50. Jiji, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Jiji (voiced in the American version by Phil Hartman) is apprentice witch Kiki’s naysaying black cat. Jiji doesn’t like the town she settles in, until he sees a pretty white cat across the way. He puts with up a lot: When Kiki loses a cat toy (who looks just like Jiji) on her first big delivery, she persuades him to act as the child’s toy until she can retrieve the real one. Since there’s a big dog and a canary involved, that’s a big request. When Kiki begins to doubt her own powers, she finds she can’t hear Jiji anymore: All she hears is “Meow.” (No worries—her confidence and Jiji’s voice are happily restored by the film’s end.
49. Butch, The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
It’s hard to tell since this sci-fi classic is in black-and-white, but that’s Orangey playing the family cat Butch. When Scott Carey (Grant Williams) begins inexplicably shrinking, he becomes a pretty tempting plaything for Butch. Who can forget the scene where Scott opens the doll house door to the now-enormous, hissing predator? Unlike the loyal family dog in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, who alerts the dad to the now-microscopic kids’ presence, this cat just sees a mouse-sized thing it wants to catch—and eat. Ulp!
48. Clarence, Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965)
A trailer for this “wild, wacky, and exciting” MGM film assures us that Clarence is “no relation” to Leo the Lion. Since Clarence is cross-eyed, he can’t hunt (or kill anything), so he’s taken care of a doctor who runs a wildlife rehabilitation clinic on the African savanna. Shenanigans, naturally, ensue. He returns the favor by saving the doc and his family from poachers. Followed by the TV series Daktari.
47. Milo, The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
A striped orange kitty named Milo and an adorable pug puppy named Otis go adventuring in this Japanese film. In Japan, it was billed as A Kitten’s Story, in which their names were the less-marquee-friendly Chatran and Poosky. Despite run-ins with bears and other critters, it all ends happily with both Milo and Otis happily mated off (to one of their own species not each other!) with a new batch of kittens and puppies.
46. Winkie, Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
This winking black cat is a very helpful companion to an alien brother and sister. First, Winkie jumps in when a bully snatches the all-important star case from Tia (Kim Richards). Later, she helps them by jumping on various henchman or making them sneeze. Behold, the power of cat dander! She’s also very useful in finding missing keys. She doesn’t accompany them back to their home planet, but she does get to stay with their kind, grandfatherly friend, Jason (Eddie Albert). Sadly, the sequel was not about Winkie and Jason RVing cross country.
45. The Cats of Kedi (2016)
This beautifully shot documentary follows several street cats of Istanbul, including one colorfully named Psikopat, a black-and-white shorthair female who attacks any rival who comes near her mate. These strays prefer to roam free and simply stop in for a free meal now and then with the humans who dote on them. The man who takes care of a cat called Bengu says, “It’s said that cats are aware of God’s existence, but dogs are not. Dogs think people are gods … cats know that people are middlemen to God’s will. They’re not ungrateful. They just know better.”
44. General, Cat’s Eye (1982)
A stray tabby links these three Stephen King stories. In the first, James Woods goes to the wrong clinic to try to quit smoking. To show him they mean business, they start shocking the cat … and that’s just their first threat! In the second tale, the rich man regards the cat (who survives crossing busy traffic) as his good luck charm as he challenges his wife’s lover to a deadly wager. But the tabby bestows its luck on the lover, not the murderous tycoon. In the last, and most cat-centric story, he makes it his mission to save young Amanda (Drew Barrymore) from a troll that tries to steal her breath every night. Amanda insists the cat stay and calls him “General.” Mom keeps trying to get rid of the cat—until he finally defeats the troll and the parents realize that General is a furry little hero.
43. Cat who loves Harry Lime, The Third Man (1949)
American writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to Vienna only to learn that the friend who invited him, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), was just killed in a mysterious accident. Holly tries to court Harry’s girlfriend Anna (Alida Valli), she is understandably cool towards him. When Holly tries to tempt her indifferent kitty with a shoelace, Anna tells him, “He only liked Harry.” So later, when we see the same cat contentedly washing himself in a doorway and playing with a man’s shoelaces, we can guess whose shoes those are. Trivia: Several cats were used in the film, and director Carol Reed had to smear the shoes with salmon oil to get the cat to pay proper attention to them.
42. Ulysses, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
This orange kitty is so key to the film, he’s on the poster! Down-on-his-luck folk singer Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is crashing at his friends, the Gorfeins. When he and Ulysses get accidentally locked out, he has no choice but to carry the cat around New York City. Then the cat escapes, but Llewyn spots it on the street and returns it. Except it’s the wrong cat! Eventually, through no help of Llewyn’s, Ulysses makes his way home. Llewyn’s luck, however, continues to be terrible.
41. Tonto, Harry and Tonto (1974)
Art Carney is widower Harry, who dotes on his cat Tonto. He feeds the cat so well, the local grocer remarks, “Hey, that cat eats better than me.” When Harry is evicted from his Upper West Side apartment, he and Tonto decide to go on the road, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. According to CinemaCats, Harry walking Tonto on a leash was inspired by director Paul Mazursky’s mother, who had a Manx cat that she used to walk in the Village. When Art Carney won a Best Actor Oscar for the film, Mazursky said he thought the cat should have won, as well.
40. Duchess, Babe (1995)
Persian cats in movies are often typecast as spoiled and mean and Duchess is no exception. She lords it over the little pig that he’s not allowed in the house—and breaks it to him that humans like to eat pigs. She even scratches Babe’s nose when Farmer Hoggett allows Babe inside … which results in Duchess being put outside instead! Good thing she never teamed up with sheep dog Rex, who was also wildly jealous of Babe.
39. Lucifer, Cinderella (1950)
This mean, mouse-eating machine (who makes Si and Am look like nice little pussycats) helps make Cinderella’s life miserable, not to mention her friends, Jaq and Gus. According to the Disney Wiki, this fat cat’s look was based on a pet owned by animator Ward Kimball.
38. Thomasina, The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963)
In this lesser-known but well-loved Disney movie, a cat lives three lives, beginning as “Thomas” in 1912 Scotland. Once her family realizes she’s a girl, she becomes “Thomasina.” After her first death, she journeys to the afterlife, where she meets all the cats who have already used up their nine lives. They are all turned into Siamese cats and spend eternity with the Egyptian goddess Bastet. But since Thomasina has lived only once, she returns to live twice more, finally reuniting with the little girl who loves her. It was based on the novel Thomasina, the Cat Who Thought She Was God.
37. Jake, The Cat From Outer Space (1978)
Decades before E.T. or Stitch (aka Experiment 626), the cat-like Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 was stranded on earth and needed to repair his ship. His quest was made a lot simpler because he could speak to humans and could convince scientist Frank (Ken Barry) to help him out. The alien (nicknamed “Jake”) could make ordinary things fly, including levitating a motorcycle over a tall fence. It hasn’t quite got the magic of the E.T. bicycle scene, but it’s very handy when you’re trying to escape from a military installation.
36. DC, That Darn Cat (1965)
A carefree cat ends up working with the FBI on a kidnapping case after his astute owner (Hayley Mills) notices he’s wearing a watch for a collar and it’s got what looks like “Help” scratched into the back. Now if Agent Zeke Kelso (Dean Jones) can just get the cat to go back to the kidnappers’ hideout. And if he can stop sneezing long enough to finish the case! Remade in 1997, with a cameo from Dean Jones.
35. Prince John, Robin Hood (1973)
One of Disney’s more comical villains, the corrupt and cowardly Prince John has usurped the throne while his heroic brother, Richard the Lionhearted, is off fighting the Crusades. When he’s not busy sleeping with his bags of ill-gotten gold, he’s sucking his thumb and calling for his Mommy. Peter Ustinov voiced both lion brothers.
34. Irina, Cat People (1982)
Paul Schrader’s sensual remake of the 1944 film makes explicit the premise that Irina (Nastassja Kinski) turns into a man-eating panther when she becomes sexually aroused. (The transforming cat-creature effects are less than great, alas.) The remake also adds a long-lost brother, Malcolm McDowell, who is the only one she can mate with without having to kill. Since Irina isn’t into incest, her options are to live her life alone, keep killing, or spend a lonely life in a cage as a panther.
33. Panther, Cat People (1944)
Irina, a woman from Eastern Europe (Simone Simon), believes she is one of her country’s feared cat people and will turn into a panther if she ever makes love. Producer Val Lewton was renowned for low-budget horror films that suggested far more than audiences actually ever saw, including the fantastic scene where Irina’s romantic rival, Alice (Jane Randolph), is stalked by something she never sees, but which we absolutely believe is Irina as a cat. Alice’s robe ends up torn to shreds—as does the audience’s nerves. Irina is obsessed with a black panther at the zoo, and her fate is intertwined with his.
32. Kitten, Keanu (2016)
The incredibly adorable kitten named Keanu isn’t in this comedy much, but he does inspire the suburban dudes played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to impersonate hardcore drug dealers to retrieve him. And, when they do find him, he does look very stylish in the bandana and gold chains his new owner has decked him out in.
31. Sassy, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Sassy the cat (voiced by Sally Field) is routinely told “Dogs rule, cats drool” by her canine pal Chance (Michael J. Fox). But could a dog have come to Shadow (Don Ameche)’s rescue when he’s captured by animal control on their long trek home? We think not! Happily, they all make it home in one piece, although Sassy has a scare when she’s swept upstream and presumed dead by her companions.
30. Tao, The Incredible Journey (1963)
Two dogs and a cat journey hundreds of miles to be reunited with their humans in the heartwarming original Disney version. Syn (who would go on to star in That Darn Cat) is Tao, the Siamese cat who braves encounters with a lynx and a bear—as well as a fateful dunking—to make her way home. The animals don’t talk in this version: Their adventures are narrated by the genial Rex Allen, who also narrated Charlie the Lonesome Cougar.
29. Church, Pet Sematary (1989)
Church, the gray kitty beloved of Louis (Dale Midkiff)’s children, is hit and killed, like so many other pets, on the incredibly busy street outside their new house. Luckily, his wife and kids are out of town so, it seems like a good idea when neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne) suggests they bury Church in the nearby pet cemetery, which is known for reviving dead animals. Sure enough, the cat comes back, although he’s clearly not the same animal. When Louis’s son is killed on the same road, he makes an incredibly foolish decision. Realizing he never should have brought the cat or his now homicidal son back, Louis shoots both up with a syringe full of morphine, but that’s hardly the end of the carnage.
28. Figaro, Pinocchio (1940)
This adorable tuxedo kitten (Cleo is the goldfish, in case you get their names confused) was one of Walt Disney’s favorites. After Pinocchio, Walt made him Minnie Mouse’s pet, replacing Fifi the Pekingese. (So much for Pluto’s love interest!) Figaro starred in his own series of cartoon shorts and also appeared in some with Pluto.
27. Charlie, Charlie the Lonesome Cougar (1967)
One of our favorite Disney orphans is Charlie the cougar, who is taken in and raised by a logger. The poster promises “the exciting adventures of a teen-age mountain lion!” and Charlie gets up to more than his share of mischief, including encounters with a bear and a dog named Chainsaw, who isn’t happy that his owner likes to feed this overgrown kitty on the sly.
26. Meowthra, The Lego NINJAGO Movie (2017)
A cute kitty named Meowthra wreaks kaiju-like havoc in NINJAGO city while trying to to catch a red laser. It’s all a villain’s horrible plot. Now how can the giant kitty be stopped? Meowthra was actually played by two kitties and some CGI was required, but other than that, the kitty action is all real.