Updated: March 8, 2021 by Kristen Chapple
Grumpy cat, Maru, and Puss in Boots – these names offer a very brief insight into the crazy world of celebrity cats. With the rise of the internet and social media, cats have assumed their rightful place of domination over humans filling our free time with cat memes, YouTube videos, and adorable kitten pics.
An estimated 2 million cat videos have been uploaded to YouTube since the site started and have amassed a combined viewing figure of over 24.6 billion. We accept it. Internet cats reign supreme— and that’s without mentioning the fierce felines of days gone by, such as Bastet, the cat god of Ancient Egypt. Below, for your reading pleasure and trivia indulgence, we have rounded up the most famous cats in history whether living, regretfully gone, or always animated.
An instantly recognizable figure, Grumpy cat became an internet sensation in 2012 with her constantly scowling expression which offered the perfect combination of sour grumpiness and adorable attitude.
Her real name is Tardar Sauce, and she has a form of dwarfism and a prominent underbite, which explains her grumpy-looking yet still super cute exterior. Born in Arizona in 2012, she is one of four siblings, and the only one to reach international stardom because of her famous features.
The star of countless internet memes, her influence is still going strong with a range of projects in the pipeline, including media appearances, merchandise, and even whispers of a book.
Forget PewdiePie and Jenna Marbles— the top YouTube spot should go to Maru. This Scottish fold feline resides in Japan and is most famous for his obsession with boxes of all sizes and shapes.
Maru’s ultimate life goal seems to be squeezing his furry frame into as many different box spaces as physically possible resulting in impossibly cute videos.
As of March 2017, this famous cat was able to boost the reputation of being the most-viewed animal on YouTube and has a DVD and various media appearances to his name.
Keeping Up With the Catdashians
No, that’s not a typo. Catdashians are an actual thing. Not tied to a specific cat, these furry felines have nonetheless earned their place on this list. The concept consists of a large, oversized dollhouse, in which rescue kittens live and grow until they can be adopted.
The original crew consisted of four stars; Guðni, Ronja, Briet, and Stubbur, but the ‘cast’ rotates as the new kitties are adopted to loving homes—a far nicer concept than a brutal elimination!
There is a live stream into the house for viewers to keep in touch with their favorite feline, as well as a wealth of YouTube ‘highlights’ to catch up on. Reality TV featuring furry stars? Sounds like the perfect show!
Bastet and Mafdet
Speaking of celebrity, we couldn’t make this list without including one of the most famous cats from history, Bastet, also known as Bast. She was more than a cat, being worshipped as a Goddess as early as the Second Dynasty.
Bastet is the Ancient Egyptian goddess of the home, domesticity, women’s secrets, fertility, cats, and childbirth and was said to protect the home from evil spirits and disease. In particular, those associated with women and children.
The daughter of the Sun god Ra, she is associated with the concept of the ‘all-seeing eye,’ or the ‘Eye of Ra,’ as well as the Distant Goddess— a female deity who leaves Ra and brings transformation on her return. In addition, she was also given a role in the afterlife tasked with guiding and helping the dead, though this was not her primary duty.
Bastet, while undeniably famous, is not a surprising element of Egyptian culture, being they worshipped cats, and are often credited with being the first culture to truly domesticate them. In fact, Bastet wasn’t the first cat-turned-goddess the Egyptians had.
She had a predecessor, Mafdet. Mafdet was likewise a cat goddess, but her reign was during the first dynasty. Often described as a woman with the head or lion or cheetah, Mafdet, the ‘runner,’ was said to protect her followers from snakes and scorpions on their travels as well as guard their homes from intruders. It’s unknown why she lost her cat-cult to Bastet, but she shares her usurper’s spot on our list for the most famous cats.
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Before he was a movie star, Bob was just a regular cat— apart from the fact that he literally saved a life. James Bowden was a homeless heroin addict living in London who had resigned himself into watching his life fall into a downward spiral of despair.
A little ginger tom changed all that. Bob attached himself to James, and Bowden credits him with sparking his journey to recovery, writing in his book that; “I believe it came down to this little man…He came and asked me for help, and he needed me more than I needed to abuse my own body.”
With Bob’s strength and support, James successfully turned his life around, and the story of the devoted duo is now a Hollywood blockbuster! We all need a Bob in our lives.
This wouldn’t be a list of famous cats without including a real-life Guinness World Record holder! Colonel Meow was a Himalayan-Persian crossbreed who held the 2014 Guinness World record for the longest fur on a cat. At the time, Colonel Meow’s coat was around 9 inches long. Following this recognition, he embarked on his celebrity career with his scowling face taking over Instagram and Facebook.
He amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and was lovingly described as, amongst other things,“a prodigious Scotch drinker,” “an adorable fearsome dictator,” and, impressively, “the angriest cat in the world.” He sadly passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on.
Possibly the most famous cartoon cat ever, Hello Kitty, or Kitty White, to use her official name, is more than merely a cat. She is an internationally recognized brand. Created by Yuko Shimizu, she is currently designed by Yuko Yamaguchi and was produced by the Japanese company Sanrio in 1974.
The founder, Shintaro Tsuji, began having success selling rubber sandals decorated with cute flowers and became aware of the power of design. He hired a team to produce a line of character merchandise, and Hello Kitty was born. Her reach has spawned a diverse product line, which stretches from electric guitars to stickers, and she shows no sign of slowing down! Definitely one to count on a list of famous felines.
Monty is proof that love conquers all, and that external appearance is not the be all and end all. This beautiful little boy is full of love and affection but spent far too many years in a shelter because of a chromosomal abnormality which left him looking a little different.
He lacks a bone in his nose because of it, and this had given him a unique— yet exceptionally cute— face which has captured the hearts of the internet. Thankfully, Monty was adopted and now lives a happy life at his forever home in Denmark.
He has 183,000 Facebook followers, and 65,000 fans on Instagram, as well as putting his name and face to a brand of jewelry, clothing, handbags, and other accessories. All of the profits from these go to the refuge where he used to live. An inspiration to us all that happiness can always be found.
Another Guinness World Record holder here, Blackie was the recipient of a very generous owner. In 1988, a man named Ben Rea died in the UK. As he was a millionaire antique dealer, he left behind a fortune which was around £7 million or $12.5 million US dollars—and the whole thing went to Blackie. A known recluse, Rea refused to recognize his family in the will instead leaving the money to three cat charities, household staff, and his beloved cat, the last survivor of the twelve he had shared his mansion with.
Imagine the number of treats and catnip you could get for that sort of cash. We hope Blackie had the right people to advise him on spending his wealth!
Another Disney celeb here, but we couldn’t write this list without including a proper lady. Marie is one of the stars of the 1970 film ‘The Aristocats.’ A purebred Turkish Angora kitten, she is instantly recognizable by her long, luxurious white fur and pink feminine bow, which so perfectly sums up her personality .
She spends most of her early life trying to mimic her mother, Duchess, in her elegance and ladylike behaviour but also has a curious and adventurous side which is brought out by her brothers, and by Thomas O’Malley, the smooth-talking streetwise feline who is the male protagonist of the film. Marie is often the most recognized of the ‘Aristocats,’ and shows that adventure and bravery can happen even in the face of adversity.
“Ladies don’t start fights, but they can finish them.” – Marie
This is a cat who should be far more famous than he is, so we included him in this list to boost his profile (you’re welcome.) White Pangur is the star of a 9th-century poem written in Old Irish at or around Reichenau Abbey.
Composed by a monk, it is a tribute to his beloved pet and describes the ways in which the cat hunts and plays, and the similarities to the monks own behavior. It is a beautiful recording of the pleasure and value of simple tasks.
The monk describes how, “So in peace our task we ply,/ Pangur Ban, my cat and I; / In our arts we find our bliss, / I have mine and he has his.” This may not be the story of the wealthiest cat, or the one with the largest social media following, but it is a heartwarming tribute from one man to his precious pet, and that is certainly something to celebrate.
While some cats have the luxury of lounging about and enjoying a peaceful, pampered life, others have important jobs to do. For Larry, this is a matter of national security. He is gainfully employed by Downing Street as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, a job he takes very seriously.
This little brown and white tabby was adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats home in 2011 entering his official office that same year. He earned his stripes by making his first public kill on the 29th August 2012 dropping the evidence onto the lawn of Downing Street to reassure the press.
This was seen by some as an attempt to subvert the ‘Lazy Larry’ reputation they had given him. He also denies rumors that he was almost fired in 2012 when he failed to spot a mouse located in the study of then Prime Minister, David Cameron.
As of 2018, Larry still lives happily at Number 10, sharing his duties with Freya, a female ‘friend’ with whom he is reported to enjoy cordial relations.
Scarlett’s story is one of unbelievable bravery and unconditional love. In 1996, Scarlett, a stray surviving on the tough streets of Brooklyn, was resting in an abandoned garage with her five kittens, when a fire started from unknown causes.
The New York City Fire Department were quick to respond and soon had the fire under control. That was when one of the firefighters, David Giannelli, became aware of Scarlett, who was carrying her kittens away from the garage one by one. She became severely burned during the process with blisters on her eyes, burned ears and paws, and a singed coat, but refused to let this stop her. Her bravery and the risk she has taken was remembered, and was even talked about in media at that time.
After saving the kittens, she was seen touching each with her nose to check they were all there, since the blisters impaired her vision, before collapsing.
Thankfully, she and four of her babies survived and were adopted to live out the rest of their lives in peace —a truly heartwarming and inspiring cat.
Another classic cat who has earned his stripes – literally— Bagpuss is a “saggy old cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams.” Despite this somewhat uninspiring description, he quickly became a household name and a staple of British television.
The format was simple with the main character being given the task of exploring and mending objects which his owner, Emily, found in her shop. Bagpuss and his friends would tell a story about the object before returning to sleep and before Emily came back. This formed the main basis of the episode. Amazingly, only 13 episodes of Bagpuss were ever made, which gives you some indication as to the impact this cloth kitty made! Nowadays, his pink and white stripes are instantly recognizable, and he enjoys his reputation as a fat contented cat.
Few cartoon cats are as well-known as Tom from Tom & Jerry. Created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom has stood the test of time going on to star in 14 feature-length films, nine long-running television series—one of which is still on the air, three television specials, numerous video games, a comic book series, and much more.
Tom & Jerry follows the comedic adventures of Tom, named Jasper initially, to catch the apparently uncatchable, a savvy mouse named Jerry. Throughout the series Tom gets hurt repeatedly, Jerry always wins, and slap-stick gags reign supreme—but not in our book. Tom, you’ll always be a winner to us!
While Bagpuss enjoyed describing stories and adventures, Mrs. Chippy actually lived them! This tiger-striped tabby was a key member of the crew of the Endurance, the team who accompanied Ernest Shackleton on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917.
Brought aboard by the carpenter and master shipwright Harry ‘Chippy’ McNish, the cat was so named because she was said to follow McNish around like an overly-attentive wife. It was discovered a month into the voyage that ‘Mrs’ Chippy was actually a he, but by then the name had stuck. His voyage was full of drama. On one occasion he is said to have leaped through the porthole, requiring the ship to be turned around, and the cat retrieved. Despite being in the water for ten minutes, Mrs. Chippy was miraculously unharmed.
His life ended in tragedy, a fact which McNish never forgave Shackleton for, and which he never quite got over. A true love story between man and cat.
For a return to lighter hearted topics, we cannot discuss famous cats without looking at a true Internet sensation. Technically not a cat, Nyan cat is an Internet meme uploaded to YouTube in 2011. Created and posted by 25-year-old Christopher Torres, Nyan Cat was influenced by his own pet cat Marley, who died in November 2012.
He got the idea for the animation during a blood drive donation for the Red Cross while drawing for his Livestream video chat. When two different people suggested he draw a ‘Pop Tart’ and a ‘Cat,’ he created the Pop-Tart-Cat hybrid which became Nyan Cat.
The video received over 146 million views on YouTube, made this cat famous and the legacy of this curious creature is still going strong.
If we are talking about famous badass cats to include in our selection, Sassy is an absolute must-have. A sarcastic Himalayan cat with a heart of gold, she is one of the three stars of the epic ‘Homeward Bound‘ series, the original movie of which involves three not-so-ordinary pets embarking on an epic cross-country quest to find their family.
Along the way, they face challenges and turmoil as their relationship is put to the test, but they ultimately emerge victorious against their enemies and are reunited with their much-loved family.
As the only cat, Sassy has a tough challenge, but her determination, strength, and loyalty to her canine companions and owner Hope make her an inspiring and beloved character.
Most commonly associated with Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ the Cheshire Cat is in actual fact a concept which predates the 1865 novel. The name of the character merely adopts an idea which was already established.
The ‘Alice’ character is easily one of the most recognized versions of the concept, and Cheshire is characterized by his long, peculiar conversations with her.
Typically, this cat disappears slowly, with the large grin being the last thing to go. In the novel, this prompts a discussion between the executioner and the Queen of Hearts about whether a disembodied head can be beheaded.
These questions, and the mysterious, philosophical nature of the cat as a whole, embody the curious demeanor of real-life cats. We will never truly understand their ninja ways.
“Most everyone’s mad here.” – Cheshire Cat
Time for another nautical cat to ride on the wave of their success! Another adventurer, Unsinkable Sam is the nickname of a World War II ship’s cat, who is also known as Oscar and is said to have survived the sinking of three ships.
The first, the Bismarck, where he was found floating on a board amongst the wreckage and picked up by the HMS Cossack, a British destroyer craft. This was when he received the name ‘Oscar,’ as his original name was obviously unknown.
He then served aboard the Cossack for the next few months, before the ship sank to the west of Gibraltar. Miraculously, Oscar survived this and was soon transferred to the HMS Ark Royal, an aircraft carrier.
Curiously enough, the ship had been involved in the destruction of the Bismarck. This ship was then destroyed in 1941 after being torpedoed. Oscar was found clinging to a floating plank, and was said to be “angry but quite unharmed.” He was then transferred to the offices of the Governor of Gibraltar before being returned to the UK, where he lived out the remainder of his days peacefully in Belfast. What a cat!
Speaking of heroic cats, we cannot compile a list of top kitties and exclude the star of the Halloween hit ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Thackery Binx is technically a human, but he performs his best duties while trapped in the body of a cat.
Cursed by the Sanderson sisters after trying to save his sister Emily from the grasp of the witches, Binx spends the rest of his days trying to prevent them from rising.
When they are resurrected by a group of teens years later, the fearless feline joins the fight to bring them down and prevent them from stealing the lives of all the children in Salem before finally banishing them for good. When his task is complete, his spirit is transformed back into the boy he was, and he is reunited with his little sister. In all honesty, everyone was a bit disappointed— cat-Binx was sassy, sarcastic, and super cute!
Probably the most famous comic book cat ever, Garfield sprang into existence in 1978 with the comic created by Jim Davis. The publications followed the stories of Garfield, the cat, along with John Arbuckle, and Odie—his human and dog respectively. He is unique in the fact that he still exists and thrives today on the internet with a site dedicated to preserving the past strip as well as containing games and an online store for Garfield merchandise.
The cute black and orange figure is distinctive, and his cheeky nature and ill-advised adventures have made him a character able to transcend time and emerge strong and popular as ever.
“I hate Mondays.” – Garfield
The Cat in the Hat
The brainchild of ‘Dr. Seuss,’ or Theodor Geisel to give him his full name, the Cat in the Hat is easily identified by his distinctive tall red-and-white striped hat and bright-red bowtie. He shows up at the house of Sally and her brother on a rainy day when their mother is away and proceeds to show off many of his tricks and games, despite the protests of the family fish.
He and his companions, Thing One and Thing Two, wreck the house much to the alarm of the children, who are worried about what their mother will say. Just in time, the Cat produces a machine which he uses to clean everything up and vanishes just before their mother comes home.
Sounds pretty typical of mischievous and badly behaved cats which we find in our homes every day if you ask me!
“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” – Cat in the Hat
Famous Cat Puss in Boots
Suave, sophisticated, and voiced by Antonio Banderas, there is nothing to dislike about Shrek’s favorite feline companion, and it seems only fitting that he should be our final pick. He would argue it is saving the best for last!
Inspired by the fairytale creation of the same name, Puss is a fugitive on the run from the law on a desperate quest to restore his lost honor. He joins Shrek and Donkey in Shrek 2 and onwards, as well as grabbing the starring role in his own movie, ‘Puss in Boots,’ a prequel to the Shrek adventures which fill in the backstory of Puss, including explaining how he came by his famous boots. The crafty cat also has a sneaky trick to help him defeat enemies and win over armies of fans by widening his eyes and mewing to appear sweet and innocent. He instantly wins over whoever is watching—sounds like one of our domestic pet cats!
“Fear me, if you dare!” – Puss in Boots
One of the most famous cats of the screen, Simba has certainly earned his place in this list. Made world-famous by Disney’s ‘The Lion King,’ this king of lions is an instantly recognizable figure, making further appearances in the sequel: ‘Lion King II: Simba’s Pride’ in 1998, and the upcoming live-action remake of the original film in 2019.
He begins as a young, innocent cub, and the original film follows his journey to maturity experiencing love and suffering loss along the way (not a dry eye, in the house.) That’s not his only claim to fame, however. Many people have compared Simba and his creation to names such as the Biblical Moses and Joseph, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet—pretty big stars to be associated with!
“I laugh in the face of danger.” – Simba
I know, the Lion King again, but there is no denying that Mufasa has earned his place in the ultimate cat hall of fame, so despite being from the same Disney film, we added him to our list as a bonus 26th famous cat.
The father of the before-mentioned Simba, the protagonist of the film, Mufasa broke hearts everywhere and gave Kleenex their largest profits in history with his tragic death at the hands of his treacherous brother Scar. (Note, this has not been confirmed by Kleenex, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.)
Heartbreakingly, Mufasa later appears to Simba during a time of confusion reminding him of his duty to his pride and his people and convincing him to return to reclaim the throne. The similarities between this and Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ may be well noted, but there is no denying that the death of strong, brave Mufasa earned more tears from fans.
“Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars… So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.” – Mufasa
Conclusion About Our Famous Cats
Cats as YouTube sensations. Cats of Instagram. Heroic real-life kitties performing the most amazing deeds. Everywhere you look, cats seem to be taking over in a furry purring mass. There is an as-yet-unconfirmed urban legend that cats make up 15 percent of the internet, and that is a statistic we wouldn’t be surprised if were proven true.
Revered and worshipped in Ancient Egypt, it appears that this is a trend which continues today through the elevation of their status to reality and social media stars. We have them as our Facebook friends, follow them on Instagram and Twitter, lose hours of our lives watching them on YouTube. We make memes and merchandise, movie stars and media sensations out of our feline friends, and given half the chance this list could be twice as long—or more likely go on forever. Here, however, we have compiled the top 25 in the business, the best of the best, the kings and queens of the feline world as it is probably best to keep them placated. You never know what they could be plotting…