The Kel'Mestath("People-Friend") might, at first glance, pass for an exceptionally large earth housecat; a lean and furry quadruped with feline ears and paws, and a more heavily built, prehensile tail, shorter than its earthen counterpart. It isn't until the second glance and the chance to watch it walk that the barreled chest and simian legs become apparent, the longer, clawed toes and opposable thumb, enough to grip a branch, to run and even brachiate through the forest cover of Regar becomes apparent.

It is common for the Mestath to be kept as domestic pets, and the breeds kept for this purpose tend to range between approximately 10 and 30 kg. Historically, they were often expected to hunt small prey in Regar communes, or were given a share of the kill when used as hunting animals by the wandering clans of the females, however, in modern times, they are often fed a diet analogous to kibble, and entertained with a variety of toys that a human might consider overbuilt... except in the case of a human that has had the misfortune of supplying a panther with entertainment.

Energetic, curious, and easily pack-bonded to owners and family, the Mestath is considered extraordinarily trainable, capable of learning a wide variety of behaviors and commands, usually in a bare few sessions. With care and attention, multiple steps and some decision making training is possible. The Mestath is often fiercely protective of its owners, and is surprisingly able to read the tones and expressions of the Kel around it. Harm to the Kel that the Mestath have bonded to is almost unheard of, except in the case of animal abuse. Unfortunately, misinterpretations of alien body language, and attendant maulings, are known to happen, and these are unexpectedly lethal. Besides this tractability, the behavioral pattern of the Mestath is often noted to be very similar to earth cats - climbing, clawing, and chewing are the hallmarks of a bored Mes, and they will seek frequent physical contact from bonded Kel. Leash training is generally considered to be difficult to impossible, and although some few indivudals can take to the lead, most are ferocious pullers, which can be dangerous given the relative strength and agility of the creature.


What is not shared with the galaxy at large is the truth of the relationship between the Kel'Regar and their "friends". In evolutionary terms, the Mestath is the closest surviving relative of the Kel, not unlike the relationship between humans and the great apes. Many 'working breeds' of the species are capable of simple tool use and a simple, pidgin version of their handlers language, and may, or may not, be classified as sophonts, depending on the classifier. As many things biological and social are not absolutes, but matters of degree, the question of Mestath intelligence is open, and presents ethical thorns to both Kel societies at large, and their relationship to other species, for are they domestic animals and pets? Or are they people and therefore slaves? Either answer may be correct...

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