Cats have a bad reputation for being aloof and sometimes downright mean. People tell me my cat is gross because he poops in a box and that he’d eat me if he had the chance. One, Zucchini would never do that. Two, your dog would definitely eat you, too. What I’m saying is that cats are often seen as evil, duplicitous creatures ready to pounce on their humans at any moment. Horror films has latched on to this fear of cats throughout its history, using felines as figures of superstition.
Yes, there are some horrifying cats on this list, but I swear not all cats are bad! While most of the cats on this list have a test for human flesh, some, such as Jonesy from Alien, are the good guys, warning humans of nasty aliens. And others, like Church from Pet Sematary suffer the consequences of humanity’s fear of death. Check out this list of 10 of horror’s favorite felines, and if you want more of scary cats, check out this list.
10. Hellboy’s Cats in Hellboy (2004)
The big red demon of Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 film has a surprising soft spot: cats. His room is filled with the mewing creatures, who are dwarfed by his massive size and even more massive stone hand. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t treat them with love! They crawl over him proving that there is definitely more than meets the eyes with the horned Hellboy.
9. Gina’s Cats in Let the Right One In (2008)
The moody Swedish vampire movie, Let the Right One In, isn’t really about cats, but it has quite an amazing cat attack scene. Gina comes home after being turned into a vampire and her cats are not happy about it. As soon as she walks in the door, they start hissing at her (there are a lot of cats). Then, they attack. They jump up her body and starting biting and scratching her until she falls down a flight of stairs. I guess cats don’t like vampires.
8. Bloodthirsty Pit Full of Cats in The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972)
Reneé Cardona Jr. directed quite a film called The Night of a Thousands Cats, sometimes known as Blood Feast. The film stars Hugo Stiglitz as playboy serial killer, Hugo, who lures women to his castle in Mexico. However, he doesn’t tell them he’ll be feeding them to his pit of hungry, angry cats. There are 1,000 of these cats to be precise. Why does he have these cats? Because he’s rich and can. If you think about it too hard you’ll start feeling really bad for these cats who are trained to eat the human remains thrown to them by Hugo and his assistant, Dorgo. But don’t worry, these kitties do get their satisfying revenge.
7. All of the Cats in The Uncanny (1977)
Peter Cushing stars in Denis Héroux’s 1977 film, The Uncanny, as a man suffering from ailurophobia and believes cats are figures of supernatural sent to this Earth to terrorize humanity. He then tells three tales of evil cats, each tale being a chapter from his new book. However, despite his fear of cats, in each story the cat is avenging their owner’s death, murdering in the name of revenge and not outright hatred for humans. Each owner is a woman, too, so perhaps this man is just scared of women. Much to think about it.
6. Irena in Cat People (1942)
No, this is not the iconic David Bowie song. 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.
5. The Uninvited in Uninvited (1988)
Sometimes you lose a cat who also happens to be a mutant science experiment. In Greydon Clarks’ Uninvited, this mutant inhabits the mouth of a regular house cat. The house cat then will vomit out the mutant, which has toxic saliva, so this is basically the feline version of a Xenomorph. This strange creature convinces two young women that he is in fact a stray looking for food. They bring him aboard a luxurious yacht and he embarks on one bloody trip. It is the epitome of a B-monster movie and it is glorious.
4. Mr. Whiskers in The Voices (2014)
Sometimes you talk to your cats. But do they ever talk back? Marjane Satrapi examines that possibility in her 2014 film, The Voices, where Ryan Reynolds plays a serial killer who can talk to his pets. Jerry’s, played by Reynolds, cat, Mr. Whiskers (also voiced by Reynolds) tells Jerry to kill people. His dog, Bosco (also voiced by Reynolds) also talks to him, but he is more like the angel on his shoulder, while Mr. Whiskers is very much the devil. He lets his cat convince him to essentially become a serial killer and murder the woman who do him wrong. All you need in life is the validation from your cat to commit crimes!
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. Church in Pet Sematary (1989)
Sweet Church is the beloved pet of Ellie Creed in both Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, and the film adaptation of the same name. Named after British prime minister, Winston Churchill, this cat is Ellie’s best friend, sleeping with her every night and becoming a focus for her anxieties about death. Well, sadly, her anxieties weren’t too far off the mark and Church 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 near their family home, which was actually a Micmac Indian burial ground. 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”. Church’s resurrection is only the beginning of a series of sad and violent events for the Creed family. Regardless, Church has become one of the most iconic cats in horror history and hopefully Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s adaptation of the novel will keep Church at such an iconic status.