lb. (8 kilograms) Maine Coone named Leeu, is just the latest cat star in the 54-year-old franchise — but he's already stealing the show.
"We put out a casting call for a large cat … and he fit the bill. So far he seems to be a one-take wonder," said Leslie Lawrence, one of Leeu's trainers, in a short video released by CBS All Access Sept. 8.
The two-year-old Maine Coon, like any Hollywood star worth their claws, is on Instagram and Twitter so that you can follow along with his adventures. So far, the staff on "Discovery" is impressed by his stamina.
While no one mentioned it in the video, it's likely that American Humane is making sure that Leeu remains happy and safe, as the society monitors animal safety and health on film and TV sets.
"Everybody says that their cat can make a good set cat. But it does take a specific animal to be able to stay cool and calm and collected, because when cats are done, they're done," Lawrence said. The staff works hard to make sure Leeu feels safe in his environment. And to get him to look at the camera, Leeu's handlers catch his attention with tin foil and treat bags.
Leeu follows a long line of feline stars in the storied "Star Trek" franchise. Usually the first cat that fans cite is Spot, who was owned by the android Data in "The Next Generation" (1987-1994). Another starring cat was Neelix — owned by Reginald Barclay of "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995-2001).
But the "Star Trek" fan site Memory Alpha reminds us that there were many other cats; we'll remind you of a few examples below.
Fans of "The Original Series" (1966-1968) may remember Isis, who appeared in the episode "Assignment: Earth" when the U.S.S. Enterprise goes back in time to the 20th century to meet a benevolent alien who tries to stop civilizations from destroying themselves. The cat also appeared to have powers, such as understanding exactly what the alien (Gary Seven) was saying at all times.
Chester the cat made appearances in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (1993-99), first showing up with an owner named Chester before Miles O'Brien (played by Colm Meaney) took over the cat's care. Fans of TNG may remember the crew discussing their feelings about cats in a few episodes, with William T. Riker and Geordi La Forge coming out against cats and Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi saying they loved the species.
Perhaps the most terrifying cat of the series, however, showed up briefly in "Star Trek: The Animated Series." A 1973 episode called "Once Upon a Planet" featured a "mechanical manifestation of an abnormally massive cat," while the crew was on shore leave, according to Memory Alpha. Several crew members were trapped in a cave, partly out of fear of the cat doing something to them.
Let's hope that Leeu never gets that angry.
Leeu joins an ever-more-diverse cast of actors on the show, which will include several new additions this season: transgender actor Ian Alexander, nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio, and Black actor David Ajala — the latter of whom is the owner of Grudge in the show.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace
Isis was briefly shown as a humanoid woman, suggesting that it wasn't a cat with "superpowers", but actually an alien in cat form.Reply
Cats rule, dogs drool!Reply
There was another alien in TOS that changed into a giant cat to hunt the crew in the episode Catspaw.Reply
Note, Gary Seven was not an alien.
Looks like Discovery needed another gimmick to try and pull people in. It's so unfortunate that CBS just can't seem to make any Star Trek that fans like, which may have something to do with the toxic producers who refuse to listen to what the fans want.
For an excellent example of something fans love, see Prelude to Axanar on youtube. A fantastic effort. No matter if you like the guy who pulled it off or not, he did an excellent job. He was true to Gene Roddenberrie's vision and does not think he is so awesome that his own personal vision should supplant Gene's. I would be happy to pay to see a show like that, or indeed a series. Just check out the comments below the video to see thousands of people who believe Axanar is far better than anything produced by CBS or Paramount over the lats 15 years. If CBS really had anyone with real think-meat, they would have hired this guy instead of suing him. If they want to really revitalize Star Trek, that would be the way to do it. Something fans want. Something canon.