8 Famous Cats in Movies
There has been a love affair with cats in cinema for more than a century, dating back as far as the 1901 silent short film The Sick Kitten. Of course, there are times when cats are cute, and there are times when they are creepy, but a movie is almost always more interesting when they appear. We think so too, so here is what we consider our favorite eight cat characters in cinema.
“Jonesy” from “Alien”
My favorite kitty from movies. Jonesy wasn’t just extra scenery for the film but provided a window for us to look through, the witness. So much of the movie was left to the imagination, and Jonesy provided the lens for us to see what was occurring. As he calmly watches one of his humans being devoured, you can see what is happening in Jonsey’s eyes. He also provides Ripley with someone to care about, so her escape isn’t just about survival but is also about the bond she and Jonsey share. Interesting fact: to get the fear reaction from Jonesy in the scene where he witnesses Samuel Brett’s death, they had a German Sheppard behind a screen and removed the screen to get Jonesy’s genuinely fearful hiss.
“Cat” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
I simply love Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Any Audry Hepburn fan is well-versed in this movie. But “Cat” steals the show as the main character. “Cat’s” real name was Orangey. He was central to the plot showcasing Holly Golightly’s cavalier and laissez-faire persona. You are entirely in love with Holly Golightly until she abandons a cat in an alleyway. Then, like “Fred,” the narrator, you fall out of love when she does this mean thing for selfish reasons, even though that is in keeping with her character all along. But you forgive her when she comes to her senses and goes to find the cat, wet and cold in the rain, and all is well.
“Vito’s Cat” from “The Godfather”
The Godfather is an all-time film classic. Everyone is familiar with Don Vito petting his cat while discussing terrible things with people seeking favors on his daughter’s wedding day. I’m unsure if anyone knows the cat’s name, so he is referred to as Vito’s Cat. The cat was wandering around the studio during filming, and director Coppola had an inspiration and placed the cat in Marlon Brando’s lap. Movie magic was born. The cat’s presence made the things being discussed all the more terrifying because it was all so normal. It wasn’t special that they were planning violence. It was an everyday activity. And Don Vito petting the cat made this clear.
“Salem” from “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”
Salem, the cat, is a witch’s familiar. This series is a remake of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” starring Melissa Joan Hart. In the original series, Salem is played by a puppet. This was fine since it was deliberately a little corny and tongue-in-cheek. The newer version is much darker and more serious. Salem is played by a real cat, black, of course, since he is a witch’s cat. Salem was played by three different cats in the new series. Elvis, Witch, and Warlock. Salem’s presence allows us to hear Sabrina’s thoughts when she discusses events with her familiar.
“Mrs. Norris” from “Harry Potter”
Mrs. Norris comes from the Harry Potter series. She is Argus Filch’s cat at Hogwarts. Argus is a somewhat crusty character who watches the children and keeps things orderly, and Mrs. Norris is precisely like her master. She alerts him to the goings-on and helps enforce the rules. Mrs. Norris is an extension of the Argus Filch character. She adds a sense of flair and cat senses to the watching eye. After all, what is a wizard without a familiar? Mrs. Norris was played by three different cats, all Maine Coons. Pebbles is the cat most often portrayed. She is the cat seen wandering around Hogwarts. The other two Maine Coons were male cats trained for specific parts requiring more training.
“Tonto” from “Harry and Tonto”
Harry and Tonto is a story about a journey in the same mold as Greek hero journey tragedies. The protagonist goes from adventure to adventure, meeting different people and seeing different things, finally arriving at their destination. It all starts when Harry and Tonto are evicted from their New York apartment. The two end up going cross country since there are problems with Tonto flying. Along the way, they have many adventures and encounter interesting people. Finally, the hero ends the journey in Los Angeles, and like all Greek tragedies, it ends on a down note, and Tonto passes away. But in the American tradition of ending on a positive note, Harry sees a new cat who looks like Tonto, and the renewal of life is made manifest. Interesting fact: the cat playing Tonto was named Tonto.
“Mr. Bigglesworth” from “Austin Powers”
The cat accomplice to the evil villain is such a common trope it is now so standard it has made it to comedy. Mr. Bigglesworth is Dr. Evil’s pet cat in the James Bond tradition. He is played by a hairless Sphynx cat named SGC Belfry Ted Nude-Gent. The name is a fun combination of the breeder’s business name and Ted Nugent. Mr. Bigglesworth has a constantly disgruntled look, and when he’s upset and meows, Dr. Evil does something… well, evil. It’s all good fun.
“Blofeld’s Cat” from “James Bond”
This is the film series that started the villain’s cat trope. You don’t see Blofeld’s face, just the cat’s. The cat’s reactions stand in for Blofeld’s lack of human responses, who, as a psychopath, does not display any. Blofeld’s cat is a Persian kitty. Numerous cats were used to portray Blofeld’s cat in the James Bond movies that characterize him. The cat is a staple of the James Bond series and an extension of the Blofeld character.
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