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Ten Deep 7.03.14: Top 10 Movie Cats
Posted by Mike Gorman on 07.03.2014

"Top Ten Movie Cats"

They say that you're either a dog person or a cat person when it comes to the domesticated animals in our lives. This week's Ten Deep is definitely for the cat people! Was this a topic burning a hole in my saved topics notebook or is it a ploy to pander to the millions of people who will jump at the chance to watch any kind of cat video on the internet? I will never tell. I will say that there have been some spectacular cinematic felines over the years and this week's list barely scratches the surface. Get it? Scratches! Ok, I'll kill the puns and move on to the first cat on the list, one that was apparently inspired by real life.

10. Mike Tyson's tiger in The Hangover

There is a lot to laugh at and also puzzle out in the relatively non-linear timeline of the hit film The Hangover. One of the more interesting plots is how the "Wolf Pack" wakes up with a tiger in the bathroom of their Vegas hotel room. When they discover that the tiger belongs to Mike Tyson, the goal becomes getting the tiger back to its owner safe and sound. What I found even more interesting is that this wacky twist has some basis in reality. Apparently Tyson does or did own a tiger, which when you really think about it, makes complete sense. In the film, the tiger becomes more than just a gag prop and develops a character of its own.

9. Crookshanks in the Harry Potter films

Crookshanks the cat was purchased by Hermione Granger at the Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley and makes his first appearance in Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban assisting Sirius Black's efforts to track down Peter Pettigrew who was disguised as Ron Weasely's rat Scabbers at the time. Crookshanks is actually only half cat, as he is also half Kneazle. A Kneazle is a highly intelligent magical creature that is cat like in appearance and has the ability to sniff out deception. It is said that this part of Crookshanks' biology made him very useful to Hermione, Harry and Ron in some of their exploits.

8. Mr. Bigglesworth in the Austin Powers series

Whether he's got the fur or is rolling hairless, Mr. Bigglesworth in the Austin Powers films is not only an excellent foil for Mike Myer's madcap antics as Dr. Evil but also serves as one of the set pieces that evokes the feel of the James Bond films the series spoofs. Dr. Evil is a direct homage to the Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld was appeared in six films and was often featured seated stroking a white cap on his lap. Blofeld's cat was more of a prop than Mr. Bigglesworth as you can see in the clip below; because when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, people die.

7. Irena in Cat People

In 1982's Cat People, Natassja Kinski was not a werewolf, but instead was a werecat; a werecat with a very unique heritage. The film itself is described an erotic horror film but I think that is glossing over how truly twisted it gets. You see a werecat is traditionally an incestuous animal as Irena learns from her brother when he tells her that their parents were brother and sister. This is due to the fact that when a werecat mates with another werecat, nothing happens but when a werecat copulates with a human, they turn into a leopard until they kill a human… no I am not making this up and the film on many levels is kind of fascinating including the implied ending I will not spoil here.

6. Jonesy in Alien

Often when an animal appears in a film it is a device to give the actors something to do during the storyline's down time; excuses to go to certain places and to take certain actions. This certainly appears to be the case with Jonesy the cat in the movie Alien. What I think Jonesy also provided was a natural contrast to the extremely alien environment and creatures. We don't often assume that we might find a cat or dog wandering a space ship and when it does happen we know that there are reasons. Jonesy also provides us with something for Ripley to care for and save, so we can root for his safety in the end.

5. Si & Am in Lady & The Tramp

With Si & Am in Lady & The Tramp we get a different sort of cat than we are used to seeing on film, namely they are kind of villains (and kind of racially stereotyped villains for that matter!) In this animated classic we get to see some dog & cat games when Si & Am are introduced into Lady's home. My real reason for including, truth be told, is that they sing one of the most memorable and catchy songs of every Disney film. You can relive their musical moment in the video below!

4. The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz

In this instance the cat is a lion, but a scaredy cat none the less! The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz was meant to be the King of the Forrest, but was too afraid to make it happen. As we all know, he goes on a journey with Dorothy and the rest of her friends to find his courage throughout the film. In the end, it seems that he had that courage inside of him all along. The message may seem cliché nowadays but it certainly was the cat's meow 75 years ago!

3. Church in Pet Sematary

Most of the cats we have seen on this list so far have redeeming qualities and do not fit the stereotypes put out there by cat haters that describe cats as mean, vindictive beasts… and then we come to Church. Church from Pet Sematary is a relatively normal, if not aloof, family pet until he is struck down in the road and buried in the cursed pet cemetery. From that moment on, Church is an angry, mean beast that often seems out for blood or at least to cause chaos. Church is the warning sign the father in the story should have heeded before he took someone else up to that cemetery.

2. The Cat in Cat's Eye

It's funny, when I started looking into this topic one of the first cat's that popped into my mind was the unnamed cat that wanders through the stories of the film Cat's Eye, but when I looked at the suggestions of others most overlooked this feline. Is it because no one saw the film? The film is based on a series of short stories by Stephen King and definitely feels more like an anthology series than an actual movie; and not all of the stories are of the same caliber which is often the case with King's work. The connecting point of the film is the journey of the cat, which makes its way through the initial stories and then finds itself the hero of the last piece. Old wives tales state that cats will try to steal the breath and life of babies, but here we learn that it is a tiny troll that steals the breath and it is up to the cat to save the child. A cat is certainly an odd choice to fill the role of hero in a horror film, but it is a choice that makes sense for this tale.

And finally…

1. Thackery Binx in Hocus Pocus

Once again we visit with a cat that was not always a cat, like Irena in Cat People. This time however the cat is question is a boy who tries to stand up to three witch sisters in Disney's Hocus Pocus and finds himself on the receiving end of a spell that turns him into a black cat and grants him indestructible immortality. Thackery Binx must serve as an advisor and aid to the modern day children who release the sisters on their unsuspecting home town. Binx is certainly the most heroic of the cats on this list, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good without giving a thought to the consequences. It is also nice to see a black cat cast in the role of hero instead of bad luck charm once in a while.

Did I earn a treat or will you be locking me out of the house for the night? Quit yer barking and let me know in the comments section below which fantastic felines I might have missed!

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