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Cartoon Cats: Fun Facts About Our Favorite Animated Felines

Cats are full of personality and provide constant amusement. It makes perfect sense, then, that they’ve inspired many an iconic cartoon character. For practically as long as cartoons have been around, cats have been a part of them, and these fictional felines are usually full of curiosity and mischief — just like our real-life kitties! Here’s a look at some of our favorite cartoon cats, from Felix to Puss in Boots.

The original cartoon cat: Felix

Felix the Cat is over 100 years old, but he remains forever young. First introduced in 1919, during the silent film era, Felix was one of the very first cartoon characters to become famous. The grinning, googly-eyed little tuxedo cat is instantly recognizable, and his antics have delighted many generations of fans.

Felix the Cat
Felix the Cat@thetomheintjes/Instagrm

Surprisingly, there’s been much debate over who actually created Felix. While producer Pat Sullivan‘s name is on all the cartoons, Otto Messmer was the artist who animated him, and today most people say Messmer is the true father of Felix. One thing that hasn’t been questioned? Felix is an icon, and the standard against which all cartoon cats since have been judged.

Felix The Cat balloon is seen at the 90th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24, 2016 in New York City
Felix the Cat at the 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2016 Getty

The most hapless cartoon cat: Tom

The first of many legendary cartoon series created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (who would go on to create The Flintstones, The Jetsons and many more popular shows once they formed their own animation studio, Hanna-Barbera, in 1957), Tom and Jerry debuted in 1940 as a series of MGM short films, and has remained exemplary of the age-old game of cat-and-mouse ever since.

A poster for Joseph Barbera and William Hanna's 1950 cartoon 'The Framed Cat'
Poster for a 1950 Tom and Jerry cartoonGetty

The typical Tom and Jerry cartoon centers on Tom, a gray tuxedo cat, as he attempts to catch Jerry the mouse. While Tom may be quick on his paws, Jerry’s wit is even quicker, and he always manages to escape. Tom and Jerry is known for its goofy violence, and inspired the even more over-the-top show-within-a-show Itchy & Scratchy in The Simpsons.

Joseph Barbera with Tom in 2005
Joseph Barbera with Tom in 2005Getty

The silliest cartoon cat: Sylvester

“I tawt I taw a puddy tat!” Sylvester, the red-nosed tuxedo cat, and Tweety, the little yellow bird he antagonizes, are one of the best-loved Looney Tunes duos. Created by cartoonist Friz Freleng, Sylvester made his debut in 1945, and has been a legend ever since.

Sylvester the cat
Sylvester the Cat@looneytunes/Instagram

Sylvester, whose full name is the very regal Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr., holds the distinction of having the most Academy Awards of any Looney Tunes character. That’s right: In the ’40s and ’50s, three shorts starring the funny feline won Oscars!

Sylvester the cat
Sylvester in action@chuckjonesgalleries/Instagram

The most fed up cartoon cat: Mr. Jinks

Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks was another Hanna-Barbera cat-and-mouse creation. From 1958 to 1961, the slapstick cartoons were part of The Huckleberry Hound Show, and they followed a formula similar to Tom and Jerry (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?). Unlike the earlier cartoon cat, Mr. Jinks had not one but two mouse adversaries, Pixie and Dixie.

Pixe and Dixie and Mr. Jinks
Pixe and Dixie and Mr. Jinks@toycollectorphotographs/Instagram

Mr. Jinks, an orange cat with a blue bowtie, became known for his grammatically incorrect catchphrase, “I hate you meeces to pieces!” While he may not be as well-known as some of the other Hanna-Barbera cartoon cats, Mr. Jinks remains an amusing example of the constantly foiled feline.

The most street smart cartoon cat: Top Cat

Top Cat was created by Hanna-Barbera in 1961. While his show only ran one season, he remains a beloved cartoon kitty thanks to his street smart persona and creative array of get-rich-quick schemes.

Top Cat
Top Cat@toon_raider_official/Instagram

Top Cat is the leader of a gang of New York alley cats, and he cuts an unforgettable figure with his yellow fur and snazzy purple vest and fedora. While Top Cat was popular with kids, the series aired during prime time, and the wisecracking, constantly scheming feline was heavily inspired by comedian Phil SilversSergeant Bilko character, which gave him a broad appeal to midcentury viewers of all ages.

The most elegant cartoon cat: Marie

The 1970 Disney movie The Aristocats brought an adorable array of cartoon cats into the spotlight, but Marie is the character who stole most viewers’ hearts. Unlike the other cats on this list, Marie is a lady — and she won’t let you forget it!

Marie the cat from 'The Aristocats' 1970
Marie the Cat@vintagemybeloved/Instagram

Marie is a charming little gray-and-white ball of fluff from a posh Parisian family. When she winds up among the alley cats, she’s quick to differentiate herself as the fanciest cat of all, and she wears pink bows on her neck and head that complement her little pink nose and ears. She even has long eyelashes and purplish eyelids (hey, wait a minute — is this cat wearing makeup?). No wonder she was named after Marie Antoinette!

The laziest cartoon cat: Garfield

Garfield debuted as a newspaper comic strip in 1978, and quickly rose to the cartoon cat pantheon. Created by cartoonist Jim Davis, who grew up with cats and noticed a distinct lack of felines in the funny pages, Garfield became a household name in the ’80s as he got his own cartoon TV show and started appearing on all kinds of merchandise.

Garfield
Garfield@garfield/Instagram

Garfield is a fat, lazy orange cat who hates Mondays and loves eating lasagna and annoying his owner. Garfield’s sarcasm makes him one of the most relatable cartoon cats, and as his creator described it, “Basically, Garfield is a human in a cat suit.”

Jim Davis with one of his Garfield drawings in 1998
Jim Davis with one of his Garfield drawings in 1998Getty

The most swashbuckling cartoon cat: Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots was introduced in the 2004 animated film Shrek 2, and became a fan favorite who got his own spinoff movies. While Puss in Boots is computer-animated, and not hand-drawn like the other cartoon cats on our list, he secured his place thanks to his suave, swashbuckling persona.

Puss in Boots
Puss in Boots@pussinboots/Instagram

Voiced by the eternally charming Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and loosely based on the classic fairytale of the same name, Puss in Boots is adventurous and confident. He knows his way around a sword fight and looks quite dashing with his hat, cape and boots, but like many cats, he’s also not afraid to widen his eyes and lay on the cuteness to get what he wants.

Antonio Banderas at the premiere of 'Puss in Boots' in 2011
Antonio Banderas at the premiere of Puss in Boots in 2011Getty

Read on for more about cats!

Why Does My Cat Follow Me Everywhere? A Pet Pro Explains the Adorable Reasons

Why Do Cats Have White Paws? Vets Weigh in on the Fascinating Science of Cat Colors

Do Cats Dream? Vet Reveals What Really Goes On In Feline Heads While They Sleep

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