The legendary actor and comedian W. C. Fields once urged his cinematic peers to “never work with children or animals,” believing that they were just too unpredictable and unprofessional, but over the years we’ve seen some fantastic examples of both children and animals on the big screen. Cats, in particular, have really stolen the show in more than one movie over the years, from the 1930s all the way up to the present day.
In all their shapes and sizes, movie cats have beguiled and enchanted us time and time again, adding their own unique feline charms to some classic pictures. Everyone tends to be either a cat person or a dog person, but even if you prefer canine companions to feline friends, you’ll still have to admit that these super cats have gone down in cinematic history and can never be forgotten.
So let’s take a look at 50 of the most beautiful movie cats ever seen on screen. Some of them had minor roles, while others were the focus of the entire film. Some were small, others were large. Some were simply animated by professionals while others were real-life cats trained up to provide some amazing performances. They were all different, but they were all fantastic.
We’re heading all the way back to the late 1930s for this incredible movie cat! Bringing Up Baby was directed by Howard Hawks and was all about Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn’s characters finding themselves in some bizarre situations while attempting to look after a tame leopard named Baby.
Initially, the role of Baby was written as a panther, but no trained panthers could be found to appear in the film, so they had to change Baby to a leopard. A leopard named Nissa played the role, but she wasn’t totally tame, almost attacking Hepburn at one point off-camera.
An undisputed classic, The Wizard of Oz, has gone down in history as one of the greatest films ever made, and it was based on one of the most beautiful children’s books ever written. One of the starring performers of the film was the Cowardly Lion, played by Bert Lahr.
As his name implies, the Cowardly Lion is quite meek and timid despite his status as a lion and journeys with Dorothy and the others in the hopes of finding some courage. Lahr’s costume for the film was made of real lion skin, and fur and Lahr got extremely hot while wearing it.
Pinocchio (1940) Pinocchio tells the tale of a little wooden puppet who becomes a real-life boy, and one of the most memorable characters from this beloved Disney classic was Figaro, the cat. Figaro was an adorable black and white cat owned by Geppetto and Pinocchio.
Interestingly, Walt Disney really took a liking to Figaro, calling him his favorite character in the whole film and deciding to include him in a bunch of extra Disney shorts after the film was released and even making him the pet cat of Minnie Mouse herself.
Sticking with the Disney theme, we move on to Cinderella. Released in 1950, this timeless tale also featured an interesting feline character, but this cat wasn’t too friendly! The name of the villainous cat in Cinderella is Lucifer, which is another name for the Devil, and he was owned by the evil Lady Tremaine.
Just like Lady Tremaine and the rest of the family, Lucifer is mean to Cinderella, who tries to stop him eating and attacking the mice that live around the house. As well as appearing in the first Cinderella film, Lucifer also appeared in Cinderella 2 and 3.
Here’s another animated cat that everyone remembers: the Cheshire Cat himself. Easily regarded as one of the most memorable and famous Disney side characters of all time, this pink and purple striped cat appeared in 1951’s Alice in Wonderland.
Really summing up the strangeness of Wonderland and the surprises it has in store for young Alice, the Cheshire Cat is an odd and mysterious character with all kinds of special abilities like being able to change his appearance in a variety of ways. He was voiced by Sterling Holloway, who was also the original voice actor for Winnie the Pooh.
101 Dalmatians was a film with so many dogs in that it’s easy to forget this Disney classic also featured a truly adorable feline character by the name of Sergeant Tibbs. A smart tabby cat, Sgt. Tibbs works alongside the Colonel to help save the dalmatian puppies.
Sgt Tibbs plays a big role in the story, sneakily entering the bad guys’ lair to find the stolen pups and then helping them break out to freedom. He, the Colonel, and the Captain even stay behind to hold off the villains and give the dalmatians time to flee.
An iconic film that is still featured and referenced in popular culture to this day, Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a 1961 romantic comedy and one of Audrey Hepburn’s most famous films.
The cat in this film didn’t actually have a name in the script aside from ‘Cat.’ But it played a big role in the final scene of the film when Holly Golightly (Hepburn) releases her cat into the rainy New York City streets but later changes her mind and chases after it, and her love interest, Paul, finally understanding what she wants to do with her life.
Many people who have never even seen a James Bond film are still familiar with the sight of one particular Bond villain stroking a fluffy white cat. That villain was Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and the cat in question became one of the most iconic images of the entire Bond franchise.
Throughout the film, we constantly see the white cat in Blofeld’s arms. There’s also one scene in which the cat can be seen desperately trying to escape from its owner’s grasp due to all the loud gunfire sounds in the area. Apparently, the cat really did escape from the set at one point, and it took days to find her.
Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ is filled with awesome animal characters like the big bubbly bear Baloo and the hilarious singing and dancing King Louie. Another classic character of the cat variety in The Jungle Book is Bagheera, the panther.
Bagheera is one of the starring characters in the film and almost acts as the foil to Baloo. While Baloo is playful and loves to joke around, Bagheera is more serious and alert, always worrying about Mowgli’s safety. Interestingly, the word ‘Bagheera’ comes from the Hindi language and actually means “black tiger.”
No list of the best movie cats can be complete without referencing The Aristocats. In fact, you could almost make an entire list just about the cats from this classic Disney film, which is all about a family of posh, aristocratic cats who are taken from their luxury home and forced to fend for themselves.
Almost all of the characters in this film are cats, and everyone has their favorite. Thomas O’Malley, the alley cat who befriends the Aristocats, is always a popular pick, with Scat Jat, O’Malley’s best friend, also being very popular due to his groovy music and fun-loving nature.
For many people, The Godfather is the best movie ever made, and even those who have never seen the film know some of its most famous lines and scenes. One of those famous scenes features a fashionable feline in a starring role.
When the film begins, we see Don Corleone sitting at his desk on the day of his daughter’s wedding and petting a grey cat that sits on his lap. Funnily enough, the cat was never meant to be in the film at all but the director, Francis Ford Coppola, saw one running around set and decided to include it.
A hilarious sci-fi comedy movie, The Cat from Outer Space, was produced by Walt Disney Productions and directed by Norman Tokar. It tells the story of a cat-like alien called Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7, who is simply called Jake for most of the film.
Since he’s actually an alien, this cat has superpowers like telepathy and telekinesis, and the film is all about him crash landing on Earth and trying to repair his ship to get back home. It’s quite an entertaining movie, and the cat features in almost every scene so had to be highly trained to pull off such an important performance.
An undisputed classic of the sci-fi horror genre, Alien, changed the way we thought about extra-terrestrial life and gave us that incredible tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The movie also featured a classic cat character named Jones.
Jones was played by four different cats throughout the film and helped to push the plot along, even being responsible for a couple of jump-scares along the way. One scene shows him hissing at the alien life-form on the ship, and to get this shot, director Ridley Scott had a large dog brought on set.
An American Tail is a terrific animated movie about a young mouse traveling to America as he hears that there are no cats there, so he and all his other mouse can be free and live safely. However, they all learn that the tales of America being cat-free were simply lies designed to trick them.
Various cats are seen throughout the film, but the best is definitely Tiger. A vegetarian cat, Tiger, is friendly to the mice and actually behaves more like a dog than a cat. He helps to save the day, despite initially seeming to be a bad guy.
The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a Japanese movie that follows a real cat and dog named Milo and Otis who go on various adventures. Milo, the cat, accidentally drifts off down the river while playing one day, and Otis has to follow to save him.
Naturally, making a film with animals in the leading roles can be a big challenge. The director, Masanori Hata, filmed over 74 hours of footage in total throughout four years and then edited it all down, finding the usable bits of footage to make a movie.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a Studio Ghibli movie directed and written by legendary Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. The film follows a young witch named Kiki and her black cat, Jiji, as they make a living for themselves running a ‘Witch Delivery Business.’
Interestingly, the character of Jiji is very different in the English-language version of the film. New lines were actually added for the character, and a male voice was provided by Canadian comedian Phil Hartman, as opposed to the original female voice. Sadly, this was to be Hartman’s last ever role.
An unforgettable live action animal-based adventure movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey tells the story of three furry friends who go on an amazing adventure. The three animals are a Golden Retriever named Shadow, a Bulldog called Chance, and a cat called Sassy.
Throughout the film, Sassy and her friends find themselves in some perilous situations, and the film has received a lot of critical claim and admiration over the years for its amazing use of animal actors. The voice of Sassy was supplied by Oscar-winning actress Sally Field.
Arguably the greatest Disney movie ever made, The Lion King frequently tops critics lists as one of the finest animated classics of all time and has been beloved by people of all ages ever since its release in 1994. The film charts the birth and life of young lion Simba as he attempts to find his place in the world.
There are some excellent big cat characters in this film, from the noble Mufasa to the villainous Scar and the friendly Nala. The film was also notable for its soundtrack, which has been ranked as one of the greatest in Disney history.
There have been a lot of great animated movies based on cats over the years, with Cats Don’t Dance being another example. This film was actually about a young cat going to Hollywood to try and make a name for himself in the movie, and meeting various other cats and animals along the way.
This film was originally planned to be a vehicle for Michael Jackson, who was set to produce and star in the film, helping out with the music and dance sequences too. The film was going to blend live-action and animated sequences, but all of that eventually changed and Jackson left the project, resulting in a 100% cartoon movie.
An exceptional sci-fi movie that really made people think about the nature of reality, as well as featuring some awesome action sequences, The Matrix was one of the best movies to be released in 1999, and a cat played a very interesting role.
In one scene, the film’s hero, Neo, sees a black cat walking past a door. Just a moment later, he sees the exact same thing happen, and remarks that he just experienced a case of ‘deja vu,’ which is actually a warning to Neo and his team that something strange is happening inside the Matrix.
Stuart Little is a lovely family film all about a little mouse named Stuart who is adopted by a human family called the Littles. The movie follows Stuart’s attempts to integrate with his new family and try to lead a regular boy’s life in spite of being a mouse.
One of the best characters in the film is the family cat, Snowbell. Snowbell starts off as a bit of a villain and plans to remove Stuart from the Little House, but ends up becoming a good guy and saving Stuart at the end. Snowbell was voiced by Nathan Lane, who also did the voice of Timon in The Lion King.
Giving us a bold new look at the age-old rivalry between felines and canines, 2001’s Cats & Dogs was a fun family film that showed cats and dogs as secretly super intelligent beings making use of spy equipment and tactical espionage in their ongoing war against one another.
The film shows the dogs and cats laying traps and planning attacks on each other. The dogs ultimately win the day, but some of the cats like the villainous Mr. Tinkles and his amusing ninja henchmen really stand out as some of the very best characters.
Anger Management is a funny film for a lot of different reasons, with one of those reasons being Meatball, the overweight cat who appears throughout the film in a variety of outfits including a red hoodie and a pink wool costume.
Meatball is a cat model used by the protagonist of the film, Dave, for designing clothes for overweight felines. Behind-the-scenes, the cat playing Meatball wasn’t actually fat or overweight at all. He wore a special fat suit, which was hidden beneath his clothes throughout the film. Fans had to be provided to keep the cat cool at all times.
Many people preferred Shrek 2 to the first Shrek film, and one of the reasons that the sequel was so popular was the addition of an amazing new character: Puss in Boots. Voiced brilliantly by Antonio Banderas, Puss is easily one of the top characters in the franchise.
He’s a skilled fighter and manipulator using his super cute eyes to manipulate people into doing what he wants. Initially, he’s hired to kill Shrek and starts off seeming to be a villainous character but later becomes an ally to the big green ogre.
Catwoman is all about one of the most famous comic book characters of all. It shows the life, death, and rebirth of Patience Phillips, who initially begins the story as a timid woman but ends up being reborn as the powerful Catwoman. Various cats appear in the film, but the biggest role is reserved for Midnight.
Midnight is an Egyptian Mau cat that helps to bring Patience back to life and is always around when she needs help. The producers originally planned on using CGI for a lot of the Midnight scenes but found that real cats were skilled enough to pull off most of what they had planned.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of the most wonderful fantasy stories ever written and was made into a great film in 2005. The eponymous ‘Lion’ of the story is Aslan, who is a major character and was voiced by Liam Neeson for the film.
Aslan is portrayed as a very powerful and wise character in the world of Narnia who hopes to reclaim control of the world from the evil White Witch. Interestingly, many literary experts have compared the character of Aslan with Jesus Christ, and this has been the subject of a lot of debate.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix takes us into the fifth year of wizarding school for Harry Potter and his friends. Each of the main Harry Potter trios have their own pets: Ron Weasley has a rat named Scabbers, Harry has an owl called Hedwig, and Hermione Granger has a cat called Crookshanks, and we see a few moments of Crookshanks in this film.
Amusingly, one memorable scene shows fluffy Crookshanks playing with an ear dangling from a string, which is a magical device used to eavesdrop on people. A few moments later, we see the cat licking its lips like it just ate the ear.
The Hangover is a classy comedy film showing a bunch of buddies waking up in Vegas after a very crazy night without any memories of what happened. They soon find themselves in a lot of trouble when they discover an actual tiger walking around in their hotel bathroom.
Later, it turns out that the tiger is the pet of famed boxer Mike Tyson, and the friends have to somehow get it back to his mansion. Trained animals were used throughout the film, but the scene in which the tiger has been drugged and is hidden under a sheet just made use of a prop tiger rather than a real one.
We were first introduced to the character of Puss in Boots in Shrek 2, but he was so popular that he actually got his own film in 2011. The film is actually a prequel to Shrek 2, showing who Puss was before he met Shrek and seeing him on some of his adventures with pals like Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws.
Kitty is definitely one of the stars of this show. Voiced by Salma Hayek, she’s essentially the female counterpart to Puss and has the same sense of style and awesome agility as him.
The world first got a glimpse of the unbelievable Grumpy Cat as a simple internet meme. She was a cat that just looked moody and miserable all the time, and she quickly became popular, eventually to the point where she got her own film: Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.
In reality, Grumpy Cat’s name is Tardar Sauce and simply played her usual grumpy self in the film. She was given a voice by Aubrey Plaza. Behind the scenes, Grumpy Cat is actually said to be quite friendly and just like any other cat.
A smash Pixar hit that ranks up there with the likes of Toy Story and A Bug’s Life as one of the studio’s most popular films, Inside Out follows the story of a young girl and the various emotions that live in her mind and influence her moods, thoughts, and feelings throughout her life.
At the end of the film, we get a glimpse into the minds of other beings, including a cat! Amusingly, when we see inside the cat’s mind, we can just a group of four colored cats wandering around the room until one of them eventually starts walking across the control panel and hitting random buttons.
Kedi is actually a documentary film that looks at real-life street cats in Istanbul. It’s a moving film to watch, showing us the lives of many different cats and putting the spotlight on a few in particular. Sari is one of the most interesting cats in the film as we see him stopping by various cafes in search of scraps of food.
Bengu is another lovely cat in Kedi who just loves to be petted and brushed, while ‘Psikopat’ is quite an angry, tough kitty who rules the streets. Kedi, which means cat in Turkish, shows us how every cat has its own personality.
Comedy duo Key and Peele star in this amusing story about a stolen cat called Keanu. Keanu’s owner, Rell (Jordan Peele) and his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) set off to track Keanu down, getting into some dangerous situations along the way.
Keanu, who is only really a kitten, really steals the show in this film. He’s one of the cutest cats we’ve ever seen on screen and is particularly adorable when dressed up as a gangster. Nine different kittens were used in production to play the part of Keanu, and they all got adopted by cast and crew at the end.
This film stars Kevin Spacey as a mean-spirited man named Tom who magically ends up in the body of a cat he was buying as a gift for his daughter. Initially, Tom acts out in mischievous ways, angry at being confined to his feline body.
Slowly, however, throughout the film as he gets to spend time with key people from his family, he begins to learn some valuable lessons and reaches some inspiring conclusions. Several trained cats were used to play the part of Tom, who was renamed Mr. Fuzzypants while living as a cat.
Marvel has gone through a whopping eleven years’ worth of movies, and Captain Marvel has really put the icing on the cake! Goose the cat is by far the most notable plot twister in the movie as the seeming less little Garfield impersonator will end up leaving you jaw-dropping, and you’ll be sure to be on your toes next time another Marvel movie comes around.
Directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck seemed to have hunched that Goose would such a trending hit because they provided the audience with a bit more Goose after the credits. So, stay until the end!