It’s the national holiday we like to celebrate year-round. August 8 marks International Cat Day and we’re celerbating like every day is Caturday as we pay homage to the big screen’s greatest cat stars.
Whether you’re marking the special occasion with a hug from your favourite feline friend today – or any day of the week – we’re sharing our picks for cinema’s top cats. From the fluffy and friendly felines to the aloof and calculating cats, cozy up with your best purring pal and celebrate some of our favourite feline performers on film.
But sorry Simba, we’re only paying homage to the real, domesticated feline stars of film.
Buttercup – “The Hunger Games” Series
There’s no love lost between the “hideous-looking” Buttercup and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). These two will only agree on one thing: their love of Katniss’ sister, Prim. There seems to be no satisfying Buttercup, who appears to regard his move to a fancy new home in the Victor’s Village in with extreme distaste. The original black-and-white Buttercup from the franchise’s first installment was recast at author Suzanne Collins’ request to the fluffy orange version in the latter films, aligning with the cat’s description in her books. It’s not until the death of their beloved Prim that Katniss and Buttercup are finally able to see eye-to-eye as they seek comfort in each other’s embrace.
Church – “Pet Sematary”
“Pet Sematary” teaches us two valuable lessons: never live on an ancient Indian burial ground and dead cats are best left to chase mice in kitty heaven. While it’s never fun to lose a beloved pet, resurrecting your dearly departed fluffy friend probably isn’t a good idea either. The Stephen King adaptation proves that some cats should just be happy with the nine lives they’re given.
Cat – “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”
We all like bad boys, even in cat form. The “poor slob without a name” in the 1961 Audrey Hepburn classic had both a name, and a bad reputation on set. Orangey the cat was called “the world’s meanest cat” by one studio exec, due in part to his nasty habit of biting and scratching the actors during the film’s production. But Hollywood rarely has a problem with bad boys who are able to hit their mark: Orangey was praised for his ability to ‘stay’ for several hours while filming, even putting up with a downpour.
Jones – “Alien”
If NASA sent cats on their space mission, more people would sign up to become astronauts. In “Alien” and “Aliens”, Jones the cat is Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) precious cargo aboard the Nostradamus. While the Xenomorph alien has its sights set of Ripley and her fellow crew, it can’t be bothered to give even a second glance towards the tomcat. Sure, Jones may be partly responsible for the death of a fellow crew member at the hands of the alien-being, but one look at his furry face and all is forgotten. He was probably a dog lover, anyway.
Tonto – “Harry And Tonto”
As the titular Tonto, this orange tabby is the beloved companion of the elderly Harry. Tonto is no spring chicken himself, as the old friends embark on a cross-country road trip in search of a new home after their apartment building is condemned. Art Carney won an Oscar for his role as Harry in the 1974 film, however the Academy failed to recognize Tonto. Does this cat look familiar? He’s Orangey, the star of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and a two-time winner of the Patsy Award, an honour that recognizes animal actor.
Mr. Jinx – “Meet The Parents”
Some people prefer cats to humans. In “Meet The Parents”, Robert De Niro’s Jack Byrnes, definitely prefers the company of the Himalayan-Persian Mr. Jinx to that of his daughter’s boyfriend, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller). And you can’t really blame him after Focker points the finger at the cat for his numerous faux pas, even going as far as to replace Mr. Jinx with an impostor cat. Plus, it’s not everyday we get to see a cat flush a toilet. Mr. Jinx didn’t let fame get to his head, returning for the “Meet The Parents” sequels.
Sassy – “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”
Tiki the cat shares most of her screen time with two canine pals in the 1993 family film, “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” and it’s sequel. Voiced by Sally Field, this kitty goes on the adventure of a lifetime in search of her family. She’s the typical aloof feline, prone to bouts of vanity, but proves she’ll be there to lend a paw – even to a dog – when the going gets tough.
Ulysses – “Inside Llewyn Davis”;
No wonder they call him Ulysses. “Inside Llewyn Davis'” cat is the catalyst for his own odyssey and that of folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) in this Coen Brothers’ film. The directing brothers even joked that they threw the cat into the film because they didn’t have much of a plot. Played by a trio of marmalade-coloured cats, the tabby companion of the titular folk hero gets more screen time than some of his more well-known human co-stars.
Mrs. Norris and Crookshanks – “Harry Potter” Series
Ron Weasley may have a thing or two against Hermione Granger’s ginger cat Crookshanks, but Harry and co. definitely owe her a big thank you. The fluffy feline was not only responsible for making friends with Sirius Black, but also for rooting out Voldemort’s rat, Peter Pettigrew. Crookshanks is hardly the only cat in the Potter universe. Caretaker Argus Filch has the luxurious-coated Mrs. Norris to keep a watch over the hallowed Hogwarts’ halls, acting as a tattle-tale when the caretaker is otherwise occupied. The poor beast was even petrified after catching a glimpse of the Basilisk in “Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets”.
Blofeld’s Cat – “You Only Live Twice”
The white Persian without a name is is the beloved pet of James Bond villain Ernst Starvo Blofeld in 007 films “You Only Live Twice”; and “Thunderball”, among others. Even when Blofeld isn’t around, the cat serves as a harbinger of villainy whose fame almost eclipses that of his owner. The nameless cat made his return to the big screen in “SPECTRE”, appearing in Christoph Waltz’s lair, cementing Waltz as a new incarnation of an old villain.
Mr. Bigglesworth – “Austin Powers” Trilogy
Cryogenic freezing may have worked wonders for Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, but it’s not so great for cats. Poor Mr. Bigglesworth, the once long-haired Persian cat companion of Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) is transformed into the bald lap cat of the equally bare-headed evil genius in the “Austin Powers”; trilogy. A hairless cat named Ted Nude-Gent played the role of Mr. Bigglesworth in all three “Austin Powers”; films. Like swinging super-spy Austin Powers, Mr. Bigglesworth is an homage to the Bond series, notably the cat of villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, appearing on screen before we get our first glimpse at the mad genius. Mr. Bigglesworth isn’t without a temper. As we all know, when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, people die. And just as Dr. Evil has his Mini Me, Mr. Bigglesworth has his Mini Mr. Bigglesworth, a hairless Sphynx kitten.
Don Corelone’s Cat – “The Godfather”
A stray cat became one of film’s most-iconic felines. When director Francis Ford Coppola found the stray kitty on the set of “The Godfather”, he handed it over to star Marlon Brando simply to see what the method actor would do with this improvised prop. What does anyone do when a cat is thrust into their lap? Brando simply held the cat in his lap, stroking it – perhaps with a little too much feeling – resulting in the happy cat purring so loudly, it muffled the actor’s dialogue. The peaceful purrs had to be toned down in post-production.
Milo – “Milo & Otis”
Unlikely friends Milo the cat and Otis the dog go on the journey of a lifetime. Inspired by The Incredible Journey, this Japanese production was trimmed and reconfigured for an English-language release. Because filming took over four years, the role of Milo was shared by up to 20 kittens, but who can tell them apart? Orange tabby cats obviously look great on camera because that’s a whopping seven orange cats on our list of cinema’s top cats.
Blanche – “Hausu”
Guaranteed to be the weirdest movie you’ve ever seen, the Japanese “Hausu” (“House”) is a psychedelic trip more bizarre than you can even imagine. A surreal white cat is at the heart of this horror film which sees a demonic house devour schoolgirls alive. When the white cat in question isn’t coming alive via ghost-like animated superimpositions or playing the piano, it’s spewing mass quantities of vile liquid out of it’s mouth as a painting on the wall. For a nation obsessed with cats, this is certainly as weird as it gets. Just how bizarre is this cult film? We can’t even show you more than a gif.
Binx – “Hocus Pocus”
Thackery Binx was a simple 17th century farm boy before a trio of witches turned him into a talking cat. With screen time split between a live black cat and a look-alike puppet, this immortal cat is cursed with more than nine lives… which is a good thing when he meets the wrong end of a bus. Through Binx’s help, a group of kids are able to outwit the witchy Sanderson sisters, saving Halloween and their sleepy town.
Clovis And Friends – “Sleepwalkers”
Stephen King must really like cats. Between “Sleepwalkers”, “Pet Sematary”, and “Cat’s Eye”, that’s three novels-turned-movies based on his writings with cats that are central to the film’s plot. While “Cat’s Eye” focuses on short vignettes connected by a travelling cat, it’s cats who are the real heroes of “Sleepwalkers”. Led by a cat named Clovis, the cats of “Sleepwalkers” are the only ones who can see the true nature of the “werecats”, the shape-shifting vampires who prey on virgins. The movie proves that the best line of defense against vampires is a purring cat in your lap.
Jake – “The Cat From Outer Space”
If aliens ever invade our planet, let’s hope they take the form of cats. Jake, the titular “Cat From Outer Space,” is a sleek Abyssinian with a collar that allows him to communicate telepathically with humans in the 1978 live-action Disney film. Of course, since talking alien space cats unfortunately don’t exist, the movie had to improvise with a voice over. That means at least a quarter of the film’s running time is made up of shots of a pretty kitty staring into the camera.