The sleek, silhouetted form of the black cat has long proved alluring to pop culture artists and writers, especially those working in the medium of moving pictures. Whether starring in movies, popping up in TV shows or even lighting up the social media scene, here’s a salute to 10 sophisticated black cats on screen.
Felix The Cat
A pioneering icon among animated felines, Felix The Cat debuted in the black-and-white silent movie days. Sporting a permanent widemouthed grin, Felix’s shenanigans propelled him to stardom — until he was upstaged by a certain talking cartoon mouse from the Disney stable. Here’s a fun fact: Felix was the first cartoon likeness to be made into a parade balloon. He made his debut appearance in the 1933 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When The Simpsons’ white cat Snowball unfortunately passed away in a car accident, Homer and the family replaced her with a black kitty. Keeping things suitably screwy, they named the new feline Snowball II. Since then, the lineage of Snowball has reached a fifth incarnation of the cat — who retains the moniker Snowball II so as to save money on having to buy new food bowls.
The kitty co-star of the Sabrina The Teenage Witch TV series is an animatronic black cat called Salem Saberhagen who claims a fantastical origin story: According to lore, Salem is actually a 500-year-old witch who was sentenced by the Witches Council to live out the next 100 years in the form of a black cat. Salem’s crime? Just a little something called attempting world domination, as all self-respecting megalomaniacal felines are wont to attempt.
Back in the 1960s, The Munsters battled The Addams Family in a TV sitcom ratings battle. Supporting the Munster clan’s ghoulish gags was a no-nonsense feline named Kitty who ruled the roost at their 1313 Mockingbird Lane abode. Kitty’s calling card? A fondness for letting out an almighty lion’s roar when disturbed.
Set in the city of Salem, the opening to the 1993 family fantasy flick Hocus Pocus features the character Thackery Binx being magicked into a black cat by a trio of witches played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. Granted with immortality, Binx steps up to guard the homestead on Halloween so the meddling witches cannot be summoned back — a task he undertakes with great determination and bravery.
In the enchanting 1989 Studio Ghibli animated movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, the aspiring witch of the title zips around town on her broomstick carrying out good deeds, while her black cat companion Jiji contributes less-than-helpful sarcastic quips. In the American version of the film, Jiji’s sardonic asides are relayed by the voice of Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman.
Strutting into the social media realm, Rover is one of the black cat kings of Instagram. This foppish feline has dubbed himself “your favorite runway meowdel” and delights his 300,000 followers by donning fashion-forward outfits and parading up and down his in-home runway. As Rover brags in one video while sporting a flamboyant, fluffed-up, feather scarf, “The tail is everything.” Check him out @rover_thecat.
Princess Monster Truck
The legend of the fantastically named Princess Monster Truck begins in 2013 when a Persian kitty with an overbite tumbled out of a bush on a street in New York. After being offered a forever home by the humans who rescued her, Ms. Truck now spends her days delivering pro-adoption messages to her loyal army of Instagram fans. Check her out @princessmonstertruck.
Everyone loves a talking anime cat — and Luna from the Sailor Moon franchise is one of the genre’s most treasured felines. Sporting a signature moon on her forehead, Luna takes on a mentor role to the Sailor Team, becomes romantically smitten with the astronaut Kakeru, and reveals that her computer password translates as “the rabbit on the moon bakes mochi cakes.”
A shapeshifter who switches between human and feline forms, Isis is a sci-fi kitty who inhabits the Star Trek universe while sporting a signature bejeweled collar. Isis’s first key appearance aired in 1968, where during the episode Assignment: Earth she helped sabotage a nuclear missile. Fast forwarding to the 23rd century, Isis is also credited with thwarting a plot to assassinate Spock at the 2293 diplomatic Khitomer Conference.