Long before our daily news consumption included streaming live kittens 24-7 and Grumpy Cat became the Gwyneth of the celebrity feline world, we were fed bits and bobs of adorable cats in film and television. Feline film stars have populated the big and small screen for decades, popping up in both live action and animated form. Cartoons like “Garfield” popularized the image of the fat ginger cat feeding life lessons to his goofy human. Beverly Cleary’s “Socks” remains a children’s classic (the Clintons named their cat after the popular character). Read on to find out about some of your favorite famous felines!
The Avant Garde Feline
The “Private Life of a Cat,” a gorgeous black and white film by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, documents the story of two felines in love. Shot in 1947 during New York’s Avant Garde art scene, this film is irrefutable evidence that cats have always been fascinating to watch. The film follows the beginnings of a new cat family, including the birth and early days of a litter of kittens.
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Anthropomorphized Cartoon Cats
As devoted humans, we hope and pray that our cats’ disdainful glances really mean they love us, not that they’re plotting our death. The anthropomorphism of cats in film would suggest the same. The cartoon cat is as ubiquitous as their cartoon human counterparts, winning our hearts in films such as ‘The Lion King,’ ‘The Cat In The Hat’ and ‘Puss n’ Boots.’ The more recent ‘The Secret Lives of Cats and Dogs’ celebrates the amusing difference between our beloved cats and their canine counterparts.
“Kedi,” a beautiful documentary set on the streets of Istanbul, follows the lives of seven distinctly different cats. While feral cats are often left to fend for themselves in many cultures, the residents of Istanbul celebrate the spirited felines that roam their streets. They are fed, welcomed into shops and even taken to the vet. Famous for his lounge-worthy photo-op and to the streets of Ziverbey, Turkey, Tombili, who passed away last August, has been commemorated by a sculpture imitating his leisurely pose.
“Grey Gardens”, a cult film and cautionary tale for single ladies everywhere, documents the lives of Big Edie (Edith Bouvier Beale) and her daughter, Little Edie (Edith Beale). While documentarians, Albert and David Mayles, were initially sent by the Beale’s cousin, Lee Radziwill, to make a documentary about her childhood home in East Hampton, the filmmakers quickly shifted focus upon meeting the two women. The Beales’ derelict living conditions included no running water and a constant stream of visitors, including feral cats and raccoons. Following the attention from the film, Jacqueline Onassis and Lee Radziwill provided the funds to restore their cousins’ run-down manse.
From Rags to Kitty Riches – The Lil’ Bub Christmas Movie
The internet has changed the feline fame world entirely. A real-life story of cat imitating art is that of Lil’ Bub. The runt of her feral litter, Lil Bub was discovered in a tool shed in rural Indiana. Since her humble beginnings, Bub has gone on to star in her own Christmas movie, host her own show (she recently interviewed Ryan Adams – no really, she did), publish a best-selling book and raise major awareness and funds for special needs animals with the ASPCA’s Lil Bubs Big Funds.
Cats are a huge part of our culture, as well as our beloved family members, so you can be sure that Hollywood will continue to churn out new feline-centric content. And as for the internet, well, most people’s Facebook feeds are chock-a-block full of adorable cat and kitten videos. Studies show that these videos make us happier and less stressed. Either way, their presence is a daily reminder to take time for naps, enjoy seven or eight good meals a day and that it’s okay to let your freak flag fly whenever you feel like it.