Surely you’ve heard the phrase “like trying to herd cats” when it comes to a near impossible task. Well, Shirley – and anyone who may read this – what if there was another one comparable that made herding cats look no harder than breathing? What if the expression was rather “like trying to film cats”? Just think of movies or TV shows that have cats in lead roles, like Keanu, Pet semataryor even Shrek 2. Cats don’t listen. Or rather, they listen very well and don’t care. They change the hierarchy of the production team: the director is not in charge, the cat is. So kudos to those who not only filmed these cats, but made them cooperate. Your sorcery levels know no bounds.
Garfield in Garfield: The Movie (2004)
From the print to the smothering sucker in car windows, the lasagna-loving feline finally made his film debut in Garfield: the movie. Fairly standard home cooking, with Garfield (Bill Murray) to rescue Odie after inadvertently creating a chain of events leading to Odie’s kidnapping. Dognapped. Unless Odie is a kid, then kidnapped is correct. What if a kid took Odie? Would it be dognapped kid? The possibilities are endless… actually no, that’s about it. Murray is excellent, as always, and once you hear him as Garfield, it’s hard to think of anyone else in the role. He certainly had fun with it too, poking fun at his involvement in the franchise at a time zombieland movies.
Mr. Bigglesworth in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
It’s 1967, and the infamous Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) and his beloved – and furry – cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, escape the clutches of super spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) in a rocket ship, where he cryogenically freezes. Fast forward to 1997, and Dr. Evil thaws out to reclaim his evil empire, and at his side is Mr. Bigglesworth. Without hair. It’s a tumultuous dig at old Bond films, where nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld (first appearance of an uncredited Anthony Dawson in From Russia with love) is often shown petting her fluffy white kitten Solomon. The bald Mr. Bigglesworth fits right into the budding Blofeld aesthetic of Myers, a super-villain who consistently falls short of the great Bond villains throughout time.
Church of Pet Sematary (1989)
What does a father do when his daughter’s kitten, Church, loses a head-to-head against an oncoming truck? Bury the church in the Pet Sematary, of course, and the cat will be like new in the morning. Just not really all that is playful. Or pleasant smell. And alarmingly violent, killing all sorts of creatures and leaving their bodies around the house. On the plus side, however, he really ties into Gage (Miko Hughes). Watch them work together to kill Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). So sweet. Take your pick – Church 1989 or Church 2019. They are both scary as all hell.
Keanu in Keanu (2016)
Things are starting to look up for a discouraged Rell (Jordan Pele) after finding a cute kitten on his doorstep, which he names Keanu. Unfortunately, Keanu is taking a nap (oh please don’t start everything taking a nap convo again), leading Rell and his cousin Clarence (Key Keegan-Michael) on a mission to find the kitty. What would have been helpful to know is that Keanu belonged to a deceased mobster ringleader and is now in the possession of another mobster, Cheddar (method man). Kittens. The gateway to a life of drugs, gang violence and mistaken identities.
Jones in Alien (1979)
After a fatal encounter with a xenomorph aboard the USCSS Nostromo, only two individuals survived: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jones, the ship’s cat and Ripley’s pet. In fairness, the alien had little to no interest in Jones, suggesting xenomorphs are dogs. Or, and this is entirely plausible, xenomorphs only attack beings with souls, so Jones being a Ginger cat… connect the dots, dear readers!
Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)
Salem Saberhagen (Nick Bakay) is a familiar familiar to those who have watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Salem is a 500-year-old witch who was intent on taking over the world. This did not sit well with the Council of Witches, who sentenced him to live like a cat for 100 years as punishment. At least he’s good at helping Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart). When he’s not causing her grief.
Goose in Captain Marvel (2019)
Fast – Samuel L. Jackson against cat. Who wins? It’s true. It’s the cat. Or, more properly, a Flerken, creatures that look like Earth cats but can eat anything, aided by tentacles they can produce from their mouths to help swallow large objects, or Kree soldiers . Goose is the reason Jackson’s Nick Fury wears an eye patch, accidentally scratching his eye. He should be grateful that Goose didn’t brush off his SHIELD agents.
Mr. Jinx in Meet the Parents (2000)
Mr. Jinx is by Jack Byrne (robert deniro) Beloved Himalayan cat, who the former CIA agent trained to come when called, greet and use the toilet, earning the envy of every other living cat owner. Did Mr. Jinx deliberately fabricate poor Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) first meeting with his future in-laws hell? Short answer? Yes.
Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 (2004)
King Harold (John Cleese) is charged by the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) with the release of Shrek (Mike Myers), so he hires an assassin. Pray for Puss in Boots’ mercy! From its first appearance, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) was a hit, her suave charm only betrayed by furballs and catnip. Damn nice boots, to boot.
Lucky in ALF (1986-1990)
The planet Melmac had its quirks: two moons, yoghurt mines, bouillabaseball (baseball, but with pieces of fish instead of a ball), and, curiously, the planet was made of melmac. Also, instead of cows, they had cats. Yes – calico and tabby based burgers. So when Gordon Shumway, aka ALF (Paul Fusco), crashed into the Tanners’ garage on Earth, the family cat, Lucky, had good reason to be scared. Luckily, as ALF was welcomed into the family, he grew to see Lucky as more than just lunch. He became the last of the Melmacians, in fact: a cat lover.
Toonces in Saturday Night Live (1989-1993)
Between 1989 and 1993, one of the most popular recurring sketches involved Toonces, the cat who could drive a car. Toonces is Lyle’s family pet (Steve Martin) and Brenda (victoria jackson) Clark who, to their immense delight, could drive the family car. Not very well. Each skit ended with a “Toonces, watch out!” and archival footage of the car rolling over a cliff and hitting bottom or exploding.
I II III IV V in The Simpsons (since 1989)
For the record, the Simpsons’ pet greyhound, Santa’s little helper, has been around since the very first episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” Snowball, the pet cat?
- Snowball I: Snowball I was already dead by the time the first episode was released, hit by a Chrysler driven by Mayor Quimby’s drunken brother, Clovis.
- Snowball II: Lisa (Anne Sophie Smith) gets Snowball II in the first episode, and it lasts until Season 15, when Dr. Hibbert (Harry Shearer) crushes him with his Hummer.
- Snowball III: The first of three (!) cats from the season 15 episode “I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot”, Snowball III arrives at the Simpsons’ house, Lisa leaves the room to bring him some food, and… kitty drowns, mistaking the aquarium for an all-you-can-eat fish buffet.
- Snowball IV: Nicknamed “Coltrane” at the shelter, Lisa brings him home, plays jazz music, and kitty jumps out the window to his death to avoid listening to him. Critics, right?
- Snowball V: The current iteration of Snowball – not yet dead – was given to Lisa by Crazy Cat Lady (Tress MacNeille). Number five looks like number two, so while she’s Snowball V in the line-up, Lisa names her Snowball II. You can only buy a limited number of dishes with Roman numerals.