In Almea, hominids don’t originate from primates but from an amphibian ancestry… So, I was wondering if it was possible to imagine human-like aliens descending from feline-like aliens.

—Opera

Oh dear, you want to create furries, don’t you?  Well, you certainly can imagine it… it’s common enough in sf/fantasy.  Though why does everyone pick cats, wolves, and foxes?  Capybaras, bonobos, wallabies, and platypuses could use more love.

Or do you mean, can you do it plausibly?  That depends on whether you’re writing fantasy or sf.  In fantasy, humanoids are the norm and need no justification.  Fantasy is more about the sense of wonder, or even spiritual or metaphysical exploration; it’s not hung up about biology.

Lots of sf is fantasy-with-phasers; but in theory sf is supposed to be scientific, and there’s little excuse for humanoids— except for the low budgets of TV shows.  Looking around our planet, it’s striking how varied are the animals even within one particular niche— among medium-large herbivores, for instance, we find deer, ostriches, and kangaroos.  Intelligent species should show at least that amount of variety.  The humanoid form, with its long thin limbs, derives from primate brachiation; a species that never lived in the trees shouldn’t look like us.  (And other common attributes of sf humanoids, such as breasts and lack of body hair, aren’t even shared with the other great apes.) 

Think about behavior, too… primates are intensely social creatures, and that was probably the engine for the development of our intelligence, such as it is.  A mostly solitary animal like a cat isn’t likely to go that route.  Lions might work better.  I also suspect that it’s not coincidence that we’re omnivores.  Omnivores have to be more adaptable… also more active; both characteristics could also facilitate intelligence.

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