The most noticeable characteristic is the thick pelt of fur that covers their body. The coloration varies widely, as different strains and breeds have long-since intermingled. The fur is shed twice a year; once in the 'spring' and once in the 'fall'. During this time, the Caitian will experience a maddening itch, which serves to help remove the shed fur from the pelt and stimulate blood-flow.
The Caitian pelt itself is a thick epidermis with fatty layer beneath. This allows protection from abrasions, offers a good base for fur growth, and allows the skin to slide more easily over the underlying muscles. Also, sub-dermal musculature allows some control over skin texture in the form of a "twitch" or rapid wrinkling of the skin to deter biting insects. Deliberate control over this is limited at best, and is more an automatic response in the same way that hackles are raised during moments of stress.
The Caitian physique one of light, strong bones and slim, powerful muscles geared for quick reflexes and strong bursts of power. This results in a slight reduction in long-term endurance. Caitian ancestors relied more on stalking and a fast, quick kill than trying to out-distance and wear-down their prey.
Limber joints and a lithe frame offer very smooth and and flowing movements. This gracefulness and supurb balance allow even a modern day Caitian to stalk silently, gliding smoothly, and allowing for an explosion of movement with very little "telegraphing" of intent such as that found in heavier, more long-endurance races.
Caitian metabolism is significantly higher than that of Terran standards. Their system runs a bit warm, sporting a core body temperature normalizing at 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Their entire system is designed to break down food to have it readily available for use in a moments notice.
Due to the toll that this plays on energy reserves, Caitians often conserve energy until needed, preferring to lounge and relax whenever possible, and often prefer to rest in short naps ranging from 5 to 15 minutes. It is believed this was to help their ancestors stay alert for possible prey and effectively hunt non-stop. During these naps, Caitians drop almost immediately into a form of somnambulistic sleep where they appear to drop quickly past delta-wave patterns, falling deep asleep very quickly. The surprising aspect of this, however, is the short amount of time necessary to return to a normal waking beta-pattern. Also surprising is the amount of awareness that maintained during this state. Often, a sleeping Caitian might actually overhear and remember conversations, sounds, smells and other bits of information collected while napping. Most likely this was originally a method used to keep alert for possible prey.
It should be noted, however, that Caitians are unable to maintain this 'nap-mode' for more extended periods of time, requiring longer periods of deep theta rhythms. After about 30 hours, the 'nap' time increased until a six to eight hour sleep is established. Only during these longer periods do Caitians experience REM sleep. As with most races, lack of REM sleep reduces the ability to concentrate.
An interesting side-note: Caitian brain patterns undergo a significant change when they are entering 'Hunting Mode'. There is actually a measurable, marked by long bursts of alpha rhythms, and rational thought is set aside in favor of deeper ingrained instincts. This isn't to say that a Caitian loses control, but instead favors instinct over intellect and allows for a much faster stimulus/response time. This is, however, limited to instinctual habits. No decisions are made, only actions. It is not an entrapping mindset, but more a relaxing, akin to active daydreaming. Also surprising is the fact that a Caitian can move from 'nap mode' to 'hunting mode' and react to defend themselves without conscious thought. Training in control of this process is developed about the time kits (Caitian young) are beginning to walk.
Beyond Caitian control, however is the Caitian tail. Controlled by a highly developed nerve-bundle at the base of the spine, a Caitian's tail works to provide balance without conscious thought. In the modern Caitian, this lack of control often is most prevalent in the tendency of the tail to respond to non-physical stimuli. When the Caitian is 'mentally unbalanced', the tail will often swish back and forth, trying to find balance where it cannot. Because of this, it is said no Caitian can lie to another Caitian. Subtle tail movements noticeable and recognizable only to another Caitian, give much more detailed information. It is less of a 'language', than an empathic sympathy. Caitians describe it as being able to 'feel' what another Caitian is feeling, purely by subconsciously picking up tail motions from others and responding in kind, mentally, and should be considered a more highly developed sense of 'body language'.
Caitians maintain an upright posture; yet still retain the ability to use quadrupedal locomotion. Digitigrade legs involve a shorter femur, fibula and tibia. The 'foot structure' is more simplistic. The heel-structure is not designed for load-bearing weight. Instead, all weight is directed to the toes, leaving the heel-structure floating and allowing the front muscles of the lower leg to further cushion impact and store energy for the next step.
When moving from a crouching position, a great deal of energy is stored in the tight, compact muscles, giving an amazing amount of energy to movement. Activation of these muscles is smooth, efficient and allows for surprising distances to be covered in a single leap.
The strong leg muscles also are exhibited in another familiar trait associated with Caitians; an almost imperceptible footstep. Soft pads of the feet were initially thought to be responsible for the soundless footsteps, but further analysis of the Caitian gate have shown that when taking a step, the footpad comes to rest on the ground with very little force. Weight is not applied to the leading foot until that foot is planted. Only then, is the weight distributed and the center of balance shifted. The strong, digitigrade leg muscles and keen balance make it possible to support full weight on one leg until a firm footing can be established. The reason a Caitian doesn't appear to have a 'footstep' is because there is none.
In contrast, the Plantigrade gate involves the center of balance is often moved forward by the rear foot, before the leading foot rests on the ground. Each step, as a result, stops the body from falling forwards. A strong heel absorbs the impact, and produces a noticeable footstep.
Both toes and fingers of a Caitian retain the claws of their ancestors. As seen in lower felines, the last join in both fingers and toes are responsible for controlling the movement of claws. Long, curved claws are protected between fleshy, fur-lined pads. When the last digit is flexed, the claws curve forwards and are exposed.
The claws are naturally sharp. A cuticle at the base is responsible for the shape, curvature and growth of the claw. Damage to the cuticle will cause a misshapen claw or cease growth all together. The fleshy pads on either side of the claw protect the cuticle and provide essential oils necessary to maintain the delicate tissue.
The claw itself is composed of multiple layers. As the claw grows, the outer layer is shed. This keeps the claws eternally sharp. Sharpening the claws is automatic. As the claw becomes dull, the outer layer is shed to expose a new, fresh layer beneath.
The inner curve of the claw exhibits an edge that narrows to a razor-sharp ridge as it approaches the tip. The edge along the base of the claw lacks this edge. The claw can be used for slashing with surprising ease, but the main purpose of the claw is to pierce easily into the skin, moving along a curved path to hook into flesh. The piercing tip and edge slip in like scalpel and hold tightly onto prey. If the entire inner circle of the claw had the sharp edge at the tip, attempts to hold onto prey would result in the surface skin tearing and not providing the resistance necessary to maintain a secure hold on the prey.
Caitians are actually a less resistant to poisons due to their increased metabolism. One notable poison is Alcohol. Methyl or Ethyl, Alcohol has been known to cause brain damage, nerve damage and serious physical problems to Caitians. It is this reason that even a small sip of alcohol can cause lasting, permenant damage. A good shot of whisky is enough to kill a Caitian. Because of this natural reaction, Caitians often find themselves not only nausiated by the smell of alcohol on someone's breath, but are able to detect even the faintest amounts in food or drink. This ability is an internal warning device, and a gift of survival instincts.
All parts of the Caitain Player's Guidel on this web site is copyrighted, 2001. Use of any material without permission of the author is subject to criminal prosecution. I'm unemployed, broke, have a few hungry lawers in my family, and could really use a nice court settlement. You have been warned.
Ferasa is a planet with one dominant species. Today, these are known as Caitians. Here's the story of how this came to be. Long ago, there were multiple clans: Warrior clans, Religious clans, Trade clans, etc. They all vied for power and dominance and squabbled amongst themselves. More time was spent arguing over how things should be done than it would have taken to do things each different way.
Suddenly, a few clans began to inter-marry. This resulted in a great many expressed claws, growls and heated debates. Still, the pride of their clan and the love of their clan-mates forced them to accept the union between clans as valid.
This became the way to form alliances between clans. Soon, there were only two clans. This lasted for about 30 years until love broke that divide and united the last two remaining clans together. Of course, Elders grumbled. However, a strong sense of honor of family prevented even mild comments from being voiced. Ferasa was united under one clan. Naturally, the bickering began as to what now to call it. "The Clan" was born.
About 80 yrs after The Clan was formed, the first warp-tests were done. Instead of using warp technology for ships, Ferasa had been developing technology for long-distance probes. No one on Ferasa had any real desire to leave the planet, but curiosity got the better of them.
The Clan already had impressive communications technology, and in order for warp probes to be of any use, subspace communications were necessary. So, instead of venturing out into space, the inhabitants of Ferasa sent out probes and sat back and watched.
One of the early Starfleet research facilities intercepted one of these probes and communications began. Various bits of Ferasan culture were sent. These included bits of music, a great many poems about love of family and home, and images of home life. The rules of first-contact were pretty-much thrown out the window as scientists, not diplomats, originally began discussions with Ferasa. Instead, it was Ferasan scientist to Starfleet scientist. Science knows little prejudices.
Ferasa Joins Starfleet
Among Starfleet, the chatter had already labeled the Ferasans as "Cat People". Starfleet representatives were shoved on a ship and rushed off to undo the damage those bloody scientists had already done. By the time that the diplomats had arrived, Ferasa had already supplied its written language and was working on their first prototype of a translator.
Starfleet was greeted with open arms. This was Ferasa's first off-world visitor. Negotiations got off to a bumpy start as Starfleet ambassadors were treated to a hunting display followed by, as one put it, "...the most ghastly display ever witnessed". The hunt was simply a fancy way of catching that evening's meal. Of course, the new guests were offered the livers, guts, and choicest bits of the kill.
Still, Ferasa was impressed by another race that had set aside its inter-species differences and that had united under an idea that linked very closely to their own beliefs. Thus, Ferasa became a Federation World.
Starfleet was more than pleased at the idea of Ferasa joining, as the entire system was rich in minerals and offered a great many trade resources. There was only one rule that The Clan insisted on. There was to be no settlement of Ferasa.
Already, The Clan had faced the possibility of overcrowding. Ferasa is a huge, lush, and vibrant planet. This was their home, and would be always. While they had no objections to visitors, they insisted that there always be space on Ferasa for members of The Clan.
It was only after joining, and after a full language translation had been done, that The Clan discovered the name Starfleet had used for the system; Alpha Lyncis. This intrigued them. Asking what the first-contect scientists had called The Clan speices, "Cat-ians" was the hurried reply sent back. As the native Ferasan tongue was less harsh, the word Caitian ("Kay-shen") purred from the translator. So, to further honor their new friends in Starfleet, The Clan had finally chosen a name.
In the words of the Ferasan philosopher/poet R'sham,
"We are one family. We are one heart. The mother Ferasa embraces her offspring. Caitian is our name."
Since that day, Ferasa has been a staunch supporter of Starfleet and all that it stands for. While Caitians in general cannot stand to leave their beloved clan or homeworld, A few have followed with Starfleet.