It’s not really a surprise to anyone that as a parent I clock a lot of hours watching children’s cartoons. As my kids get older and I have more exposure to cartoons I have come to the unsettling conclusion that creators of children focused media content must hate cats. I would like to vocalize my distaste for the villainization of felines within the cartoon world. When you put it all together, the portrayal of cats as miscreants is overwhelming.
Cats are psychopaths
Si and Am from Lady and The Tramp are like a cartoon preamble to Natural Born Killers Mickey and Mallory. Okay maybe that’s a slight overstatement, however they sing a song about their plot to steal milk from, and presumably suffocate, a newborn baby. They are greater antagonists to this story than the dog catchers, cause at least the dog catchers are doing their jobs, whereas Si and Am focus on mass chaos and destruction for their own personal amusement.
Cats are bent on domination
Cats are portrayed as motivated creatures who will stop at nothing to get what they want. In Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung betrays his master, Shi Fu, because the need for power outweighs the good in his heart. Shere Khan terrorizes the world of Jungle Book because of his hatred of man and in turn protagonist Mowgli, leaving Baloo and resident wet blanket “cat” Bagheera impotent to protect him. Scar betrays his Lion King family in his quest for the crown and forms an unfavourable partnership with a group of hyenas that jeopardises the prosperity of their kingdom.
Or at least sidekicks to those Seeking Domination
Cats are the side kick of choice to a supervillain in need. In Inspector Gadget, Dr. Claw had Mad Cat, in He-Man Skeletor fought battles atop his trusty cat Panthor and even The Smurfs bad guy loser wizard Gargamel had his cat Azrael.
Cats are spoiled sissies
In Disney’s cartoon version of Robin hood, Prince John is an indulgent, pampered tyrant who keeps his royal subjects in the poor house. When things get tough he relieves his tension by sucking his thumb like a baby, so he’s a joke – If Game of Thrones character King Joffrey has a Disney spirit animal it would be Prince John. Cinderella serves four masters in her house, her wicked stepmother, her cruel stepsisters and a big fat pampered cat named Lucifer (who is even named after the devil). In the land of cartoons even the good cats are portrayed as wimps. He-Man’s cat Cringer is so fearful that he’s constantly on the brink of a nervous breakdown, unless he is possessed by the Power of Greyskull and becomes Battle Cat.
Cats are crazy
Maybe everyone is a little bit mad in Wonderland, but the Cheshire Cat is more than a few pickles short of a jar. In the world of reality, Alice’s cat Dinah (bizzaro Cheshire cat) watches his master, Alice, fall down the rabbit hole with minimal effort to save her. Dinah is no Lassie. Madder than Wonderland’s portrayal of cats is the way that cartoon sees the Hyena (yes they are cats, not dogs – I checked), stark, raving, mad lunatics, as portrayed by the hyena clan in The Lion King.
I am aware that there are some outliers here and movies exist that focus on feline heroes. What’s the cat equivalent for “Every dog has his day”?