The Menagerie Part 3: The Feline

Ohai!  I can has ketteh hero?

As I laid out in the Introduction, we’re making a superhuman team based on animals.  And there’s no more purrrrfect way to follow up the Canine than with … the Feline!

Now there are a wide variety of pussycats we can emulate.  But if we narrow down the options to two, large wildcats and domestic felines, I think the ideal for human emulation would be the common house cat.  Not only is the more common domestic cat the type which is more likely to expect out of an humanoid hero, it’s not as harsh on the furniture as wildcats.

The candidate would be female for this one, and she would need to have a particular athletic build.  One might think that a gymnast would have what it takes.  However, gymnasts tend to be a bit more stocky, not exactly the sleek build we would want for a kitty heroine.  And although gymnasts can be rather graceful, they’re not quite what we need for a humanoid cat.  The ideal candidate for this heroine would probably be a dancer, most likely ballet, with gymnastic training.

A feline heroine would have animal-like super powers.  But unlike the Canine, the most recognizable of the feline’s abilities would be through special training and acquired skills.  But first, we’ll cover the obligatory mutations and technological freak-making.

Appearance

This isn’t much different from the Canine.  Some implanted hair micro grafts in the right locations and you’re off to the races.  So I think we can skip the additional prose on this part.  We’ve already covered it.

Vision, Hearing, and Smell

Much like canines, felines have a tapetum on the back of the eye to enhance night vision.  But it also hinders vision.  Bionic implants can solve this problem, much like it can with our Canine hero.

Cats can also hear a wider range of sound than dogs.  They can hear all the way up to 64,000 Hz!  So rest assured, your pet cat can definitely hear you.  It just doesn’t care.  That’s why it ignores you.  This can also be reproduced the same way as with the Canine hero.  I mean the hearing range, not the ignoring.  Though perhaps expanding the range will create a heroine who will habitually ignore you.

As for the sense of smell, the feline is a lot better than a human, but nowhere near as good as a dog.  So I think we can skip this one without detracting from the effectiveness of our kitty heroine.

Sense of Balance

Finally!  A brand new power to cover!

A cat is known for its exceptional balance and ability to land on its feet, even with a slice of buttered toast  stuck to its back!  As with most mammals, cats get their sense of balance from a component in the inner ear called the Vestibular apparatus.  But unlike most other mammals, the cat’s sense of balance is much better developed.  It has three semi-circular, liquid filled chambers filled with cilia (tiny hairs) set at approximately 90 degrees to one another.  This allows the cat to have excellent spacial perception regardless of which direction its head is positioned.

[For more on kitty physics, check out this article in The Guardian, which links to research on the subject.]

The question now becomes how this can be emulated in a humanoid.  There are a couple of options which we can consider.  The first is to bionically install either a small gyroscope or a three-axis accelerometer.  (An accelerometer measures motion and change.  It’s what makes a Wii remote function and is present in most modern smart phones and tablet computers.)  The best part about it is that we have this technology readily available.

But as they often say, there ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.  It might be best, though perhaps more complicated, to try to emulate the actual physical structure of a cat’s Vestibular apparatus.  Sometimes, nature simply knows what’s best.  But either way, the balance of a cat is easily achievable.

Cat Scratch

Let’s face it, Kitty’s gotta have claws.  On one hand, we could try genetic modification to give the cat heroine real cat nails.  On the other hand, we can give her gloves with claws made out of titanium, or better yet, cubic boron nitride, which is only slightly less hard than diamonds.  Yeah, let’s go with that.  That way, there would be no need for a scratching post to maintain the fingernails.

Kitty Tricks

As I stated earlier, the primary abilities of the feline heroine would be the kitty tricks.  No, I don’t mean the kind of tricks seen in home videos plastered all over YouTube and emailed all over the world many times over.  While cats playing the keyboard or farting infinite rainbows out of a Pop Tart body are impressive, such abilities would not frighten would-be villains, and most certainly not qualify the cat person to star in a comic book series.  The only thing that would truly matter in this case is if the kitty has some mad skills.

The first set of skills would be gymnastics and acrobatics.  Granted, this is less inspired by cats and more inspired by cat-based comic book characters, but I think they should be considered a must in this case.  At the very least, it would keep the cat heroine more flexible than ballet dancing alone.

Speaking of which, ballet dancing should be included in the skill set.  Ballet instills strength, flexibility, poise, and strength which would be beneficial in taking a scratch out of crime.

Next is a physical activity which is near and dear to my own heart.  It’s called Parkour.  Parkour is the art of moving from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible using only the human (or cat-human) body.  This means going over, under, or through an obstacle rather than around it.  Even though it’s designed around the primate body of a human, the techniques of the Cat Balance, the Cat Leap, and the Cat Climb make it absolutely perfect for our Kitty.

And then we throw in a little bit of a Brazilian martial art called Capoeira.  Sure, Capoeira’s movements tend to be a little more monkey-like.  But there’s one thing to consider.  I haven’t seen the movie Catwoman with Hallie Berry.  I understand it was pretty awful.  But one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that she had the moves!  At least, that’s from the few clips I’ve seen.  How did she get those moves?  By studying Capoeira!  So it gets included in the training.

Finally, the kitty needs to be able to prowl.  I think a little bit of Ninjitsu is in order.  Mad cat skills are awesome.  Mad cat skills combined with mad ninja skills are even better!

So there you have it, the Feline Superhero.  What?  Whiskers?  Whiskers are unnecessary.  Whiskers are used by cats to feel around the environment.  Although it would add a little bit more to our new creation, it wouldn’t be a significant boost, at least not worth the hassle of adding them in.  And besides, not all cats have whiskers.

Now all we need is for the Lady Cat (not to be confused with the Cat Lady who has no super powers, just a lot of cats) to learn to speak in Lolcat, and we’re set.  Just make sure that she can has cheezburger.  Thnxbai!

Next up:  The Reptilian  ->

<-  Read Part 1

<-  Read Part 2

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Daniel C. Handley

Dan Handley was raised a Trekkie, fell in love with "Star Wars" at an early age, and became obsessed with comic book superheroes. He spent his youth dreaming of how to get real superpowers, starships, and so on.

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