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Catalyst (Tales of the Barque Cats #1)

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,534 Ratings  ·  198 Reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Catacombs.

Pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, scientist—ship's cat? All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats ha
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Del Rey (first published December 15th 2009)
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Feb 23, 2010 Red rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really care for this book. I picked it up at the library on a whim, because the cover looked interesting and then read the synopsis here and it sounded good. I love Anne McCaffrey's writing and have rarely been disappointed with her solo works, but I've shied away from her collaborations fearing that her name was on the covers just to sell the books. This novel did nothing to disabuse me of that notion.

The ideas were interesting, the bones of a good story was there, they were just poorl
I gave up on this one. Other than Chessie and Janina, none of the characters were at all likable. While I have read successful books with unlikable characters, those books have other things going for them: storyline, etc. Also, I know I've seen cats used as ship partners before in other books. I have tons of other books to read. If this isn't grabbing me by now, it has lost it's chance to be read! Seriously, my experience with Anne McCaffrey is that the books she wrote by herself were vastly sup ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Brenda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not their best book. More YA than adult. Cats patrol spaceships, killing rodents, insects,and searching for air or gas leaks. Eating iridescent beetles makes some cats able to telepathically bond with humans. Some cats are of higher pedigree, the Barque cats, and their kittens are expensive. A pregnant cat is kidnapped and finds refuge dirtside in a stable, with another pregnant cat.
Barque cats are practically essential to the running of a well maintained spacecraft. They rid the ship of vermin, detect fuel and oxygen leaks more efficiently than sensors, and are the unofficial morale officers. That makes them both well-loved and extremely valuable. Chessie, a descendent of Tuxedo Tom, the original Barque cat, reflects her breeding well. Not only is she a beautiful and extremely capable ship’s cat, she produces litter after litter of highly prized kittens which are sold for ...more
Mar 25, 2010 Gail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I don't know if this book is classified as a YA, but IMO, it should be. Not that it's a bad book, but it is... Well, it's told from the cat's POV. This can be done in a sophisticated manner (Watership Down), but this story just has a YA feel to me.

The first narrator is Chessie, a Barque cat, which is a specially bred, specially trained spaceship cat. Not only do they catch the vermin which stows away with ship cargoes, but they search out air leaks and tiny meteorite hull punctures and alert th
Feb 03, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, cats
This is definitely a book for cat lovers. I would also say that although it's a space adventure, it's more oriented towards female readers.

Much of the story is told from the perspective of the cats involved. I found their voices to be convincing most of the time--they weren't always nice to each other or to humans, and at one point, an angry kitten uses someone's boot as a bathroom, which is realistic enough! But on the other hand, some cats truly loved humans, and that is also realistic.

An Odd1
Jun 02, 2013 An Odd1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fun, fan
This funny series is named for spaceship Barque (French for bark, boat, small boat - as in: embark) and costly purebred felines. Barque-cats are specially trained to sniff trouble and eat pests inflight.

An Egyptian-cat-like super-power telepathic alien aims for universal domination. He controls shiny crunchy beetles that confer direct brain communication and bonding between kitties who eat them and nearby compatible "twolegs". He rescues, and brings to his own hot desert world, felines quaranti
Oct 22, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Barque Cats. It's in the title. Cats that are useful in spaceships in the Talet series by Anne McCaffrey. So of course I think that's what this book is about. Great - I mostly liked that series.
But no, this book, Catalyst, is about Barque Cats. Cats that are useful in spaceships in an alternate universe where Earth was destroyed by nuclear holocaust (I think - don't worry, that's not a spoiler, just a random informational note they give you somewhere in the text). Really? Cats, same name, same f
May 29, 2010 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_and_review
I am a cat person, and I have the defaced name plate on my desk to prove it. However, McCaffrey and Scarborough just take the whole thing into the realm of the ridiculous. I love my cats, but observation would suggest they don't even have object permanence. They are about on the intellectual level of toddlers. Suddenly becoming psychic isn't going to change that. The ancient Egyptian god/cat with the magical, physics-defying pyramid ship really has no place in science fiction. The writing and th ...more
Dixie A.
Oct 08, 2014 Dixie A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Spectacular. Gripping. Amazing. Maybe because I like cats and maybe because I like Anne McCaffrey's writing, but nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed this story. I'm amused that (while never explicitly stated) the guy who caused the problem by his illegal actions was one of the ones to rectify it. Shows you that villains aren't black and white.
Carol Brandon
Mar 25, 2015 Carol Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Teens would enjoy this book with it's tongue-in-cheek humour. In the future, cats are highly prized on spaceships to catch vermin, find gas leaks and befriend humans. Chessie, a Barque cat, is about to have kittens and is kidnapped by Ponty whose son wants a kitten. Chessie has her litter, among them, a son named Chester. Chester has become telepathic due to eating Keka bugs. They also produce 'fairy dust syndrome' which leaves shiny specks in their spittle, etc. Chessie & her kittens are fo ...more
This book encompasses all of: universal domination, catnapping, telepathy, space travel, disease... When Janina's valuable pregnant kitty Chessie, trained in helping out on space ships... as will be all of her progeny, is kidnapped, Janina must find her! While Chessie is away from Janina, she is sheltered in a barn with another pregnant cat, and the kittens get to know the kidnapper's young son, Jubal, and one of the kittens (Chester) ends up with an amazing bond (seemingly telepathic) with Juba ...more
Yes, I'm a cat person, so naturally I grabbed this one. I could tell that McCaffrey and Scarborough also love cats. The book lost a star because the sci-fi bits felt a little strained, but the descriptions from the cats' point of view were spot on. A perfect combination of affection, pretention, and curiosity. Chester's description of having his claws clipped was perfect!
Nov 02, 2014 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a delightful read-a nice light hearted science fiction book. It is the tale of the Barque cats who aid their human space travelers on their missions by keeping the ships shipshape just as cats of old took care of vermin on ships that once sailed the seas. However, here these cats are cable of communicating with their cat person and pointing out hazards that could damage the ship and the crew. It is the tale of a catnapping, which results in a mother cat Chasie giving birth to her kitten ...more
Jan 30, 2011 Leah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Telepathic cats try to take over the galaxy with dung beetles. Not McCaffrey's best work.
Apr 28, 2015 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I read a book by Anne McCaffery along with Elizabeth Scarborough. It is a futuristic tale (tail) about cats who bond with cats. Each cat has a matching human, they just have to find them. The cats become a political disaster and have to flee their home planet. An old cat uses his knowledge to convince them to get aid from Mau (the planet). They breed twith the Mauens and create a superior cat and hopefully some profer for the old cat. The book was fun. The cats were fun. T ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, brief scream to the world is now over. I used to love Anne McCaffrey and her Pern books, until her son took over at least. Now this! Sure, I came in here disliking cats, but still this was just poor writing. I had hoped for so much more out of the authors and I was sadly let down.

This book seemed to take forever to read. (And when I say "forever," it was about three weeks to get through 307 pages, which is a rediculously long time for me.) The first 200 or so pages seemed to d
Jan 25, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed to take forever to read. (And when I say "forever," it was about three weeks to get through 307 pages, which is a long time for me.) The first 200 or so pages seemed to drag on and on, and the characters got on my last nerve. All of the main characters had mommy or daddy issues of some kind. (Janina is an orphan, Jubal's father is a criminal, etc.) Even the bad-guy vet, Dr. Wren, who hates cats, had some childhood issue: a cat scratched her up so badly she needed surgery to repa ...more
Kat (Lost in Neverland)
In the future, every ship has a ship's cat. The ship's cat is a very important member of the crew, he/she catches the vermin that lines the ship, finds gas leaks, and is loved by the whole crew. But when a so called 'plague' caused by a shiny new species of bug invades the galaxy, animals of all sizes, even the Barque Cats will be 'infected'. The story follows Chester, the son of Chessie, a cherished ship's cat, on his dangerous adventure, along with Jubal, Chester's human, Janina, Chessie's hum ...more
Aug 14, 2012 J.N. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catalyst is a tale about the future. In this future, a species of cat, called the Barque Cat, is very important. Barque Cats help assist human crews on spacecrafts and are responsible for keeping the entire ship free of vermin and alerting the crew to any environmental hazards. One of the most special of these cats is a female named Chessie. Due to her pedigree, skills, and intelligence, she is the most valuable crew member on her ship, the Molly Daise. She is also pregnant and expecting a litte ...more
Andreea Daia
Finally I pushed myself to finish this book after I started it more than two months ago, read only about 30% of it, then read six other books in the mean time. The main problem I found was that the first half was very very slow-moving and not that interesting. While I understand that the authors had to slide into the story, it felt unnecessarily long and rather bland.

The second half however was much better paced, having also the benefit of some healthy humor. The character of Pshaw-Ra is what br
Robert A
May 30, 2013 Robert A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last time I read an Anne McCaffrey novel was right outta high school, back in the mid 80's. A book I mentioned in another review, "Crystal Singer". That book, the first of three, has a great female lead. I think of that character, Killashandra Ree, to this day. Great story!

So I saw a sci-fi book, about a cat, by Anne McCaffrey. 6 months ago I found my flame point siamese cat, Blue or Bluekker for you ,"Young Frankenstein" fans. I knew I had to read this....

Chapter5; The story is coming toget
Brian Schiebout
Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the first book in the Tales of the Barque Cats. Originally when I started this book I thought it was set in the universe of the Talented because of the barque cats listed there but the history does not match up. The book seems to draw more of its background from Mercedes Lackey's Skitty universe in subject matter and organization. The main characters in this story are the barque cats Chessie and her kitten Chester and their humans Janin ...more
Feb 17, 2012 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series when I was a teen, but sort of forgot about her later. When a saw something about the Barque cats on someone’s web site, I had to find the books. Apparently, ‘Catalyst’ is a sort of prequel to another series of books she wrote, a series that the Barque cats play a part it. This is their origin story.

Set in the far future, interstellar trade is constant. Many of the space ships have cats on board to catch cargo destroying rodents and to patrol for air leaks,
Nov 29, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, sci-fi
Chessie is a very expensive Barque cat, who assists the human crews on spaceships by catching rodents and detecting tiny air leaks. She is very pregnant when she is kidnapped from the vets office by Carl Poindexter. His son Jubal has been wanting a cat for a long time, and Carl will be able to make a lot of money off the extra kittens. Jubal telepathically bonds with the kitten Chester. Meanwhile Chessie's cat person has been frantically searching for her. When Chessie is turned in for the rewar ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Kerri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There comes a point in every author's life where she should think about setting her pen aside. Much as I love Anne McCaffrey, I think she's long past this time in her life. This start to a series that was wholely un-necessary. Ok it has its moments, especially those times we hear the story from Chester's POV, and there's no denying the appeal of kitties, but really, why? And there's a sequel, which is pretty much just as bad if not moreso, and apparently a third coming up which I will be compell ...more
Jan 12, 2016 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, animals
Oh man this book was really just not good.
The first few pages were enough to make me want to read it... But the writing feels like YA (is it? It wasn't in the YA section where I bought it) but not in a good way. You'd think cats on spacecraft would be interesting but the characters are half developed at best and have no arc. It's just a silly story that touches on ideas without actually having any. Cat lovers may enjoy this- as one I thought I would- but I found myself disappointed in how shall
Nancy Groves
A fun read involving one of my favorite subjects—cats—in the context of a sci-fi/fantasy tale in which specially bred and trained "Barque Cats" serve on spacecraft, fulfilling similar functions to the ship's cats of older terrestrial times. A "catnapping" sets off a chain of events that becomes enmeshed in a political scheme that could lead significant chaos, including the demise of the Barque cats and many other animals. Naturally, the cats eventually save the day.
Don Martinez
Normally I like Anne McCaffrey's writings: I'm a longtime Dragonriders of Pern fan. When she shifts her focus to spacefaring cats, however, much of it gets muddled. Granted, I picked this up because I'm a cat lover, but I'm kind of glad I only borrowed it from the library. The story's solid enough, and the stakes are certainly high ... and extra credit goes to whichever author, whether it was McCaffrey or Scarborough, who thought to put parts of the story strictly from the cat's eye view and got ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All ages 11 and up
Far in the future Earth colonies are thriving on other planets. Space travel is aided by the use of talented cats who keep down vermin, detect gas leaks, and perform other tasks to keep their ship's crews happy. Space ship crews include a CP Officer, (cat person) to care for the valuable felines. These CPs learn to practically speak cat, but now a few cats are suddenly forming telepathic bonds with their people.
Trouble starts when a crooked politician tries to help his greedy relative by decl
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Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 1:30 p.m., in the hour of the Sheep, year of the Fire Tiger, sun sign Aries with Taurus rising and Leo mid-heaven (which seems to suggest an early interest in the stars).

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two
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Other Books in the Series

Tales of the Barque Cats (2 books)
  • Catacombs: A Tale of the Barque Cats

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“Jubal threw his sign down in disgust and stalked away from the group. Sosi ran after him, the clipboard with the soggy petition” 0 likes
“but she wouldn’t have been a Cat Person if she had not.” 0 likes
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