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10 Cartoon Cats We Love and Adore

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There’s something special about seeing a cartoon character representing an animal we love, especially when that character becomes so ingrained in pop culture fabric. In modern media history, the cartoon cat has been making its furry presence known on the silver screen and comic book strips for over 100 years! And to celebrate, we’re rounding up our list of the 10 best cartoon cats. 

10 Best Cartoon Cats

Garfield, Garfield and Friends


Does any character epitomize the cliché large, lazy, mischievous feline more than Garfield? Despite not first appearing until 1978 (a little later than some of the others on this list), this lasagna-loving wisecracker is one of the most famous cartoon cats, holding the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip with over 2,580 appearances. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much internet surfing to come across a solid Garfield meme.

In addition to Garfield’s extreme popularity in merchandising around the world, the comic strip has also spanned multiple television series, animated specials, and two CGI adaptations starring Bill Murray.

Tom Cat, Tom and Jerry


Like many of the cartoon cats on our list, Tom Cat of Tom and Jerry fame rose to prominence in the Golden Age of Animation, first appearing in 1940 in the animated short Puss Gets the Boot (a little foreshadowing to one of our other favorite famous cartoon cats!). Interestingly enough, the lead cat actually went by the name Jasper in that original short, before taking on the name Tom (or Thomas) in subsequent appearances.

Most of Tom’s antics include trying to catch his mouse counterpart, Jerry, who often outsmarts Tom despite the gangly cat’s best efforts and elaborate plans. And it’s Tom’s neverending optimism (despite every grand scheme typically backfiring in classic slapstick comedy) that helped land him on our list.

Sylvester the Cat, Looney Tunes


Like Tom Cat, the legendary Sylvester the Cat of Looney Tunes typically finds himself in plotlines in which he’s chasing a smaller character, like Tweety Bird or Speedy Gonzales. And though his plans typically go awry, Sylvester’s trademark lisp and charismatic fumbling help make him as memorable as any Looney Tunes character.

In fact, Sylvester has appeared in over 103 different cartoons throughout, trailing only Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck in total appearances. Throw in two Space Jam victories with Michael Jordan and LeBron James, and “sufferin’ succotash” – that’s an impressive resume!

Meowth, Pokémon


While many of the cartoon cats that make up our list are older, long-celebrated favorites of animation, that’s not to say there aren’t any newer, younger famous felines worth mentioning. Meowth from the original Pokémon series, which itself is already 25 years old, made a (literal) statement – “Meowth, that’s right! – as the most memorable member of the antagonistic Team Rocket.

Meowth was also one of the few Pokémon to skip speaking only his own name in favor of witty one-liners, often proving himself more cunning and capable than his human allies. Though a Pokémon is technically not a real animal (and this one may have lost sight of the bigger picture in his pursuit of collecting shiny objects), Meowth still makes the cut for us!

Puss in Boots, Shrek


Your definition of cartoon may vary, but it’s hard not to include a famous cat from the more “new-school” style of CGI animated movies. Especially when he’s the only character on our list to wear exquisite footwear while speaking multiple languages.

You guessed it, we’re talking about Shrek’s swashbuckling sidekick Puss in Boots, who’s appeared throughout every iteration of the acclaimed franchise since 2004’s Shrek 2 and even earned his own self-titled standalone feature in 2011, as well as a sequel in 2022.

Voiced most famously by Antonio Banderas, Puss’ movements and animations depict real cats (aside from his Zorro-like sword fighting and mostly two-legged walk, of course). He’s as honorable and loyal as they come and a proud addition to our list.

Hobbes, Calvin and Hobbes


Who says cartoons are just for kids? Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated from Nov. 18, 1985 to Dec. 31, 1995, has appeared in more than 50 countries, with millions of the 19 book collections sold around the world.

Created by cartoonist Bill Watterson, “the last great newspaper comic” depicts the adventures of the clever, creative, mischievous young Calvin and his larger-than-life best friend Hobbes (who happens to be a tiger). The outside world may see Hobbes as a simple stuffed animal, but to Calvin, he’s a confidant, providing wisdom and guidance as the pair straddles the line between suburban reality and adventure-filled imagination.

The Cat in the Hat


Okay, okay, enough with all these new-school cartoon cats. Bring back the classics! And who’s more classic than Dr. Suess’s Cat in the Hat? Hailing from Suess’s 1957 book of the same name, this mischievous cat may be the most infamous on our list.

Upon a second examination, is the Cat in the Hat really just the original inspiration for every teenager’s parents-are-out-of-the-house party scenario? Think about it. The Cat rolls up on an otherwise normal and rainy day. He wreaks havoc without much of a shrug (sounds like a cat to us), invites his friends over and trashes the house before pretending to leave. Granted, the Cat in the Hat does come back, cleaning everything up with an elaborate machine, so we feel good about giving him a place on our list.

Simba, The Lion King


Did you really think we could ignore a foundational Disney animated movie like The Lion King when comprising this list? The only issue we had in this case was which cartoon cat to choose, but if we’re being honest, Simba’s the standout among the pride.

We watch him grow from being a young, brash cub to experiencing exile and trauma in one of Disney’s saddest scenes to date. But audiences also get to see Simba’s full redemption arc, as he eventually outgrows his man-child “Hakuna Matata” phase to return to his family and friends, all while ousting his evil uncle Scar.

Felix the Cat


It’s impossible to compile a list of famous cartoon cats without mentioning the character that arguably started it all over 100 years ago. Felix the Cat premiered in 1919 during the silent film era, a full nine years before Mickey Mouse’s Steamboat Willie debut in 1928.

Felix helped open the doors for future cartoon cats, as well as the endless possibilities animation could achieve in entertainment and imagination. From his famous trademark pace to his expressive tail that would take on a multitude of shapes, Felix helped usher in an era of cartoons that were not only wildly entertaining to children, but artistically interesting to adults and critics, too.

Hello Kitty


Hello Kitty is probably a little less cartoon cat and a little more global icon at this point, but her timeless appeal to everyone from young kids to grown adults spans over 40 years of international influence. This easily earns our recognition, especially when considering Hello Kitty’s uncanny crossover ability: the character has appeared on everything from school supplies, manga and comics, to apparel, accessories, and even motor oil.

A staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese pop culture, Hello Kitty (aka Kitty White) is a perpetual third grader from London, first appearing on a vinyl coin purse sold in Japan in 1975. One of the more interesting features of Kitty White is that she’s always been illustrated without a mouth. This way, fans can project their own emotions onto the character, creating an even more personal connection.

Fascinating Cartoon Cat Facts

Though that rounds out 10 of our favorite cartoon cats, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else to learn about these titans of curiosity and mischief. For one, did you notice that Simba is the only cartoon cat on our list to actually move like a real cat? That is, quadrupedally (using all four legs) instead of taking on the anamorphic, bipedal qualities of cartoon humans. Only Tom, who moved and acted like a real cat in his debut as “Jasper,” takes on similar characteristics.

And did we mention how much it pays to be a successful and famous cartoon cat? For instance, Garfield has spawned merchandise earning $750 million to $1 billion annually over the last 30 years. And by 2014, when the forever young Hello Kitty turned 40, she was worth around $8 billion annually. Meanwhile, Sylvester helped Looney Tunes earn three Academy Awards – the most for any Looney Tunes character. That pedigree undoubtedly led to Sylvester’s four year run from 1979-1983 as the “spokescat” for 9 Lives dry cat food.

And finally, the inspiration behind these characters can tell us a lot about what makes them so important to so many people. Like most characters appearing in the Shrek movies, Puss in Boots is based on an old, already existing fairytale. In this case, an Italian character, first published way back in 1634, who cunningly works his way to positions of power, societal status, and wealth. 

Meanwhile, Calvin and Hobbes creator Watterson points to his own gray tabby cat, Sprite, as the inspiration behind the look and attitude of his titular character.

It’s amazing to think how beloved so many of these famous cartoon cats are, not only in the present, but across multiple generations. In our eyes, it’s a testament to human creativity over the years, as well as a true reflection of the appreciation and love for our feline friends!