Data asks Deanna Troi's advice on a feline matter.
Given Spot changed from a Abyssinian male to a tabby male to a tabby female, I decided to just pick one and go with it, rather than hypothesize that Data had multiple cats, all named Spot. Set during the second season. Apologies for any roughness in the voice -- I haven't seen TNG in ages.
Deanna Troi had assumed Data had invited her by for tea and a social call. Considering the many subtitles of social interaction were things the android was still learning, it would not be the first time. But, when he got up to get the tea from the replicator, an animal yowl interrupted him. He paused for a beat -- and if Deanna didn't know him better, she would have read some emotion into it -- and went into the other room.
He came out with a tiny, orange tabby kitten, claws dug into a black sock.
"Data, is he yours?" Deanna asked. She knew several of the crew had taken advantage of the expanded accommodations of the Enterprise to bring pets with them. There had been a few issues -- checking with Engineering regarding air filters, and a number of veterinary diseases that Sickbay needed to read up on. Especially when they turned out to cross-species boundaries. She had heard Doctor Pulaski grousing that she hadn't gone to Starfleet Medical to cut parakeet toenails. But, it was something Deanna supported -- one more way for crew to deal with the sometimes stressful and often boring time on longer missions.
"She is. After making a study of interactions between humans and various sorts of domestic animals, I have decided that the best way to proceed was to acquire one for myself and practice interacting with her. Lieutenant Chatterjee's cat had kittens and she needed to place them before her reassignment." Data had scooped the kitten up into his lap, and was trying to gently unentangle his sock from the kitten's claws. The kitten batted at his fingers playfully. "I fear she is experiencing some separation anxiety. My reading on the subject has suggested that premature weaning can cause undesirable behaviors such as wool-sucking and eating of undesirable household objects." He looked up at Deanna. "This is the third sock I have lost within the last forty-seven hours, since I have brought Spot home. I realize this is not your area of expertise, Counselor, but would you be willing to help with Spot?"
Spot? How... Data-like. Deanna was sure he had found a list of common English-language pet names, cross-checked with existing pets on the Enterprise to avoid confusion. Sometimes it almost made her wince with sympathy the way Data could be so earnest at his desire to understand humans.
It seemed like Doctor Pulaski and the Enterprise's medical staff wasn't the only one having to look after the non-sentient members of the crew. "Well," she said, "I take it you can't return her to her mother until she's ready to be weaned?"
"I am afraid not. Lieutenant Chatterjee is already en route to her assignment on Starbase 42. I assume her cat is traveling with her." Data had set the sock aside, and Deanna could see where the wool had been stretched out of shape, and the broken strands of fiber where Spot's tiny claws had torn stitches loose.
"May I see her?"
"Of course." Data stood up, walked over to Deanna, and placed the kitten onto her lap. Her empathy could pick up the distracted, playful nature of its emotions. She stroked the cat, but felt the pinpricks as Spot decided to nip at her fingers. "Spot! I am sorry, Counselor."
"She'll learn," Deanna said. "You could probably get a spray bottle to keep her away from your socks. Or trying to use her claws and teeth while she's playing. She probably can't break your skin, but I doubt the vet will appreciate that. But she seems like a happy kitten. I'm sure if you just keep paying attention to her, she'll grow out of it." Spot had already squirmed away, and jumped down off her lap.
Data nodded. "It is rather interesting to own a cat. Though Spot seems to be a creature of routine, I have already found myself modifying my own routine to better suit her needs." Spot rubbed against his legs and he reached down to pet her, almost absently.
"Well, you had a roommate at the Academy, didn't you?" Deanna asked. "This wouldn't be the first time you've had to live with another life in your quarters."
"My roommate was Cadet Imosan. He had the habit of rarely returning to our room while awake. And, as a Setapsian, he only slept for three months every solar year. And, after my graduation, I was often the 'odd man out' when making up room assignments for junior officers."
Deanna wondered whether the benefits to placing the two cadets who wouldn't keep each other awake together outweighed the fact Data had missed a part of the Academy experience. Her own roommate had been a learning experience, to put it charitably. "Congratulations on your new roommate."
"Thank you, Counselor."
Again, the sound of meowing came from the other room, and Deanna noticed Spot was no longer near Data. She tried to hide a smile, aware Data would probably pick up on it anyway. "Another sock?"
"So it seems. Excuse me."