Often people say that you are either a dog person or a cat person. Personally I don’t like labels like that. There are can always be shades of inbetween. I am generally much more of a dog person, but I’m not against cats in any way. They just have different pros and cons. Dogs are happy, loyal and excitable. Cats are sassy, cool and independent. 

But while I personally favour dogs, I have to recognise that I think cats have probably got more of a presence in popular culture, and especially on the World Wide Web. Anyone who spends any time on social media knows that a good percentage of all the photos on the internet are cat pictures. It really is a phenomenon. Sure, there are cute puppy pics too, or dogs skateboarding etc, but I think cats definitely have the market share when it comes to presence on the internet. There is the keyboard cat which is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube and also the ‘woman yelling at Smudge the cat’ meme. There are hundreds, nay thousands of websites and games about cats, from cat owner blogs to kitty bingo online. And if you go on Instagram I’m sure you will find more pictures of cats than of any other animal.

So, to continue my series of Top Ten lists, I thought I’d make a list of my Top Ten Cats in popular culture. For this list I chose not to include ‘big cats’ as I thought I would focus on the more normal household cats. There are a couple of variations included in the list, but I still tried to steer away from big cats here. Such big cats included Mufasa, Simba, Aslan and unfortunately Hobbes too. I love Calvin and Hobbes so much, but sadly Hobbes just can’t fit into this list. Sorry buddy.

The ‘We are Siamese’ Cats – These cats, from Lady & The Tramp, are pretty iconic I have to say. That song is a classic. They’re certainly deserving of a mention, but unfortunately don’t make my list.
Mr Bigglesworth – Dr Evil’s cat. Pretty disgusting looking. I’m not really a fan. Sorry, Biggles.
The Aristocats – Confession. I may have seen The Aristocrats when I was younger but I have hardly any memory of it and have never seen it in adulthood. So apologies to any characters in it that should be in a top ten list. But as I don’t know them they don’t make my list I’m afraid.
Smelly Cat – Smelly Cat from Friends becomes an ongoing reference in the show, and the song is something that you hear people singing every now and again in real life, so it’s definitely worth a mention here.
Azrael – Now we’re getting on to the big guns. I always had a bit of a soft spot for Gargamel’s cat in The Smurfs. He had quite a strong personality and also had to put up with Gargamel’s shenanigans. Just not quite iconic enough to make it into my list though.
Macavity: The Mystery Cat – We studied this T.S. Eliot poem at school, but it never really quite jived with me, so I thought I’d mention it here to show my culture awareness, but you’re not getting on my list I’m afraid mate.
Hello Kitty – I had actually initially added Hello Kitty to my list, but during my research I discovered that she isn’t actually a cat. I think I maybe remember this from the Netflix show ’The Toys That Made Us’. I still nearly added it as it certainly has a lot of feline influences and most people think of it as a cat, but for the sake of the purists I chose to remove it.

So here we go with the actual feline chart.

10 – Cheshire Cat
The Cheshire Cat with the cheesy grin probably should be in this list, but I’m sure some people would have it higher up. To be honest I’ve just never really had a huge connection to the Cheshire Cat or Alice in Wonderland, so it gets a place on merit but it has to be in the no.10 spot.

9 – Puss in Boots
Puss in Boots was always a story I liked when I was younger. I’m sure I had a nice illustrated book of it as a kid. But the character was taken to a whole new level of awareness with the hilarious depiction by Antonio Banderas in the Shrek movies. Those eyes!

8 – The Cat in the Hat
Funnily enough, I never had all that much Dr Zeuss in my life as a kid. I know it’s huge in America, and there’s probably a fair amount of it in the UK but it’s certainly not as big over here. I do remember it a bit but it’s more in adult life that I’ve had more awareness of his work. The Cat in the Hat really is a cultural phenomenon so it definitely has to appear in this list, particularly as my appreciation of Dr Zuess’s work grows all the time in adulthood. But sadly, due to my lack of personal connection with it it only reaches the no.9 position.

7 – Jess from Postman Pat
“Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat had a black and white cat.” That tune will be in the heads of most of the UK population for the rest of our lives. But I wonder how many would remember the cat’s name. I’d like to think maybe about 25% might. I loved Postman Pat and I always prided myself in knowing the cat’s name. Jess was pretty cool, and she definitely makes an appearance in my list.

6 – Heathcliff
I went through a phase of loving Heathcliff. Mainly from the cartoon “Heathcliff and Marmaduke” which had a great intro theme. I just thought he was a really cool character. He was smart, energetic and had attitude. I kind of felt he never quite became the iconic cat that some others in this list became, so no. 6 is where he lands.

5 – Lion-O
I debated this one for a long time. I nearly removed Lion-O due to the fact that he is more based on a big cat, but in the end I felt that he and the rest of the ThunderCats are more ‘cat influenced’ rather than actual big cats. And they have the word ‘cats’ in the show name. And there is a such a feline influence to that show that I just felt it would be wrong to exclude them. Perhaps I could have included Hobbes under the same rationale, but Hobbes is an actual tiger (albeit a toy version). Whereas Lion-O is a feline hero. 

4 – Cat from Red Dwarf
Another questionable one perhaps but I just had to include ‘Cat’. He is evolved from a household cat that was on the Red Dward ship so he definitely counts under my rules. I distinctly remember when Red Dwarf first came onto our airwaves on BBC2 in 1988. The trailer looked really interesting and everyone was glued to their TVs on the night of the first episode. The opening theme tune is fantastic and everyone absolutely loved the first appearance of the Cat. This sharp-dressed, slick-haired feline humanoid, pretty much moon-walking down the corridor. And later singing “I’m going to get you little fishy” etc. Such a unique character and expertly brought to life by Danny John-Jules.

3 – Tom
We’re getting into the classics now. And you can’t get more classic than Tom & Jerry. These cartoons were ever present in my childhood. Tom & Jerry, and also Disney features like The Jungle Book, really felt like ’the bar’ in terms of cartoons back in the day. Looney Tunes was definitely in the same ballpark, but Tom & Jerry just had a kind of aura about it that gave you the impression that everyone in the world new and liked Tom & Jerry. Tom was a great character and was a tough as nails after being hit with enough irons and anvils to make any normal cat give up and go home.

2 – Top Cat
We now have the two cats that are classic and iconic but also very close to my own heart. I loved the Top Cat cartoon. Or rather, I loved ‘Boss Cat’. It was very confusing. I believe we already had a cat food called Top Cat here in the UK so the cartoon had to be billed as Boss Cat in the TV guides. The theme tune still sang about ’Top Cat, the most effectual Top Cat!’ etc, but then the final screen of the intro sequence said ‘Boss Cat’ on the title card. And then in the show itself they all called him Top Cat or TC. It really confused me when I was younger, before I know about international syndication and intellectual property copyrights! But the cartoon was great. It was on regularly here in the UK and I was an avid watcher. TC was a brilliant character. I used to watch The Phil Silvers Show as a kid too and I immediately saw the connection between the main characters in the two shows, not least because Doberman and Benny the Ball are both voiced by Maurice Gosfield. A great show, but sadly TC is not quite the top cat in this particular list…

1 – Garfield
The no.1 place in my list has to go the sassiest, most sarcastic and coolest cat of them all, Garfield. I went through a phase of being a bit obsessed with Garfield, and around 1987 Garfield was absolutely massive in the UK. He was everywhere. T-shirts, mugs, birthday cards. And I also collected Garfield postcards. I have a memory of buying dozens of Garfield postcards and sticking them onto a big piece of paper and hanging it up in my bedroom. I had several of the comic strip books too and I also loved the cartoon when it came out in 1988. Lorenzo Music was absolutely perfect as the voice of Garfield. I used to draw Garfield endlessly and really built up a connection with the character. It was my favourite comic strip for a long time, until I discovered Calvin and Hobbes. So, Garfield takes my top cat spot here, and now all of a sudden I really fancy a lasagne.