World Cat Day: Cult cats of pop culture

Lifestyle Tuesday 08/August/2023 17:21 PM
By: DW
World Cat Day: Cult cats of pop culture
Image for Representation (Adobe Stock)

From Garfield to Grumpy Cat, these felines have proven they're the cat's meow in cartoons, books, musicals or films — even taking the internet by storm.

Monday-loathing lasagna lover

Making his debut in 1978, Garfield was the titular character of what would go on to become the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world. This corpulent, cynical orange tabby shares his abode with Odie, a rather hyper slobbering dog, and Jon, his human with a lonely streak. Garfield's standard feline response to anything? "Feed me." The Monday-loathing feline has a weakness for lasagna.

Grinning like a Cheshire cat

The shape-shifting Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" can make part of his body disappear at will or vanish altogether — leaving only his trademark grin behind. He also ponders existential matters: "A dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."

Resistance is futile

He performs the most difficult tasks and nabs the vilest culprits. Of noble Spanish lineage, he's swift and his claws are as sharp as glass cutters. He's the unstoppable Puss In Boots — unless he must indeed stop to cough up a fur ball. After brilliant performances — voiced by Spanish actor Antonio Banderas — in Disney's "Shrek" films, he even became the main protagonist of spin-off flicks.

Kitty has spoken

In "Petterson and Findus," a children's book series by Swedish author Sven Nordqvist, a lively kitten named Findus adds a little action to his elderly owner's life. Findus has a mischievous streak, but nobody can stay mad at him long. He has the ability to converse with other animals, but with only one human: "his old man" Petterson. The Nordic cat epic was also adapted into animated versions.

'I tawt I taw a puddy tat'

No guesses as to what this line, often uttered by the quick-witted canary Tweety, actually means. Targeted as a snack by tuxedo cat Sylvester, the feathered fella often outfoxes the feline, prompting the latter to exclaim in his trademark lisp: "Sufferin' succotash!"

Both characters belongs to the Looney Tunes lineup of animated characters.

Playing cat and mouse

Meanwhile at the house of Hanna-Barbera, Tom and Jerry swept the movie screens from 1940 until 1967 in a series of comedy short films, later becoming TV stars. The storyline couldn't be simpler: Tom the cat pursues the faster Jerry the mouse. The wild chases have a low violence threshold with detonations happening frequently. Seven Tom and Jerry movies won Oscars, with six more being nominated.

Rhapsody in pink

A staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese pop culture, Hello Kitty — whose full name is Kitty White — is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, created by Yuko Shimizu and designed by Yuko Yamaguchi. In the 1970s, a small pink purse was the first product to bear the image of the kitty sporting a pink bow on her head. Pink remains her color.

A furry heiress

Choupette, a Burmese cat, was late designer Karl Lagerfeld's muse. Wherever he went, she wasn't far behind, in a custom-designed traveling bag, with two ladies-in-waiting, a chef and a body guard. Choupette became famous as a model, has 258,000 Instagram followers and has been living literally in the lap of luxury. After the Chanel and Fendi designer died in 2019, this cat inherited $1.5 million.

The face that launched a thousand memes?

Her real name was Tardar Sauce but she quickly became an internet sensation and rechristened "Grumpy Cat" after a picture of her permanently "grumpy" facial expression was shared online. Caused by an underbite and feline dwarfism, her (in)famous visage became the subject of an internet meme. Though she died in May 2019, Grumpy Cat arguably remains the web's most famous feline.

An antenna for aliens

Remember Jones — or Jonesy — as Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley calls the ginger cat in Ridley Scott’s famous sci-fi film Alien? As an acid-spewing alien systematically kills off the crew of the spacecraft Nostromo, Jonesy and Ripley become the sole survivors who flee in a capsule but not before Jonesy senses and warns Ripley that the beast was also trying to get on their getaway ride.

When humans play 'Cats'

And while cats today are said to be "the unofficial mascot of the internet," they rule onstage in Broadway or the West End too. Well, at least with humans playing them. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" is based on T. S. Eliot's book of poems "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." The sung-through musical centers around the Jellicle Cats, a group of highly individual junkyard felines.