It’s no secret that cats have a questionable reputation. They’re seen as nonchalant, cunning, and totally apathetic to humanity. This may be why they’re often maligned in horror and seen as objects of bad luck, but they’re also figures of protection. I may be biased since I have, in recent years, become a cat person with the adoption of a certain old man cat named Zucchini.
Since October 29 is National Cat Day, it feels only right to celebrate some of horror’s best felines. Some are protectors of humanity and some are evil, showcasing the true duality of the feline.
10. Cat in Coraline (2009)
Coraline is perhaps one of the most disturbing films for kids in recent memory. The Other Mother is the stuff of nightmares, though little Coraline seems to like her at first. However, the cat, voiced by Keith David (The Thing), appears and warns the child about the horrors of Other Mother. This is a perfect instance of a cat coming to the aid of humanity.
9. Ligeia in The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
Why this film? You can see Vincent Prince fight a cat in this film. Why does he fight said cat? The cat is the ghostly visage of his dead wife. Vincent Price plays Verden Fell, a man mourning the death of his wife, Ligeia. Her spirit haunts their mansion and comes to Fell in the form of a black cat in a series of dreams. Eventually, Fell confronts the spirit by, you know it, fighting a black cat.
8. Cat in Cat’s Eye (1985)
In another adaptation of Stephen King’s work, Cat’s Eye follows a cat through three short horror vignettes. We are literally seeing horror through a cat’s eyes. The cat takes the most prominent role in the final story, “General,’ where he saves Drew Barrymore from a creature living in the walls.
7. Irena in Cat People
No, this is not the iconic David Bowie song or Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake. 1942’s Cat People follows a young Serbian fashion designer, Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon). She becomes obsessed with idea that she is a descendant of an ancient tribe of cat people. These cat people transform when they become angry or sexual aroused. So this adds quite a few complications as Irena falls in love. Cat People is a fascinating depiction of female sexuality, how it manifests, and its destructive powers.
6. Church in Pet Sematary (1989)
Sweet Church, the beloved pet of Ellie Creed in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. He falls victim to the highway by the Creed’s home, which is known for its speeding traffic. However, Church doesn’t stay dead for long. Louis Creed buries the beloved family pet in the pet sematary. To his surprise, Church comes back the next day. But, he isn’t the same cat as before: he’s mean, smelly, and seems “a little dead”.
5. Kuroneko (1968)
Kuroneko, or Black Cat, is a 1968 Japanese film about two women who are resurrected by a black cat to enact revenge on the samurai who murdered them. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful horror films ever made. It achieves a perfect balance of the eerie and the melancholy. While these women appear to be human, the echoing yowls of a cat remind you that they’ve lost their humanity. They are actually catlike vampires with the goal of drinking the blood of every samurai on the planet.
4. Rufus in ReAnimator (1985)
“Cat Dead, Details Later” is one of the most iconic moments in horror film. Poor Rufus is a casualty in the reanimating experiments of Herbert West, who believes he has found the cure for death. Yes, West does bring Rufus back, but he isn’t the same cat, exactly. Rufus’s revival sets off a chain of horrific, zombie-filled events that make you rethink ever wanting to try and reanimate the dead.
3. Binx in Hocus Pocus (1993)
This movie made me think a cat was hot. Hear me out. I didn’t think Binx as a cat was hot, but his human form sure was, at least to a young me. In the iconic Halloween film, Hocus Pocus, Binx was once a human but was transformed into an immortal black cat by the Sanderson Sisters. Doomed to live forever, Binx in his cat form attempts to prevent the revival of the witchy sister. However, it’s all in vain when teen Max Dennison ressurrects them to impress his crush. Teenage boys will do anything to get the girl.
Binx then helps Max and Dani Dennison fight the witches as much as a little cat can. I always wished for a talking cat after seeing Hocus Pocus.
2. Jonesy in Alien (1979)
Why did they bring a cat on the ship Nostromo? Who knows! Regardless, Alien brought us one of horror’s most iconic felines: Jonesy. The orange tabby that wanders the labyrinthine halls of the massive ship offers not only slight comic relief, but a warning for an approaching Xenomorph. He also lets us glimpse into Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) more emotional side: instead of leaving Jonesy behind, she takes precious escape time into wrangling the cat.
Plus, Alien and Ridley Scott respected the world’s feelings and let Jonesy survive the film and settle nicely into Ripley’s escape pod.
1. Blanche in Hausu (1977)
Hausu is, in a word, bonkers. The 1977 Japanese horror film features colorful, almost nonsensical, visuals and is a masterpiece of the bizarre. The film follows a group of girls who travel to the countryside and stay an aunt’s house. However, the house seems to be murdering them off one by one. At center of this narrative is an evil cat, Blanche. She doesn’t seem so evil at first, mostly because she’s white and fluffy and adorable. But as the girls begin to die, it seems that perhaps Blanche is partially responsible for these deaths.
Honorable mention: the kitten in American Psycho (2000)
This is a very short moment in Mary Harron’s American Psycho, but one that has stuck with me for years. In this scene, Patrick Bateman picks up a stray cat while at the ATM. Strangely, the ATM flashes the words, “feed me a stray cat.” He decides not to question that, and picks up a stray cat, aims a gun at its head, and starts to try and feed it into the ATM. Thankfully he doesn’t kill the cat, only the old woman who tried to intervene.
Are you a cat person, or do you think they’re only here to steal your soul and push cups of water off your tables? Who is your favourite cat in horror? Let us know on Twitter, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook.