Famous Cartoon Cats
Some of our well-loved cartoon cats in history have also been the most famous cartoon characters of all time. Not surprising as humans have a long history with these felines, even dating to ancient times. People love them so much that there are countless debates among pet lovers as to whether dogs or cats are better. Regardless, people of all kinds can probably agree that cats, both real and fictional, can leave their mark.
Here are 30 famous cartoon cats for all the cat lovers out there. Perhaps you have a new cat and are looking for name inspirations. This list could help you give some! And although this list primarily features fictional cats, just for a bit of variety, it also gives spotlight to the feline’s close relatives. It’s not just famous house cats that you will see on this list!
Hello Kitty is perhaps the most famous Japanese cat of all time, and perhaps even the most famous in the world. She’s the central character of a multi-billion dollar franchise created by Sanrio and is one of the iconic symbols of Japan’s kawaii (cute) subculture.
Kitty White is the official name of Hello Kitty. She was introduced by Sanrio in 1974 as a way to promote their merchandise. And although Hello Kitty is a Japanese brand, the character is British. Sanrio made her British because British culture was very popular in Japan at the time of her conception.
One interesting aspect of Hello Kitty’s design is her lack of a mouth. According to her creators, this was done out of a desire to let fans project their feelings into her. While Sanrio has many other beloved characters such as My Melody and Keroppi, Hello Kitty remains on top.
Fun Fact: Hello Kitty’s birthday is November 1. This commemorates the anniversary of the day Sanrio released her first product (a coin purse).
Thomas Jasper Cat Sr., better known by his nickname “Tom”, has been one of the two faces of the Tom and Jerry brand since its first cartoon premiered in 1940. With his undying appeal, he is indeed one of the most famous cartoon cats on this list. Just the sounds and sight of the MGM lion roaring followed by Tom and Jerry’s smiling faces is one of the most famous intros in all of the cartoons. Unsurprisingly for such an iconic cartoon, Tom and Jerry has inspired many fictional creations.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera created Tom and Jerry for MGM based on the idea of two characters always chasing each other. Like most cartoons at the time, theaters were the main way to see them. The cartoon, obviously, was a hit.
Hanna and Barbera of course would go on to establish Hanna-Barbera, one of the most famous American animation studios of all time. Tom and Jerry has spawned multiple films, spin-offs, video games, and other media. It also inspired The Itchy and Scratchy, a show within a show, from The Simpsons.
Fun Fact: Tom and Jerry’s names came from a popular drink called Tom and Jerry! John Carr, an animator, won an internal contest to name the duo. For his efforts, he was awarded $50 (over $1,000 in 2002 dollars!)
Jim Davis’s lasagna-loving cat has spawned multiple forms of media ever since his 1974 debut. From the cartoons starring Lorenzo Music to the 2004 film starring Bill Murray, Garfield has made his mark in cartoon history. Davis named Garfield after his grandfather, who in turn was named after former U.S. President James Garfield.
Garfield is, of course, one of Jon Arbuckle’s pets along with Odie the dog. Garfield isn’t the only cat in the franchise, though. There’s also his recurring love interest Arlene and his occasional rival Nermal. The franchise is set in Muncie, Indiana, which is actually Davis’s hometown. Davis’s love for lasagna inspired one of Garfield’s most notable traits.
Luna and Artemis are two cats that serve as companions to the Sailor Scouts in Sailor Moon. However, this article focuses on Luna as she’s the titular character’s familiar.
Luna is a black cat who has a crescent symbol on her head. She often serves as a guide to the characters and helps them during their battles.
The Cat in the Hat
The titular character of Dr. Seuss’s book The Cat in The Hat is known for, well, his hat. In the book, he entertains two kids while their mother is not at home. He does so by doing tricks such as using a machine to clean up after him just before he goes.
The Cat in the Hat is probably one of Dr. Seuss’s most well-known characters. He spawned a cartoon special, as well as a 2003 film. The film starring Mike Myers, however, proved to be a critical and commercial failure. In fact, the reception was so bad that Seuss’s widow banned future live-action adaptations of her late husband’s work.
Fun Fact: Dr. Seuss wrote the book based on two rhyming words.
Cheshire Cat is one of the more famous characters in Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The character also appears in the work’s many adaptations, including, of course, the animated films.
One of the cat’s notable characteristics is the ability to appear and disappear. Even when the cat disappears, its signature smile remains. This trait, along with the character’s name, actually has an interesting history. They are both references to the phrase “grin like a Cheshire Cat”. This was a popular saying at the time the story was first written.
Puss in Boots
People today probably know Puss in Boots as the fierce but loveable cat from the Shrek franchise, despite being based on an Italian fairy tale. The cat, played by Antonio Banderas, is very popular that he even has a spin-off series of his own.
Originally introduced in Shrek 2, Puss in Boots was first introduced as a villain. After learning who Shrek truly is, he became one of his most trusted protectors and friends.
Gumball Watterson is the protagonist of The Amazing World of Gumball. He’s one of the newer characters on this list, with the show he’s featured in premiering in 2011. While his series may be recent, he makes up for it with his personality.
Gumball’s antics are his main distinguishing characteristic. In particular, he is known to annoy his sister Anais and their parents. He often plays with his best friend Darwin, the family’s former pet who has since grown legs. Gumball’s antics graced Cartoon Network’s airwaves from 2011 to 2019, spanning six seasons overall.
Felix the Cat
Felix might not be the famous cat on this list, but he’s one of the most historic. In fact, historians consider him perhaps the first big cartoon star, entertaining audiences since his 1919 debut. That’s right, Felix the Cat is over 100 years old!
Despite Felix’s age, his popularity remains timeless. Up to this day, he’s still seen in animations, video games, and other forms of media. Some sources claim that his popularity actually led to Felix being a popular name for cats! Incidentally, his name means “happy” in Latin, but it’s also similar to the term “feline”. “Feline”, in turn, comes from the Latin “felis”, meaning cat.
The Pink Panther
Now, The Pink Panther is technically not a cat, or at least not the house cat we often think of when “cat” is mentioned. Still, The Pink Panther is one of the most famous felines in all of cinema, so this list would be incomplete without him. And since panthers are felines, and felines are also called cats, this makes him one of the most famous cartoon cats ever.
Interestingly enough, The Pink Panther was originally just a mascot and not a full-fledged character. He debuted in the 1963 film of the same name, appearing in the film’s opening and closing credits. However, the “Pink Panther” in the film actually refers to a jewel, not an actual cat! However, the character took on a life of his own and spawned his own franchise. He’s since appeared in comic books, video games, and animated films.
His theme song is also iconic. Henry Mancini composed the tune for the film, and it’s been used in the franchise’s entries.
Fun Fact: Panthers aren’t actually a single species. The term “black panther” refers to black-furred leopards or jaguars. Meanwhile, the Florida panther is actually a mountain lion or puma. “Panther” comes from the genus name Panthera, which also includes lions and tigers!
If you have a good memory of the early days of the smartphone era, you may remember a certain novelty app. This app allowed users to play with a virtual cat, much like having a virtual pet. He could even repeat the user’s dialogue. This app, of course, was Talking Tom.
Talking Tom was one of the more popular apps of the early 2010s. He entertained audiences young and old with his antics and abilities. Today, he’s probably better known for his appearances in YouTube videos. His channel, which features him, his love interest Angela, and multiple other characters, has almost 28 million subscribers.
Simba is one of the most famous Disney felines around. After all, he is the protagonist of The Lion King, its sequel, and its musical adaptation. His name is actually the Swahili word for “lion”. Swahili is one of the main African languages.
After his uncle Scar kills his father Mufasa, Simba was exiled and eventually goes on to reclaim the throne that was taken from him. The series ends with Simba marrying his childhood friend Nala. Simba and Nala’s daughter Kiara is the central character in the film’s direct-to-video sequel The Lion King II.
Penelope is admittedly one of the lesser-known characters on this list, but that doesn’t make her any less memorable. She is best known for being Pepe le Pew’s love interest in Looney Tunes. And if you don’t remember who Pepe is, he’s the love-struck skunk from Looney Tunes. He’s always out for love, and Penelope is often the apple of his eye. Incidentally, skunks and cats are only distantly related (they both belong to the mammal order Carnivora). Maybe that’s why Pepe is usually unsuccessful in winning her heart.
Tigger isn’t a house cat, but a tiger. He is best known for being Winnie-the-Pooh’s sidekick since his debut in 1928. Incidentally, he’s actually younger than the yellow honey-loving bear who was first introduced in 1924. Notably, Pooh (the character) entered the public domain in 2022, but Tigger will have to wait until 2024.
Tigger gets his name from his personality. He’s known for mixing-up his words, to the point he can’t even spell his name right. This is why he spells his name as “tigger”.
What? Two Lion King representatives on this list? That’s bias! Seriously though, Mufasa deserves his spot on the list considering he’s as famous as his son. Yup, two of the most famous cartoon cats of all time are father and son.
Just like Simba, Mufasa’s name comes from Swahili, which is the word for “king”. Mufasa’s death after falling into a stampede of wildebeest is one of the most iconic and saddest moments of the film. Still, his sacrifice would inspire his son for years to come. Audiences were also moved by his love for his son evidenced by The Lion King still extremely popular ever since its 1994 premiere.
Tony the Tiger
Tony the Tiger is not just one of the most famous cartoon cats of all time. He’s also probably the most iconic cereal mascot of all time. Well, if you love cereals, you’ll recognize him as the face of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Interestingly enough, when he debuted in 1952, Kellogg’s also planned other mascots. Per Kellogg’s website, Frosted Flakes also had three other mascots. They were Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant, and Newt the Gnu. A company-wide contest to give Frosted Flakes a mascot led to the four’s creation. In the end, Tony won and the other three faded into obscurity.
Although Tony is primarily the mascot for Frosted Flakes, he’s also the mascot for other products. Apart from appearing in packaging, he also features prominently in Kellogg’s advertisements. His smiling face become beloved by fans young and old of the cereal product.
Next to Hello Kitty, Meowth is probably one of the most famous Japanese cartoon cats of all time. He’s called Nyarth in Japanese and is also known by other names in other languages. He’s been a member of Team Rocket since Pokémon’s debut in 1997. He and Wobbuffet pretty much serve as Team Rocket’s mascots. He chases Ash and his friends together with fellow Team Rocket members Jessie (Musashi) and James (Koujirou).
Unlike most Pokémon, Meowth can speak. This is unlike other Pokémon in the anime, who either only say their names or can only speak telepathically. Meowth actually gained the ability to speak because he wanted to act like a human. This was after a female Meowth named Meowzie rejected him.
Although Team Rocket is supposed to be evil, they have served as comic relief over the show’s 20-year run. Many of Team Rocket’s Pokémon have come and gone, but Meowth has remained a constant. There’s some debate among fans as to whether or not Team Rocket should remain in the series. However, there’s no denying that the anime would not be the same without them and Meowth’s antics.
Fun Fact: Jessie’s Japanese voice actress, Megumi Hayashibara, is one of Japan’s most famous voice actors. Her notable roles include Rei Ayanami in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop, and appropriately for this list, Hello Kitty!
Figaro is a recurring character in the Disney universe. He originally debuted in 1940’s Pinocchio. However, today he’s Minnie Mouse’s cat. Interestingly enough, Figaro’s role in the Disney canon was courtesy of a very important person. None other than Walt Disney himself was a fan of Figaro. In fact, he liked Figaro so much that he told production to show Figaro as much as possible. After the film’s success, Figaro became Minnie Mouse’s cat, replacing an earlier cat named Fifi.
Today, Figaro appears in Minnie Mouse-related media, including shorts and merchandise. He may not necessarily be one of the most famous cartoon cats out there, but at least he has a spot in ‘ol Walt’s heart.
Snowball isn’t a single cat. In fact, there have been five Snowball cats in the Simpson household. The first Snowball, labeled Snowball I, died before the events of the series. Snowball II was the first to physically appear on-screen, but she was later killed off. In fact, one of the gags in The Simpsons is that the Snowballs died unusual deaths. As of 2022, the Simpsons are at Snowball V. Let’s hope she doesn’t suffer a fate like her predecessors.
Snowball is, of course, not the only famous cat to come from The Simpsons. But we’ll get to the other one later.
Sylvester is, of course, the main cat character in the Looney Tunes franchise. He’s been one of the most famous cartoon cats of all time since his debut in 1945. Fans and non-fans alike probably best know him for being Tweety’s rival. Just like Tom and Jerry, Sylvester’s main goal is to catch Tweety, but he’s never been successful. Tweety, of course, has the famous catchphrase “I tawt I taw a puddy tat”, which is one of Mel Blanc’s signature quips.
An old woman named Granny serves as Sylvester and Tweety’s owner in many forms of Looney Tunes media. In some installments, she owns a bulldog named Hector, who stops Sylvester whenever he tries to get Tweety. While Tweety is Sylvester’s main adversary, Sylvester has also gotten into trouble with Speedy Gonzales and other characters.
Cat from CatDog
Cat is one of Nickelodeon’s most unusual yet iconic characters. He, together with his conjoined twin Dog, were the protagonists of the long-running cartoon CatDog. The show’s premise is that Cat and Dog are two heads and legs of the same four-legged creature. It’s an unusual concept of course, but audiences loved it. It’s no wonder that the show lasted from 1998 to 2005, a good run for a Nickelodeon cartoon.
Cat’s personality can’t be any more different from his brother’s. As is typical in many cartoons, Cat is the smart and ambitious one, while Dog is the dumb one. But this contrast led to many jokes and antics.
Fun Fact: Dog is voiced by Tom Kenny. Kenny is perhaps best known for voicing SpongeBob SquarePants, but he’s voiced many other iconic characters. His impressive resume includes the Mayor in The PowerPuff Girls, Eduardo in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and the Ice King in Adventure Time.
Hobbes probably has a good claim to being the second-most famous cartoon cat to come out of comics. Number 1 of course would be Garfield, but Hobbes should be up there.
Hobbes, of course, is one part of the duo Calvin and Hobbes. He is a stuffed tiger who’s alive whenever he’s with his owner Calvin. They often go into philosophical arguments about human nature and other topics. Quite appropriate given their names. Calvin is named after John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism and a proponent of the idea of predestination in Christianity. Hobbes, on the other hand, takes his name from Thomas Hobbes, one of the most influential political philosophers in history.
Bill Watterson created Calvin and Hobbes in 1985, originally as a spin-off of an earlier comic called In the Dog House. Watterson famously refused to greenlight any official merchandise for the comic. He claimed that doing so would cheapen the integrity of the comic’s philosophical themes. He did once joke in an interview that the famous Calvin peeing stickers would be his “ticket to immortality”.
Top Cat is one of the more memorable characters to come out of Hanna-Barbera’s wide repertoire. Even though his show only lasted for a single season and 30 episodes, he left quite an impression.
He is not necessarily one of the most famous cartoon cats out there, but he does have an interesting series. He and his friends aim to be top cats in a New York alley. They’d do this by doing get-rich schemes, all while avoiding the attention of the police. His series has gained enough popularity that it’s spawned at least two films. However, neither of them was well received.
Snagglepuss is another one of the most famous cartoon cats from the Hanna-Barbera universe. Well, he’s actually a pink mountain lion. Or if you prefer, a pink panther. However, he made his debut in 1959, some years before The Pink Panther came out.
Although he’s best known for being one of the supporting characters in The Yogi Bear Show, he’s appeared in all sorts of media. He has starred in commercials as well as his own DC comic. Notably, the comic establishes him as being gay, ending decades of speculation about his sexuality. Not bad for a character who debuted in 1959.
Happy is one of the members of the Fairy Tail guild in the eponymous anime series. His name says it all: Happy is known for being usually happy. He serves as a familiar to Natsu and the other Fairy Tail members and as comic relief.
In Japan, he is voiced by Rie Kugimiya. Kugimiya has quite the reputation among anime fans as she’s best known for voicing tsundere characters. In fact, one of her nicknames is “Queen of Tsundere”. However, Happy is not a tsundere. Whether anime fans should have a sigh of relief with that or not is another matter.
We were originally considering including Totoro on this list, but Totoro isn’t exactly a cat. He is a mixture of various animals, including the tanuki and the cat, but he’s not even a feline. He gets an honorable mention at best here.
Instead, for My Neighbor Totoro‘s representation, we’re going with the Catbus. At least Catbus is unambiguously a cat. As its name suggests, Catbus is a cat-shaped bus. But it’s not just a cat-shaped bus. It’s literally a bus that’s also a cat. Instead of wheels, it has legs. Eight of them! Next to Totoro, the Catbus is probably the second-most famous character in the film. Indeed, Catbus is probably one of the most famous Studio Ghibli characters ever.
Incidentally, Catbus remains one of the main aspects of My Neighbor Totoro merchandising. The Ghibli Museum even has a full-sized Catbus which visitors can enter. And yes, it’s as fluffy as it sounds.
Fun Fact: Studio Ghibli takes its name from an African wind of the same name. Hayao Miyazaki chose the name because he wanted Studio Ghibli to “blow a new wind” for Japanese animation. Incidentally, the car Maserati Ghibli takes its name from the same wind.
Stimpson J. Cat, better known by his nickname Stimpy, is probably one of the most famous cartoon cats to come out of the 1990s. Yet he may also be one of the most controversial. Many have written about the show’s themes and style of humor. They were so controversial that the series moved from Nickelodeon to MTV for its final season. News media have also reported John Kricfalusi’s controversies over the last few years. Regardless, Stimpy remains in the hearts of many kids of the ’90s. A Comedy Central reboot is currently in production. While many fans have mixed feelings, there’s no doubt that Stimpy and Ren’s antics have left an impression.
Duchess may not necessarily be one of the most famous cartoon cats in the Disney repertoire. Still, her film The Aristocats has a sizable fanbase.
She’s essentially the main character of the film. The movie follows Duchess and three other cats’ journey home after being abandoned. Notably, Duchess’s owner bequeathed her a large fortune but said owner’s butler took it for himself. Along the way, she meets characters such as Thomas O’Malley and others, who made their journey more colorful.
Duchess’s popularity made the name a popular choice for pet cat names. It’s particularly popular among cats with a similar personality to hers.
As suggested earlier, Scratchy is a recurring cat character in The Simpsons. He stars in the in-universe The Itchy and Scratchy series together with Itchy the mouse. He’s obviously meant to be a parody of Tom Cat, down to his gray color. Famously, in one The Simpsons episode they had another dog friend named Poochie (voiced by Homer’s voice actor Dan Castellaneta). However, Poochie was killed off (on the way back to this home planet) due to poor reception.
Scratchy, being a caricature of cat-and-mouse cartoons, often tries to kill Itchy (and vice versa). Some of their plans are comical, such as the use of chainsaws and tying one on a railroad. Notably, Scratchy is often injured or even killed in segments, only to be alive again in the next episodes as if nothing happened. These outcomes are a clear parody of classic cartoon slapstick tropes.
There’s an argument as to whether Snowball or Scratchy is the more famous The Simpsons cat. What isn’t arguable is that Scratchy has been one of the most memorable aspects of the series.
Finally, we have Sergeant Tibbs. He’s the cat who takes care of the puppies in the classic Disney film 101 Dalmatians. A cat taking care of dogs? Isn’t that pretty unusual? Well, it is in real life. However, this is Disney we’re talking about, so of course, there will be some creative liberties.
Sergeant Tibbs is not the most assuming of cats. He’s a small brown cat that is not as imposing as the others on this list but is loveable in his own way. He gets his name from how he follows orders, much like a soldier.
Interestingly enough, Sergeant Tibbs wasn’t always Sergeant Tibbs. In the novel the film was based on, there was a cat named Tibb. Incidentally, Tibb was a female cat.