We are speciesists. Most major religions (save Buddism?) claim only humans have souls.
See also: http://evilbeetgossip.film.com/2009/05/05/just-because-21/
How many non-bipedal species in the Sci-Fi cannon had intelligence?
Search for Spock had whales. Intergalactic whales, just hanging out in our seas waiting, monitoring the health of our planet. Keeping us nicely stocked in whale blubber. Enabling our perfumes to smell very strong, which in a roundabout way adds to the prolificness of our own species.
Fast forward to TNG. Data had a cat. 400 years from know, a cat, no, the cat of a super-duper-smart android, is still just a stupid four legged pur machine? I think not. Roddenberry's agenda had been subsumed.
Birds can see electromagentic fields. We've all had the same amount of time to evolve, some have just had less to fix than others. Alligators, and sharks are arguably much more successfully evolved than humans. Alligators have antibiotics in their blood. Sharks are just freakin' cool (See Austin Powers), and rule at least 200% more Earth Volume than we do.. and birds(representin' dinosaurs) are catching us.
Egyptians thought cats were the gardians of the netherworld. Cats have recently been studied predicting when old folks will pass on. I'm sure Data was smart enough to have figured out what it is about cats that gives them an advantage, besides toxoplasmosis. Or maybe it is the toxoplasmosis bacteria that enables their paranormal abilities. It certainly enslaves those unfortunate of us humans to their will. Regardless, cats probably have the ability to sense through time. "Hey, that old Geezer is kickin' off in a few hours, maybe this time they won't catch on until I've had time to snack off of him."
So what didn't they report about the Rest Home cat? What would Data's cat have been like if Roddenberry were alive? Sadly, we'll never know.
Douglas Adams had the Dolphins leaving just-in-time. Maybe they invented the .NET platform just before they left. Joke's on us.
Not sure where I was going with this, but its time to get back to work...