It’s no secret that cats can be used to improve just about anything in a movie, and the famous “Battle of Hoth” scene in Star Wars’ Empire Strikes Back is no exception. This is because the four-legged mechanical war machines depicted in the movie — AT-ATs, or All Terrain Armored Transports — are an absolutely impractical way of moving troops from one place to another and conducting actual combat operations. Slow, clunky, and prone to making the drivers and troops vomit due to motion sickness, the only real value of an AT-AT is to scare the shit out of people, a capability that quickly wanes once their obvious weakness is discovered: AT-ATs are tippy as hell. This is where cats come to the rescue.
CAT-ATs are a definite improvement over AT-ATs, retaining the intimidation abilities of the original AT-AT design while adding catlike attributes such as balance, dexterity, and speed. Had CAT-ATs instead of AT-ATs been used by the Empire during the assault on Hoth, Luke’s X-Wing could have been pounced upon before its escape to Dagobah and the Millennium Falcon easily swatted from the sky. With two plotlines quickly resolved, the overall running time of the movie could have capped at about 30 minutes, saving the studio millions of dollars. The only drawback of CAT-ATs, in fact, is their proclivity to get distracted by things that have to nothing to do with the original military target or goal. They love to go chasing after whatever wildlife exists on random worlds. Oh, and CAT-ATs do kind of suck at taking orders, too — something no doubt considered by the Empire before opting for more docile technology.