Provolved Felis silvestris catus bioborg superclade
Image from Achaz the Transavant
Early History Although not as intelligent as pigs or dogs, Terragen house cats are still relatively smart mammals and thus good candidates for provolution. For these reasons, cats were provolved and spliced many times in Terragen history but no major sophont clades fully preserved the physical appearance of the baseline species, generally upscaling them, making them bipedal or otherwise noticeably altering their external morphology in some other way.
During the late Age of Consolidation, the interest for fully authentic sapient cats grew among felinophiles and provolution hobbyists wanting to spread such a clade among the Sephirotic Empires but they would have to wait until the Second Federation to see the project truly begin thanks to the wealthy and eccentric Homo Superior Saanvi Bright (born in 3695 a.t) financing, organizing and directing the effort with the help of commissioned Pan-Sophontists bringing with them some well-needed pragmatism.
Membership was very varied with Authenticist, Functionalist and Pan-Sophontist factions competing for influence shaping the clade into what is it today.
Biology Concerns for a clade visually identical to baseline cats and able to thrive without excessive technological support has lead the provolutionist group into using a bioborg solution so they could more easily accomplish their goals. Their DNA is nearly identical to that of their unmodified counterparts besides the removal of deleterious genes, modularization of their genome similar to the one of human nearbaseline clades and the introduction of artificial longevity genes.
Most notably, their brain has been replaced with a biotech processor supplemented by a full compubone skull and biological processors in parts of their spine (for some of their long-term memory and slower mental processes). This bioprocessor is compact and capabable, but still retains the essential cat-like qualities of the ancestor clade. Inheritable bioborg organs, tissues and nanosystems give Bright Cats the equivalent of all common nearbaseline genemods and Superior-like efficient digestion and sleep quality (giving them the same average waking time as humans).
A side-effect of these enhancements is that members of the clade require more than twice as much food as baseline cats, although a Vasculoid Circulatory Replacement System with Technocytes storing nutrients was incorporated in them so they would be able to space out their meals enough to not make it a real inconvenience. Bright Cats can live up to a century without help from an external Medisystem or other Life Extension technologies, and are no more prone to mental aging than nearbaseline humans.
The original Bright Cats had an average intelligence slightly higher than the nearbaseline human norm, though still significantly less than that of most superior clades. They were designed to be Super-learners and to have the Lucky modification for positive thinking; their vision has also been modified to combine the advantages of both human and cat visions while making them tetrachromats. These traits were sufficient to allow the Bright Cats to thrive, even though they were not equipped with handtech, their paws were unmodified and they could not talk except through a Direct Neural Interface.
Common Augmentations Most Bright Cats are generally uninterested in improving themselves physically and will rather use DNI-linked drone robots and other forms of external technologies. Perhaps the most popular augmentation is to upscale their body to support a full Su-level mind and other superior qualities. A minority of BC subclades and individuals have adopted various kinds of Intelligence Amplification, most often by integrating their biotech processor with an exoself or replacing altogether it with a drytech processor for the same purpose.
Bright Cats in general are solitary but not asocial animals, and may form social groups which often become closely-knit. Because Technotelepathy via neural interface is commonplace among BCs, they may form various kinds of group mind, sometimes unintentionally. Modern communities will often impose limits on the technology to avoid results considered undesirable; a popular model is the Tribe Mind, where the individuality of the members is preserved. Less common are Hive-Minded Copygroups where the individuals are completely subsumed by the collective consciousness; this choice is often a precursor to becoming fullypostbiont.
Common Variants Some of the most famous and common Subclades :
Bright Lion and Bright Tiger splices
Metasoft Cyborg & Vec Cats
NoCoZo "Mild Psychoempaths" Feline Clades
Januses, microgravity-adapted extra-flexible Bright Cats with a second face behind their head and four extra limbs on their back
Litter Minds, sibling Bright Cats united since birth with Technotelepathy, either Tribeminds or Hive-Minds depending on the subclade with often augmented single litter size. (Though some rather or also use several litters connected together in very early childhood)
The Wild, S1/S2 Bionano Blight type in the Sagittarius Outer Volumes with Su-Bright Cats and Su-Rianths components. (Although most of the computing bulk is made up of Envomes)
Culture The superclade is diverse but leans towards introversion without outright asociality, Bright Cat cultures often have a surprisingly complex social culture at the level of communities. Familial relationships are less important than for human baselines but mother-children and sibling bonds still tend to be stronger and longer-lasting than those of baseline cats. More generally they can altern between periods of great sociability and periods of complete solitude, with friendships being more based on common interests and mutual enjoyment than a need for social contacts.
Many members of more inherently social clades find them aloof and rude because of how they may be willing to interact with them only when they feel the desire to do so and many Bright Cats see them as being clingy in return but many others learn to accept their differences and form satisfying and long-lasting relationships of all kinds.
Bright Cats often have a sadistic streak but are generally able to express it in ways not hurting other modosophonts, such as hunting real or virtual subsophont preys, and are not much more at risk of becoming criminals in the Sephirotics (compensated with a higher willingness to accept simple psychoware preventing recidivism).
Like other cat provolves, they are likely to live among other clades and cosmopolitan communities but are less often attracted by deep space exploration because of their taste for the luxury of the Civilized Galaxy (more specifically the well-connected and consolidated Middle Regions and the Inner Sphere).
Later History The creators of the clade and their backers were not only concerned with creating it but also spreading the Bright Cats in the Civilized Galaxy, as a triumph of felinophilia and provolution, and the Second Federation was a good period for their objective.
The Version War and other divided eras were generally bad for the growth of the clade, but they still steadily prospered and acquired at least a token presence in all the Sephirotic Empires and several other major polities.
An often forgotten reason for their success is that a surprising number of their patrons eventually ascended and kept some interest in the clade, with the most extreme example being Saanvi Bright herself who founded a large and advanced Bright Cat MPA polity in the Middle Regions : The Bright Transapientocracy.
Text by Achaz the Transavant
Initially published on 15 January 2019.