For centuries, we’ve been obsessed with cats. From superstitions about black cats crossing our paths, to whole musicals about them, cats are an intrinsic part of Western and Eastern culture. They’ve moved into our homes, our hearts, and even our literature and popular culture. From comic strips in the newspapers, to feature films, cats pop up everywhere and their popularity as fictional characters shows no signs of waning. Here are just a few of our favorite fictional cats from books, cartoons, film and more.
Beginning life in 1978 as a comic strip in a newspaper, Jim Davis’ feline creation Garfield is now in best-selling books, cartoons and even feature films. Garfield has been on the cover of People Magazine hailed as ‘America’s Number 1 Pussonality’ and has even won his creator several Emmy Awards. The record-breaking cat’s popularity has remained pretty much constant, and at 40 years old, Garfield is as laid-back and lovable as ever.
With an even older pedigree than Garfield, 1960s classic Top Cat has had a recent revival in a series of British TV adverts for a bank. Top Cat and Officer Dibble are once again at loggerheads, this time over his iconic trash-can home. The ad cleverly mixes Top Cat animated characters into live-action film, for a comedic touch to this advertising campaign. Top Cat is the ultimate cheeky con-cat; street smart and just about keeping out of serious trouble. Kind of like many real cats we know!
Puss in Boots
Who can resist those huge, glossy eyes peering up at them? Puss in Boots from the Shrek franchise has become one of the most loved movie cats ever, probably because he swings from fierce to friendly just like our real cats do! Puss is based on the original ‘Puss in Boots’, a European fairy tale about a miller’s son who sets out to seek his fortune after only receiving a cat as his inheritance. Just like Puss from Shrek, this cat is smart, cunning and manages to set the poor miller’s boy up as a Marquis who wins the heart of the princess.
The Cheshire Cat
Eternalized by Lewis Carroll, the Cheshire Cat from children’s classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ is a creature of mystery and madness. Frequently disappearing only to leave his huge grin behind, the Cheshire Cat epitomizes the craziness of the weird world Alice has found herself in, where nothing makes sense. The Cheshire Cat has been brought to life on the screen many times since the 1865 novel, from the 1951 Disney animated film to Tom Burton’s more recent colorful reimagining. The phrase, ‘To grin like a Cheshire cat’ is actually way older than the Lewis Carroll novels, possibly originating in the 1700s. It was used to describe someone who showed all their teeth when grinning, like a cat caught in the creamery.
The Cat in the Hat
Dr. Seuss’ immortal creation, The Cat in the Hat, has no other name than this and is a naughty trouble-causer who arrives to make mayhem with children when parents are away! The book came out in 1957 to instant critical acclaim, partly because there was finally a book for young kids that was a little bit mischievous and full of the weird and wonderful. Having the cat as the ambassador for this seems highly appropriate; after all, most cats are a little bit naughty at times!
Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a gem of a movie from Japanese anime giants Studio Ghibli. A sweet coming-of-age tale, this movie sees young witch Kiki moving to the big city with nothing but her broom and her faithful cat, Jiji. Jiji is smart, loyal and will do anything for Kiki. He can talk, but only Kiki can understand him. I think all of us feel that way about our cats at times. One of the sweetest animated fictional cats, Jiji is a jet-black charmer of a kitty who even has a special way with the lady cats!
Baron Humbert von Gikkingen
What a mouthful that name is! One of the most popular fictional cats of Japanese cinema, ‘The Baron’ initially appeared in Whisper of the Heart, a 1995 movie based on the Manga cartoon of the same name. The Baron is a statue in an antique shop, and a girl called Shizuku makes him into a character in her stories. The Baron was so popular, he became a primary character in the 2002 movie The Cat Returns, in which he helps the hapless protagonist Haru escape the Cat Kingdom. Suave and sophisticated, the Baron is very Abyssinian like, especially as he is definitely an action cat!
Ok, so this cat is actually a robot; a robot cat who helps his owner travel through time to save his family’s future. Cute, blue, and funny, as fictional cats go this one is pretty unique. The 2014 Japanese movie, Stand By Me Doraemon, was a massive box office hit, keeping the number one spot for five weeks!
Very few fictional cats are as grumpy or as large as Muta, also known as Moon or Renaldo Moon. Appearing in both Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns (just like The Baron), Muta is a huge, hungry, sarcastic lump of a cat who you can’t help but love. In both films, he guides the hero to the help she needs in the shape of The Baron, but in The Cat Returns, Muta gains a much more integral role and becomes an indispensable but accident-prone member of the team.
The Cats of Neko Atsume House
A story of a struggling writer, Neko Atsume House is a 2017 movie done in an almost documentary style. This live-action offering follows Masaru as he moves into a big old house, and is soon adopted by one of the local strays. Masaru finds that the cat brings him out of his slump, and he researches how to make his new cat friend happy. He ends up enticing a whole load of stray cats of all different types and colors. The film follows their antics as they play and roam the house just as closely as it follows the human angle of the story, making this film a must for cat lovers everywhere.
What other cats from Western and Eastern culture can you think of? Want to share your favorites with us? Tell us all about it in the comments below!