Sthondat are a (presumably) non-sentient species who originate from somewhere within the part of Known Space that is ruled by the Kzin Patriarchy. It is possible that the species is native to the same planet as the Kzin. Little is known about the Sthondat as only a few non-Kzinti individuals, all who were prisoners of the Kzin, have actually seen a Sthondat. The Kzin do not publicize any information on the Sthondat, possibly due to their reliance on the species as a source of power for their telepaths. The link between Kzin telepaths and the Sthondat is one of the only facts that has been established in regards to this rare creature.
The name Sthondat is a Kzinti word which translates literally as "unfit for Kzinti consumption." This moniker refers to the atrocious taste of the creatures flesh which is more than enough to repulse even the most voracious predators. The Sthondat is looked at as something of a trash animal: pests that are to awful to consume. Due to this classification, Sthondat is a term which is commonly sprinkled into a large variety of insults and put-downs.
Use By Kzinti Telepaths Edit
The Sthondat is known to have a gland, sometimes called a "lymph node", which produces a special chemical substance interacts in several unique ways with Kzinti physiology. Whenever a Kzintosh begins to show the potential for possessing greater than normal telepathic ability, he is isolated and forced to undergo a grueling regimen of drug treatments primarily involving ingesting copious amounts of the Sthondat's special chemical. This is intended to bring out and amplify the telepathic abilities that lie dormant in every Kzinti, though only a small percentage of those who undergo the treatment go on to become telepaths with the rest either dying in agony or completely losing their sanity. The select few who survive are left their own psychological scars as well as a lifelong addiction to the sthondat drug. In return, their latent telepathic abilities are unleashed and amplified to a huge degree. The sthondat addiction and the physical toll it places on the user are a steep price to pay for the power bestowed on the survivors. Even the strongest telepaths avoid the drugs unless they are required to use them as the effects are so potent. One dose can last up to eight hours and requires an extensive period of recuperation if the telepath wishes to avoid serious irreversible damage to their system. Using the power of telepathy is itself very painful for both the telepath and the target. The target will often experience seizure like systems and intense rolling pain in the head and neck, sometimes even leading to loss of consciousness. Kzinti telepaths are easily identified by their unkempt appearance, matted fur, and bouts of shivering. They sleep for most of their leisure hours. The painful and health damaging effects of both telepathy and the drug used to amplify the ability both contribute to the haggard appearance of Kzin telepaths.
The drug enables a trained telepath to reach out and touch minds as far away as 2500 kilometers. No known sentient is immune to the effects of the Kzin telepaths with the exception of the Bandersnatchi and possibly the Thrint (due to their own telepathic abilities).
Telepaths endure a low-caste position in society, just above the status of slaves, with the occasional slave being considered of a higher social status.Their bedraggled, distraught appearance is shameful for a Kzinti. Telepaths rarely, if ever, earn a name, and they aren't legally allowed to breed.They are looked down upon by the warrior class, but are tolerated because of how heavily the Patriarchy depends on them both for military uses and the day by day administration of the Kzin within the Patriarchy.
Due to the reliance on the sthondat gland to produce and utilize telepaths, most information about the creatures is kept secret. An entire industry exists to raise and maintain a large enough population of sthondat to meet the demands of the Patriarchy. As with other information about the creatures, the process by which the chemical is gleaned is a carefully protected state-secret.