Ever have a cat look past you over your shoulder and hiss, whether or not there was actually anything there? There’s a reason why I prefer birds, dogs, and pot-belly pigs in that order before considering a cat as a suitable pet while aboard a spaceship.
Jonsey the cat from Alien (and Aliens) did everything a creepy feline could within its power to make sure that the crew of the Nostromo got murdered by the Xenomorph. This included distracting them, sending mixed signals as to the local threat level, and even leading one crew member to his death. It’s as if the little bugger had some kind of pact with the alien, an unwritten agreement to get back at the crew for bringing it along into space aboard a ship that seemed damp and unpleasant. Cats remember these slights.
Alien filmed with five cats cast in the same role, all ginger American Shorthairs. A sixth and larger cat was used for Jonesey’s part in the sequel Aliens. For that movie James Cameron had to scrap a scene where the cat was supposed to jump after a holographic bird inside Ripley’s apartment. The uncooperative animal actor refused to dive into a wall.
Ridley Scott, the director of Alien, wanted to get a better reaction out of the cat for one of the Xenomorph’s appearances. To do this, he had a German Shepherd hidden behind a screen and revealed it to the cat for the reaction that the director desired.
Early in Alien‘s production, Sigourney Weaver had a skin reaction she attributed to the cats and thought she might have to drop from the movie until she discovered it was only a reaction to the glycerin applied to her by the makeup department to give her the hot and sweaty look. The cats being fired didn’t seem to be a consideration.
When we consider the fortunes of the characters in the films, Jonesey is the only one to survive. Cats may be irritating, but no one can accuse them of not knowing when to stay home.