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"If we are captured, the Highest of Kzin will repudiate us. But if we succeed, you are meat for our tables!"

The Kzinti were a species of aggressive, cat-like humanoids native to the Alpha Quadrant planet Kzin.


In the late 21st century, the Kzinti fought four wars against Humankind, and lost all of them. In the course of these conflicts, some Kzinti tasted Human meat. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")

In Larry Niven's original short story, "The Soft Weapon", from which the Kzinti were adapted into Star Trek, the first such war was fought with sublight vessels, and the Kzinti could only be defeated thanks to Earth acquiring technology that enabled faster-than-light travel. However, Star Trek: First Contact establishes that Earth's first recognized encounter with extraterrestrials occurred immediately after Zefram Cochrane's first manned warp flight in 2063, and VOY: "Friendship One" establishes that the titular probe was launched in 2067 with Humans still having "no idea" what threats lay in space, so the Kzinti would not seem to have been known to them before that point.

In "The Slaver Weapon", Hikaru Sulu simply states that the last war between Kzinti and Humans "was two hundred years ago" from the standpoint of 2269.

In 2269, Dr. Keniclius 5 cited the need to subdue the depredations of hostile species including the Kzinti as his justification for planning to create a "master race" consisting of an army of giant Spock clones. (TAS: "The Infinite Vulcan")

Among the members of the Ruling Council in the pocket universe of Elysia were Kzinti. (TAS: "The Time Trap")

Later in 2269, Kzinti archaeologists discovered two Slaver stasis boxes on Kzin. One of these boxes was turned over to Starfleet. The Kzinti kept the other for themselves, only to find it empty. With the secret support of the Kzinti government, a plan was devised to reacquire the former box from Starfleet's custody, one which would be disavowed by the Highest of Kzin in the event of its failure.

By this time, the Kzinti government was bound by the Treaty of Sirius which forbade them all weapons apart from police vessels.

Kzinti ambush 2

Kzinti privateers ambush the crew of the Copernicus in the Beta Lyrae system, using illegal phasers

On stardate 4187.3, as the USS Enterprise's shuttlecraft Copernicus was transporting the box to Starbase 25, a group of Kzinti privateers, led by Chuft-Captain and operating from an ostensibly stolen police vessel, the Traitor's Claw, lured the shuttle to a small, ice-bound world in the Beta Lyrae system, using the empty box as bait. In illegal possession of phasers, the privateers ambushed the shuttle's crew of three Starfleet officers, imprisoning them in a police web and confiscating the unopened box in hopes of finding within it a weapon.

Kzinti investigate Slaver weapon

Kzinti investigate the Slaver weapon

The Kzinti indeed found a Slaver weapon among the box's contents, but were initially frustrated and confused by its variable functions. In testing one of its settings, the privateers unwittingly nullified the effect of their own police web, allowing Commander Spock and Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu to escape with the weapon. Chuft-Captain was wounded by Spock in the process, and thus humiliated.

The Kzinti offered a bargain in which they would trade the life of their remaining prisoner, Lieutenant Uhura, for the return of the weapon, on the condition that Spock allow Chuft-Captain to regain his honor by facing him in personal combat. Although the Starfeet officers refused this offer, the Kzinti nevertheless managed to recapture them and the weapon when the pair inadvertently unlocked the device's most powerful setting and were rendered unconscious by the resulting shockwave.

Traitors Claw damaged

The Traitor's Claw disabled, her crew killed

Ultimately, the privateers were undone in their efforts to use the weapon themselves by its own reasoning intelligence. Determining itself to have fallen into enemy hands, the weapon tricked the Kzinti into engaging a self-destruct mechanism, killing the privateers and severely damaging their vessel by generating a disruptor field. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")

Taylor (Ensign)

Kzinti Starfleet officer

At least one Kzinti, an Ensign Taylor, served in Starfleet by 2381. Unlike his species brethren, this Kzinti made a point of maintaining a good Human-like posture to seem more commanding, such as standing up straight. (LD: "Mugato, Gumato", "An Embarrassment Of Dooplers", "The Spy Humongous", "First First Contact", "The Stars At Night")

In 2399, the Kzinti were said to be "causing a little trouble" around Nepenthe. This was part of the reason that the home of William T. Riker and Deanna Troi was outfitted with shields and the ability to perform perimeter scans. (PIC: "Nepenthe")


Kzin Elysian councilor

A Kzinti on the Elysian Ruling Council

Kzinti were bipedal digitigrade felines with orange fur, yellow eyes, pronounced fangs, ears resembling bat wings, four-fingered hands, and long tails. Males stood over two meters tall, with broad hunching shoulders and comparatively slender waists and limbs. Their internal anatomy included ribs with vertical bracing and multiple hearts. They breathed in atmospheres similar to those of Humans and Vulcans. As carnivores, they were acutely averse to the consumption of plants. Their physical attributes made them powerful combatants; Spock estimated his chances of defeating Chuft-Captain in single combat to be no better than sixteen to one.

Kzinti telepath

Kzinti Telepath

Some male Kzinti were capable of reading minds; the effort required was taxing and took time to recover from, often leaving such individuals unhappy and neurotic. There was no sure way to guard one's thoughts from such a telepath, but the experience could be made especially unappealing for the telepath by the subject concentrating intently on images which Kzinti considered distasteful or alien, such as eating a raw vegetable. They are generally treated poorly by other Kzinti and are considered "a necessary evil" at best.(TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")


The Kzinti were an aggressive, carnivorous race, who were disdainful of herbivorous species such as Vulcans, and with only marginally more respect for omnivorous ones such as Humans. Kzinti females were considered "dumb animals" without intelligence, and Kzinti males were thus predisposed to underestimate females of other species.

Kzinti placed great importance on individual honor, being obliged to seek personal revenge upon an attacker before calling for help. To be defeated or wounded and left alive was considered by them the ultimate insult, which could only be remedied by single combat to the death.

The Kzinti had superstitious legends about weapons being haunted by their deceased owners, of which some were frightened.

The Kzinti government was led by the Highest of Kzin. They had police vessels and related equipment for the enforcing of laws, but were disallowed all other weapons by the Treaty of Sirius, yet sought ways of circumventing this and rearming. Other pursuits in which Kzinti engaged included archaeology and astronomy. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")

In Larry Niven's Known Space works, the Kzinti government is known as the Patriarchy. Geoffrey Mandel included an oblique reference to the Kzinti in his Star Trek: Star Charts book under that name.

Kzinti cultural naming conventions were not explicitly discussed in "The Slaver Weapon", but the naming conventions of the characters in the episode corresponded with Niven's descriptions of them in various stories. According to Niven, the Kzinti are not named at birth; they must earn their names through valorous deeds, typically ones that advance the interests of the Patriarchy. Unnamed Kzinti have lower status, and are referred to by the name of their profession, as was Telepath. Single-named Kzinti have distinguished themselves in some manner. A Kzin who has distinguished himself somewhat, but not sufficiently for a full name, might be awarded a “partial name”, which was a name combined with a profession as a suffix—such a one was Chuft-Captain. Kzinti can accumulate multiple names if they continue to perform valorously. [1]




See also[]


Background information[]

Unlike the other alien antagonists of Star Trek, the Kzinti species was an original creation developed independently of the television production, well before their appearances in Star Trek: The Animated Series, which were in 1973. Science fiction author Larry Niven's Kzinti, which were first introduced as part of his Known Space universe in "The Warriors", a short story published in 1966. [2]

After reading Larry Niven's story "The Soft Weapon" and thinking it would be a good fit for Star Trek, D.C. Fontana recommended it to Gene Roddenberry, who agreed. Niven was then invited to adapt his own story into "The Slaver Weapon". According to Fontana, the pink coloration of the Kzinti uniforms and ship in the episode was a result of Director Hal Sutherland being color blind, and thus unable to discern them as anything but shades of gray. [3] However, storyboard artist/character designer Bob Kline laid the blame on color director Irvin Kaplan. "Pink equals Irv Kaplan," shared Kline... "Irv was in charge of ink and paint, coloring the various characters and props (and he would do it himself in his office, he would sit down with a cel and paint it). He was also referred to by many people there as the purple and green guy. You'll see it in a lot of scenes, purple and green used together – that was one of his preferences. He made dragons red, the Kzintis' costumes pink. It was all Irv Kaplan's call. He wasn't listening to anyone else when he picked colors or anything." ("Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series", p. 26)

In Niven's original work, the term "Kzin" was used to refer to the characters individually in the singular form, while "Kzinti" was used for the plural and adjectival forms. As such, the Elysian councilor was identified by the singular term "Kzin" in the final draft script and storyboards for "The Time Trap". Likewise, "Kzin" was also used in the first and final draft scripts of "The Slaver Weapon". While this reflected Niven's intended usage, the singular term was ultimately never used onscreen because the characters were always referred to in the plural in dialogue.

In a biography of M'Ress made available through Lincoln Enterprises in 1974, it was stated that Kzinti and Caitians shared common roots, having long ago split and developed into separate civilizations in much the same manner as Vulcans and Romulans. The Worlds of the Federation by Shane Johnson further posited that Caitians were descended from an ancient Kzinti colony.

Their homeworld of Kzin was subtly included on a star chart created by Mike Okuda that was displayed at Starfleet Headquarters in TNG: "Conspiracy", and which made occasional appearances thereafter in that series, in Kirk's quarters in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and in the classroom on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Linda Fetters, Cat Dancer 2

Linda Fetters as the "Cat Dancer"

It has often been reported, including by Ian McLean, that the "Cat Dancer" played by Linda Fetters in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was jokingly referred to by some backstage source or sources in connection with the film as a "Kzinrrett". [4] In Larry Niven's Known Space works, Kzinrret (plural Kzinrretti) is a term that refers to Kzinti females. Fetters has stated that she herself was unaware of being called this. [5]

Robert Hewitt Wolfe has said that in naming the Tzenkethi, a species first mentioned in DS9: "The Adversary", he may have combined the name "Kzinti" with that of "Tsankth", a deity of piracy in the Glorantha role-playing games. However, Wolfe noted that he could not remember whether he was making an intentional homage to Larry Niven in doing so, and also that he did not imagine the Tzenkethi as felinoid, instead picturing them as "more like the Hakazit [from Jack Chalker's Well World series] ...heavily armored lizard things." [6]

Jimmy Diggs and Kzinti Warrior

Jimmy Diggs with a maquette of a proposed Kzinti redesign

Jimmy Diggs, who contributed a number of stories to both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager (and was a friend of Larry Niven's), was a long-time proponent of the Kzinti returning to Star Trek. He made his first pitch for this in 1994, as an intern on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the following years, he pitched ideas for Kzinti-involved stories so persistently that Brannon Braga came to refer to them as "Jimmy Diggs' Crazy Cats". [7]

Diggs even penned a screenplay for a proposed feature length CGI-animated film entitled Star Trek: The Lions of the Night, which was to involve Captain Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, and the USS Enterprise-B facing a Kzinti invasion. For the purposes of pitching this project, Diggs commissioned of diggs3.html concept art by Court Jones, including a design for a Kzin cruiser called the Dark Stalker. The project had the support of George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, D.C. Fontana, and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, but ultimately failed to capture the interest of Paramount Pictures. [8]

Kzinti vessel c2150s

A proposed design for a 22nd century Kzinti vessel

Undeterred in his fascination with the Kzinti, Diggs later adapted a story idea originated by Neal and Jana Hallford into a teleplay entitled "Kilkenny Cats", which André Bormanis arranged to have Diggs pitch to Manny Coto for a potential fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise. The story was to involve a Kzin juvenile being brought on board Enterprise NX-01, and the design of the Dark Stalker was revised by Josh Finney to fit the 22nd century setting of ENT, incorporating elements resembling components of World War II-era sea and aircraft per Diggs' instruction. [9] Finney created a rough CGI rendering of the vessel for use in pitching the episode. The revised design bears some similarities in its overall arrangement and coloration to 28/ Kzinti spacecraft from the Star Fleet Universe (see "Apocrypha" below).

Jimmy Diggs also created a thirty-five-page "Guide To Using The Kzinti In Star Trek", which he distributed to those whom he described as "key people in the Star Trek and Man-Kzin Wars franchises," including André Bormanis, Brannon Braga, Manny Coto, D.C. Fontana, Larry Niven, Michael Okuda, Jim Baen, and others. This guide included Diggs' ideas of how Kzinti history and culture should fit within the Star Trek universe. [10]

Following Jimmy Diggs' pitch, Manny Coto promised to fight for the reintroduction of the Kzinti on the show, and was so impressed with a Clint Burgin-sculpted maquette of Diggs' proposed redesign for the species that he kept it in his office. However, the series was ultimately canceled after its fourth season. [11]

Diggs subsequently sought to re-adapt "Kilkenny Cats" as an installment of the fan film series Star Trek: Phase II – substituting, by legal necessity, a similar species for the Kzinti – but even that effort was eventually shelved. [12]

When asked how the Kzinti reference in the Star Trek: Picard "Nepenthe" came to be, Michael Chabon responded by saying:

"I sent a fan email to Larry Niven – one of the writers whose work inspired me to want to become a writer, as a kid – and asked his permission to include a reference to his battle-and-honor obsessed Kzinti, who as you know crossed over in one episode of TAS – blowing my ten-year-old, Niven-and-Trek obsessed mind – and also, I've always suspected, helped inspire TNG's reinvention of the Klingons. Mr. Niven very graciously said that would be okay." [13]


Kzinti in novels[]

Star Trek Log 5, by Alan Dean Foster, begins with a flashback scene of M'Ress' career in Starfleet. Among one of the events is her time as a junior communications officer aboard the USS Hood; the starship was attacked by a Kzin cruiser, killing all of the bridge crew, including the chief engineer, and crippling several systems, including engines and communications. M'Ress, who speaks little Kzinti, volunteers to beam over to the cruiser, which was disabled in a counterattack. The Kzinti are sending a distress call to their homebase, which needs to be cut off, and M'Ress' plan is to recode it to send a distress call from her own crew to a Federation starbase. Her actions result in a promotion to lieutenant after just two years of service and her transfer to the Enterprise. The battle was mentioned in M'Ress' biography by Lincoln Enterprises, where it was stated, "She entered Starfleet just three years ago," placing the event in 2266.

The novelization of "The Time Trap" (in Star Trek Log 4) also mentions Kzinti, when Kirk ponders about the Edoans' ongoing neutrality despite the warlike Klingons, Romulans, and Kzinti nearby.

Pocket TOS novel Ishmael, by Barbara Hambly, additionally references the Kzinti. In the book, Maria Kellog, the commanding officer of a particular starbase, is established as having served as chief engineer of the USS Republic. She was one of six Human crewmembers aboard that craft; the rest were Orions, Kzinti, and Trisk. (Chapter 7, Ishmael) Later, Kellogg and Kirk pass two Kzinti in the starbase's corridors, and Kellogg greets them in their native tongue. (Chapter 13, Ishmael)

Kzinti in the Star Fleet Universe[]


The Star Fleet Universe Kzinti have cat ears, no tails, and an "s" at the end of their plural species name

The Kzinti race in the Star Fleet Universe – which has traits setting them apart from the Kzin of Larry Niven's works – has fought wars with all of their neighbors, the Federation, the Klingon Empire and their perennial nemesis, the Lyran Star Empire. They are long-standing allies – or more accurately, co-belligerents – of the Hydran Kingdoms.

The Kzinti Hegemony eventually formed a tentative accord with the Federation, and allied with them in the General War, but they have been involved in major wars with the Klingons and Lyrans, such as the Four Powers War and the General War itself, in which a substantial region of their territory was occupied by their Coalition enemies and two full-scale assaults were made on the Kzinti homeworld of Kzintai.

Eventually, with Federation assistance, they forced the Coalition forces from their territory, but after the war ended, they were involved in a civil war as a disgruntled faction – which had been opposed to the Hegemony's ruling patriarch, sought refuge, developed a power base in the WYN Cluster, and launched an attempted coup of the Hegemony itself in the WYN War of Return.

Also, in a fictional variant of the Star Fleet Universe as represented in the games Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War and Star Trek: Starfleet Command - Orion Pirates from Taldren, the Kzinti were renamed and re-interpreted as the more canine Mirak.

Other appearances[]

The Kzinti also made brief appearances in the 1 March 1982 to 17 July 1982 Star Trek newspaper comic strip The Wristwatch Plantation, by Sharman DiVono and Larry Niven, with art by Ron Harris. The story involved Kzinti starting an invasion in the 2270s. The authors considered publishing the story as a novel or comic book. [14] However, this did not happen.

According to Who's Who in Star Trek 2, the USS Hood (NCC-1703) stopped a proposed invasion of Federation space by the Kzin.

The Ferasan playable species in the Klingon Faction in Star Trek Online are stand-ins for the Kzinti in that game. Due to legal issues, the developers could not obtain the rights from Larry Niven to use the species in the game. As previously mentioned in the "biography of M'Ress" concerning the Kzinti, background information in the game reveals that the Ferasans and the Caitians were originally one single species. However, violent disagreements about how to employ genetic engineering forced the Caitians to relocate to another planet, Cait. Unlike Kzinti, Ferasan females are fully sentient.

External links[]