There are cats – and then there are famous cats. We're talking about those instantly recognizable felines whose image and legacy define entire pop culture eras. In the world, the internet and the printed page, here is a call of the world's most iconic felines.
Social media stars and starlets
The social media is about to come out of the world, but it does not come close to Grumpy Cat when it comes to spreading a feline's face around the world. Renowned for her characteristic – the result of dwarfism and an underbite – pictures of the self-defined "world's grumpiest cat" blew up the reddit circuit before going viral and inspiring an avalanche of memes. It's a fame that Grumpy's flipped into an empire that includes a movie, a series of books and an endless stream of merchandise.
Just like Grumpy Cat, Lil BUB's take off when photos of this litter took over Tumblr. But thanks to her small size – she's a "perma-kitten" due to genetic abnormalities – and constantly stuck-out tongue, she's used to become an ambassador for special-needs cats and adopt-don't-shop culture. BUB's owner, Mike Bridavsky, claims to be more than $ 300,000.
Swinging back to the lighter side of the social media circuit, Maru has become a kitty champion by virtue of one of the finely honed skills. Videos of Maru mastering his art are so popular that this is the most popular movie on YouTube, claiming over 350 million views.
On-screen famous cats
Long before we are all fixated on YouTube videos on our phones, the cinema was the place to catch famous cats in cation. In the pantheon of famous cats on screen, one cat takes top billing and that's Orangey. Well, that's his real name, but you probably know this marmalade thespian as simply Cat, the darling feline from the Audrey Hepburn movie Breakfast At Tiffany's.
Orangey's other screen times include The Diary Of Anne Frank and The Incredible Shrinking Man, along with the TV show Impossible mission. But behind the glamor and glitz, the Hollywood rumors suggest that you have been in the dark, often scratching and attacking actors who could not live up to his high dramatic standards.
Continuing with the orange-cats-on-camera angle, Morris The Cat is the tabby that stars in the 9th Lives series of cat food commercials. The original Morris was scooped up from the Humane Society in Illinois back in the '60s and proudly embraced his role as the world's most finicky cat'.
Later on in his career, Morris would score roles next to Burt Reynolds and Elliott Gould, and even take a trip to the White House where it's drawn to a bill.
Back in the 1930s, the Algonquin Hotel in New York City began fostering lineage of literary cats. The Algonquin Round Table – a group of smart-ass writers that included Robert Benchley, Harold Ross and Dorothy Parker – but then a cat called Hamlet showed up and attempted to usurp them all.
Since then, the Algonquin's resident feline has been referred to as Hamlet or Matilda, depending on gender. The duties of the current incumbent, Hamlet VIII, include presiding over the annual cat fashion show.
Broadening the feline Literary Circle The Cat In The Hat and The Cheshire Cat. The form, a creation of Dr. Seuss, donations to a red-and-white striped hat and a couple of kids with his rhyming patter. Popularized by Lewis Carroll in Alice's Adventures In WonderlandThe Cheshire Cat is famed for a super-wide grin, which suggests mischief or some sort of psychedelic night.
The cartoon world is littered with famous cats. Debuting back in 1919, the black-and-white Felix The Cat can be said to be one of the world's first animated feline superstars, thanks to an endearingly wide grin that reads silent movie screens. A couple of decades later, Hanna-Barbera's Tom and Jerry helped popularize the cartoon cat trend by portraying the slapstick of a domestic shorthair who's continually toyed with a tiny brown mouse.
In a similar style, the same animation house brings the misadventures of Mr. Jinks, an orange feline constantly thwarted by a couple of dapper mice, while the studio's Top Cat character kept the shenanigans running through the '60s New York City staff crew continuously harassed by Officer Dibble. Slinking over to the Looney Tunes world, we can not forget Sylvester, a tall tuxedo cat with a lisp who can usually be found on the chase of Tweety Bird.
Embracing the less energetic side of the spectrum is Garfield, a proudly portly creation of the cartoonist Jim Davis. With his slothful and cynical outlook on the world, Garfield has kinda come to symbolize the excess of the '80s.
Jumping forward a decade, Ren and Stimpy performed a similar trick, with the off-kilter brainchild creation of John Kricfalusi channeling the MTV era by presenting a skewed view of life through the lens of an animated Chihuahua and his well-meaning goal goofy feline pal .
Moving on to the '90s and the early days, CatDog switches up to the formula of a cat and a canine together with their opposing personalities. Naturally, Cat is the refined, more astute – and, admittedly, often cunning – side of the partnership.
Finally, we could not say hello to the most recognizable cats of the world without a hint towards hello kitty, a feline whose cultural impact is so great. Now that's iconic.
Follow these famous cats on Instagram
- Grumpy Cat @realgrumpycat
- Lil BUB @iamlilbub
- Maru @maru_the_cat
- Morris the Cat @ morristhe9livescat
- Hamlet @thealgonquincat
- Garfield @garfield
- Hello Kitty @hellokitty
Thumbnail: Photography © Xinhua | Alamy Stock Photos.
Phillip Mlynar spends his days writing about cats, hip-hop and food, often while being pestered by his rescue, a mackerel tabby named Mimosa. His work appears in Vice, Pitchfork, Village Voice, Bandcamp and Catster. He's won various awards at the Cat Writers' Association's Communication Contests, some of which are proudly on display at his local dive bar in New York City.
Editor's note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet's office? Subscribe to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you!