Cats get a bad rep.
While cat and dog owners can cite a truckload of quirks on both ends of the spectrum, when both species are featured in fiction, you are far more likely to find an outright cruel, nasty, and otherwise vicious cat character. Both sets of animals will have vices, but a dog is more likely to do harm unintentionally. A cat enjoys causing trouble. Parts of this have to do with traditional traits that even cat lovers admire — independence and pride for some equals lack of love for the owners and aloofness for others. As a result, many writers who like cats, such as Terry Pratchett and Paul Gallico, play into the trope by presenting their pet as something of a Magnificent Bastard, expertly manipulating humans.
It certainly doesn't help considering highly marketable, small creatures are typically the kind of things cats see as prey. Dogs aren't exempt from this behavior in real life, but you'll rarely see them trying to actively catch anything on their own terms if they're not a hunting dog working for their master. Since mice (and birds) are often depicted as being intelligent, the express desire to eat them becomes a type of cannibalismand is therefore evil. Protagonist cats rarely eat mice (rats, maybe, and only if they're eeevil rats). Notably, the real threat that mice present, their ability to overpopulate, consume stores, and carry dangerous parasites, and the original reason we bred cats in the first place, is seldom mentioned in fiction. Nor is the fact that a whole category of dogs, terriers, also kill small, cute rodents.
Domestic dogs are rarely portrayed as evil unless the setting specifically only features dogs and antagonists are needed. A negative portrayal of dogs is usually light, treating them as simply dumb and servile (and fiercely territorial); the occasional evil tear-'em-to-pieces junkyard dog or Hellhound is an exception. When they are genuinely annoying, this characteristic is given to stereotypical small yappy breeds that reflect their owners. In real life, it says more about a dog's training.
Much of this no doubt descends from Medieval European folklore associating cats with witches and other forces of evil. (At the same pyres witches were burned, cats were burned too.) At the same time, there is a grain of truth to this. "A deadly game of cat and mouse" is often a very real situation; cats not taught to hunt properly by their mothers often appear to clumsily toy with their prey before killing it, and even veteran mousers will play with their quarry before killing and consuming them, in order to avoid being bitten, since the saying is correct that "even a cornered mouse will snap at a cat" (but only when the mouse is aware of the cat; meanwhile, a cat that ambushes a mouse by surprise will kill it instantly, which is why cats are experts at hunting by stealth and secrecy). Cats are also among the few predators known to hunt and kill for fun, even when they're not going to eat the prey (though given that among the other animals known to do this are humans, we don't really have much room to give cats grief about it).
It should also be noted that the overwhelming predominance of this trope in Western Animation is largely due to one simple fact that proves how astonishing the man's influence really was: Walt Disney was a dog person.
That said, it should come as no surprise that the Right-Hand Cat is the Diabolical Mastermind's most popular pet of choice. Could also be the reason that All Witches Have Cats; an evil witch should have a mean Familiar.
In Real Life, only some cats are truly mean (and those that are usually are from lack of training, from being left intact and in situations given to fighting, or due to individual personality or even mental illness). The best way to avert this trope is to make sure kittens have plenty of time to socialize as early as possible with humans and with other animals and that spaying/neutering is done as soon as it is safe. Also, if you wish to prevent a fight-prone environment with multiple cats, you should try to either get two neutered males or one neutered male and one spayed female. Intact males will fight to the death especially if a female is around, and even spayed females tend toward territorial fighting, while two neutered males or a neutered male and spayed female generally don't have territorial fighting issues.
Additionally, many anthropologists theorize that cats, strictly speaking, were never actually domesticated, at least not in the more direct manner that dogs were. Historical evidence of cats living with humans first started appearing around 7500 BC or so, a time when humans were just beginning to practice large-scale agriculture. Large quantities of stored grain would attract rodents, and cats, the natural predators of rodents, followed them. By this theory, humans never deliberately brought cats into their world to serve a purpose the way they did with dogs; cats came of their own accord, and simply settled into a mutually-beneficial relationship with humans. As a consequence, cat behavior seems more independent and aloof by human standards, because on some level they're still wild creatures, and don't consider themselves "belonging" to humans.
Contrast Cute Kitten (though it can go hand-in-hand with this when Cute Is Evil), but, generally, CutenessEquals Goodness, so this trope is mostly Played for Laughs with the evil being barely above Poke thePoodle level.
Note that when cats just are not mean in some case, that's not a subversion.
Compare Dogs Are Dumb and Killer Rabbit. Overlaps with Cats Are Superior, especially when Dumb Is Good. May also, in some cases, lead to Cats Are Snarkers. Not to be confused withCATS.
Beers from the 2013 Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods Movie. He is the God of Destruction, and all off the Kais fear him, even Shenlong. Not to mention, he has a really bad temper and tried to destroy Earth just because Buu wouldn't let him have 1 or 2 Pudding cups. Not to mention, he is the strongest villain in DBZ history. Except for his master, Whis, who is stronger than he is. He also reduced King Kai's planet to its current Fun Size after King Kai beat him in a videogame.
Kamineko, that cat who keeps attacking Sakaki in Azumanga Daioh. In the cat's defense, Sakaki seems to have an aura that makes cats hate her, with one exception; Mayaa is the antithesis of this trope: a wild-born Iriomote cat who not only is the first cat to permit Sakaki to pet it, but, at first meeting, actively seeks her affection, proving utterly devoted to Sakaki. To drive home this point, Mayaa later drives off Kamineko and a small horde of cats in her defense.
The fact that Kamineko gathered up the cats just to attack Sakaki and Chiyo-Chan seems to point to the conclusion that it was just a jerk.
Furthermore, in the last episode, when Sakaki apologizes to it for trying to pet it all the time without taking its feelings into account, it walks up to Sakaki, allows her to move her hand toward its head as though to let her pet it... then bites her without any warning.
"Cat Soup" The cat siblings beat the pig who rescues them from a flood senseless. This is AFTER they had already taken pieces of the same to feed themselves. In the original TV show, they seemed to have been taught to hate the pigs, so it doubles as a form of Fantastic Racism.
IGPX Immortal Grand Prix features a cat with whom one of the human characters has a technologically available mental link. Though the cat is opinionated and realistically cat-like (okay, he does have an attitude), he is neither a villain nor a hero in most instances.
Totsuzen! Neko No Kuni Banipal Witt (aka Catnapped!) takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphic cats. Two children are brought there by the cats to save them from the boy's kidnapped dog, Papadoll. Exposure to the cat world's sun has turned the dog into a rampaging monster being used as a weapon by Princess Buburina to take over the entire cat realm.
But really only Buburina and Doh-doh (sort of) are bad.
Puchi Puri Yuuchi (aka Petite Princess Yucie) has an episode where Glennda, princess of the Demon Realm, has to fight Cait Sith, an evil cat attacking her realm and turning everyone there into cats.
The Cait Sith (fairy cat) is a Celtic mythological character, and is generally regarded as at least untrustworthy if not outright evil, so this appears to be a Japanese interpretation of a legend from the other side of the world.
In Digimon Adventure, Tailmon/Gatomon was originally introduced as the Big Bad's Right-Hand Cat, beating the shit out of all seven of the protagonists' Digimon with little effort in their first encounter and mercilessly hunting down the eighth Chosen. Of course, she then turned out to have a Freudian Excuse, did a Heel-Face Turn, became the partner of Hikari Yagami/Kari Kamiya (whom she found she simply couldn't kill when they first met), and became decidedly...not mean.
Not to mention the Kamiya/Yagami family's pet cat Miko. In the original movie, little Tai makes the mistake of defending Koromon for eating Miko's food, which results in rather nasty-looking scratches for boy and Digimon.
Even Pokémon is in on this. Meowth is famous for being the third member of the Team Rocket Trio, Giovanni is regularly seen with a Persian by his side, and a recent episode showed a member of Team Galactic in possession of an especially mean Purugly.
Meowth's backstory has him trying to impress a female Meowth he was in love with by, over a period of months, painstakingly learning how to walk on two legs and speak a human language. She rejects him, calling him a freak and saying that he still has no money. Even later, when he fought a Persian for her (and won!), she still thought he was a freak and chose the Persian over him.
Said Persian may or may not count. While he did try to force Meowth to rejoin his gang, he took the female Meowth in when her owner abandoned her and, prior to all this, gave Meowth a fish when he was so hungry he thought baseballs were food.
"Mean" might be the wrong word to describe Tyson's Meowth, but it's clearly tough. How tough? Tyson is one of the select few trainers who can defeat Ash in a Pokémon battle, Meowth is his ace, and it could stand up to Ash's Pikachu and win. That tough. Not to mention that it had a Thunderbolt attack that was almost as strong as Pikachu's, despite the fact that it was not an Electric Pokémon and Pikachu was. (Traditionally, a Pokémon is much better using a move that matches its Type than a Pokémon that does not.)
Mewtwo was rather nasty for a while during Pokémon: The First Movie. He tried to cause The End of the World as We Know It. Mewtwo was more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist, though. He simply felt clones were being oppressed and wanted to start war against the natural-born Pokémon. Likewise, Mew (Yes, Mew) was just as bad since (in the Japanese version) it believed that Mewtwo was inferior and shouldn't be allowed to live just because he was a clone. Neither are evil, though, just very stubborn in their beliefs. The dub alters the two to represent a more Black and White Morality, with Mewtwo being more knowingly malicious and Mew's motives being more benevolent.
Shampoo's transformation shape in Ranma ˝ is a cat, and she uses that to her advantage several times.
Others have also used Shampoo's transformation to their advantage — namely, as an easy way to torment Ranma. Genma uses her to frighten Ranma so he can't beat the old bastard up in the first Nekoken story. Akane uses Shampoo's transformation to force Ranma into agreeing to throw his second official duel with Mousse in the manga...and in an anime-exclusive OAV, she splashes Shampoo so that Ranma will run headfirst into a wall with her because Shampoo mockingly pointed out that Akane didn't have the skills to face the OAV's Villain of the Week.
Due to her past experience of being toyed around by a cat and having watched too many 'dog' detective TV series (whereas a cat is often the villain), in the words of Shinkuu, "Cats are enemies of all Rozen Maiden!"
Arthur from Code Geass creates a running joke by always making trouble for Suzaku, usually by biting him and nobody else. Interestingly, though, Arthur actually seems to like Suzaku; the official website for the second season says that he bites out of love, Arthur once attacked an enemy combatant whose gun was pointed at Suzaku, and in the final episode, we get a brief scene of Arthur patiently watching over Suzaku's grave. Aww.
Arthur also makes trouble for Lelouch by unwittingly making off with his Zero mask.
Neko-Zero takes offense to the implication that he would ever do anything unwittingly!
Used in Outlaw Star: The Pirate girl with two cats tries to kill the crew after unknowingly befriending their young second-in-command.
The universe's local catlike humanoid aliens, the Ctarl-Ctarl, are typified as egomaniacal, violent jerks.
Stray Cat, a stray cat from Part 4. It was treated rather fairly, though, since Stray Cat never attacked anybody who wasn't already trying to hurt it, and even gets a happy ending when it's adopted by one of the heroes. Did I mention that it's a cat who died, then became a plant-cat hybrid due to its Stand powers?
Also from Part 4, serial killer Yoshikage Kira's Stand, Killer Queen, looks like a bizarre humanoid cat. The Stand's appearance might be a reflection of Kira's predatory nature.
In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Gokudera's animal box weapon, a wild cat named Uri, is shown to have a horrible temper, constantly scratching and biting him.
Sailor Moon has an episode where Luna, a talking cat, is menaced by a horde of non-talking cats. A big fat cat saves her and develops a crush on her, but from there, things get complicated; the other non-talking cats are clearly jerkoffs, though.
Shingo, Usagi's young brother, was bitten by a cat when he was just a baby, giving him a phobia of them until Luna comes along. Even after he gets over his fear, they're still far from his favorite animal.
Then there is Tin Nyanko, who, despite being a member of an evil organization, seems to really relish in being bad. It's kind of funny, since she is half healed and has a split personality.
Almost EVERY SINGLE CAT in Nyan Koi! is like this.
Hayate the Combat Butler's Tama and Shiranui play this well and are particularly antagonistic towards the main character. Though they do show occasional benevolent sides, they like to be played for their mean side.
Tama gets a bit of a pass as he's a white tiger.
But Nagi calls him a kitten, even arguing with Hayate about it.
And Isumi's great grandmother uses cats in her first appearance when she's a villain after Hayate. Afterwords, she becomes an ally and doesn't seem to use cats anymore.
New Voices In The Dark: Souichi's sister adopts a wandering young cat, which unfortunately catches Souichi's interests. When Souichi gets blamed for harassing the cat, he vows revenge by placing a curse on Colin (as the cat was named). In the beginning a sweet, playful kitty cat, Colin became steadily more violent and uglyuntil...
One of the better filler arcs in InuYasha has Panther demons as antagonists to the group of heroes. What makes it funny is that the leader of their tribes butted heads with Inuyasha and Seshomaru's father, who is a dog demon. So it's literally cats vs dogs.
Hamtaro: "Watch out for those cats, you know they're smarter than you think/But when we work together, we can make their plans sink!"
In Go Lion/Voltron, Jaga The Blue Cat is an able and wicked familiar for Honerva/Haggar, likely blinding Shirogane/Sven before he was killed/disabled. Add to that, the Space Mice are definitely justified in fearing being devoured by this monster, who came from a world where it was bathed in Human blood. On the minus side, any sighting of the Blue Cat told the force that something was up, so its ability to spy (ala Laserbeak) was later limited.
In Apocalypse Meow, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army are portrayed as cats, while the American soldiers are portrayed as rabbits.
In Kodomo no Jikan, Kuro is often drawn with cat ears or as an humanoid black cat. Kuro is a YandereSchoolgirl Lesbian who has kicked her 23 year old teacher in the nuts at least 30 times because her crush (Rin, her best friend) has a thing for him.
Go Go Itsutsugo Land! features a grumpy cat who often indirectly causes trouble for the characters.
Somewhat Justified in one of the short stories of the horror anthology, "Zekkyou Gakkyuu" (Screaming Lessons), "Black Cat Saya". The typical always teenage female Victim of The Week, Ayako, adopts an abandoned adorable black kitten and names it Saya, where he becomes a beloved part of the family. When Ayako's parents decide to visit granny in the hospital, they leave her under the care of one of her relatives while they are gone. The next day, Ayako finds Saya gone and her collar discarded, with her suddenly returned parents telling her that Saya ran outside. Ayako immediately suspects something wrong with her mother, who coldly insults her when she offers her her morning cup of coffee. Then, when she gets to school, she finds the food in her bento [[Squick covered in black fur]]. Her terror finally reaches its peak when she awakens from noises downstairs and finds her mother with slitted pupils scratching at the walls with her fingernails. When she tries to escape out the house the next morning, her imposter mother drags her back inside, and when she tries to call her real mother at Granny's she finds the telephone line has been cut off with the shadow of her fake-mother standing right behind her. The cat's out of the bag when Ayako's fake mother is actually revealed to be the spirit of Saya, wanting revenge on Ayako when a month earlier it got struck by her family's car and left on the street paralyzed and suffering horrific pain while forced to watch itself get run over by the next oncoming vehicle because Ayako convinced her parents to keep driving and abandon the dying cat. The cat's spirit switches places with Ayako, forcing her to endure the torment it did when it got run over, until Ayako wakes up from her nightmare and finds herself in the hospital, having fainted inside the house, and being taken back home. Except it was really a Hope Spot and the real Ayako did die in the body of Saya, with the cat taking Ayako's place and burying the dead body of her cat in the yard (revealed in the last panel to be the body of Ayako)
In the manga "Cerberus", one of the Kuzure (malevolent animal spirits that take the form of demonic creatures that feed on human souls) is a two tailed cat monster (or nekomata) who tried to find the current Gravekeeper (the protagonist sharing his body with a Hellhound tasked with subduing Kuzure), assuming that he was too weak to put up a fight. He gets his two-tailed butt kicked by the Shrine head Yoyo, who swings it around with its own tails, outpaces it in speed, and seals it with a three-bar seal, smashing its head into the ground InuYasha style.
Ratso Catso from Wowser practically defines this trope, in ways that would actually make Garfield proud.
Art Spiegelman's comic Maus, a narrative of the author's father's struggle to survive the Holocaust wherein the Nazis are drawn as cats and Jews as mice.
But that's justified in that the other cat stereotype is that they hunt mice, and it makes a good analogy for the Holocaust.
More than that, there is an artistic point. Nazi propaganda films drew analogies between Jews and rats. Spiegelman depicts the Jews as mice — who are typically portrayed as cute and sympathetic in fiction — rather than rats — typically villainous and revolting. By doing so, he is able to show how weak and manipulative the propaganda was (in one edition, he even cites an excert of a Nazi-era German newspaper lambasting Mickey Mouse).
Averted in Blacksad by the eponymous main character. He can be a bit 'slow to warm' but he's a very nice guy.
A Dream of A Thousand Cats from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman certainly belongs on this list. The alternate world involves cats being free to hunt and eat humans whenever the mood takes them.
And completely reversed in the same author's story 'The Price', where a heroic, perhaps supernatural cat protects a family each night from the Devil himself (though the Bolivian Army Ending suggests that, eventually, the task will kill him, sooner rather than later, and leave the family helpless).
In the Justice League's "International" days, team member Power Girl kept a mangy, ill-tempered tabby that lived seemingly just to make life hell for everyone on the team: tearing up the team's base, sleeping on The Flash's head, trying to eat Blue Jay...
Said yellow tabby has returned in the most recent Power Girl series.
The Red Lanterns, a version of the Green Lantern Corps powered by anger. They have a blue house cat as their most sadistic and malicious member (Word of God right there). Not an alien cat. A totally normal cat. From Brooklyn. Apparently possessed of an incredible amount of Brooklyn Rage! (But see also below under subversions.)
Michael (Jean-Michel in the original French) The Dragon in Dungeon The Early Years. When the readers are introduced to him, he's busy whipping a servant girl in order to force her into having sex with him.
In WE 3, the cat character is cold and uninterested in humans, and frequently wants to just run off. The loyal, but intelligent, Dog leader must continually pull rank to force him to stay.
The cat did end helping the dog, so at least the trope was partially subverted.
MAD did a kiddie show parody complete with a typical cartoon — eight panels of back-and-forth violence between a cat and mouse on an Itchy And Scratchy level. A kid in the audience expresses the lessons he's learned — that "cats are ugly and bad, and mice are cute and good, and mice always win in the end, and I'm going to bring a bunch of mice into my house, and I'm gonna kill Mom's Siamese cats, and..."
Another small panel had a situation where cats are used as guide-dogs for the blind. Said cat leaves the unwitting man on the ledge of a many-story building.
Roque Ja (or "Rock Jaw") from Bone may not be necessarily evil, but he is definitely not on the side of the protagonists.
For Disney animated movies, see the Western Animation folder below.
Soto in Ice Age for wanting to kill a human infant out of revenge for said baby's tribe killing half his pack for their skins. The surviving members of his pack count too, including Diego, before his Heel-Face Turn.
Shira from Ice Age: Continental Drift counts as well, at first.
In the An American Tail movies, all the cats (except Fievel's friend Tiger) are bad guys, looking to exploit and/or eat the heroic, downtrodden mice. The second movie included a good-natured dog, voiced by Jimmy Stewart.
This movie runs this into the ground as well. Every antagonist in the film is a cat, from the Cossacks at the beginning to the American gangsters at the end.
"For there are no cats in America / And the streets are paved with cheese!
There are no cats in America / So set your mind at ease!"
Kung Fu Panda: The villain is, of course, a cat (albeit the rare endangered snow leopard instead of, say, the tiger) while the hero is a cuddly panda, trained by a red panda and a seemingly harmless turtle. In addition, while none of the Furious Five are particularly sanguine toward Po at first, the one who is the most cruel, strict, and disapproving is...Tigress.
In the Don Bluth film The Secret of NIMH, cats aren't just mean, they're horror incarnate. This is unsurprising, given the purpose of the farm cat is to eat the rodents in the field, who happen to be the protagonists. What is weird, though, is that Dragon (the cat) is the only animal who doesn't ever say anything, and actually comes across as a big, dumb animal. Even the owl gets to speak (and is even more terrifying for it. Nothing like a creature big enough to be a freaking dragon, and wise to boot).
What is very interesting about this is that, in the scene where Mrs. Fitzgibbon is hanging out the laundry and Dragon is sleeping near the back step (a scene which takes more of an omniscient camera view than the first-person view of the mice), he doesn't come across nearly so horrifying. Part of this may be due to him being drugged at the time, but it also comes across as him seeming a normal cat here but a monster in all his other scenes because that is how a cat would look and sound to a mouse.
Played straight again in the sequel, to an extent, anyway. Troy and Muriel are more anthropomorphic and bumbling than Dragon, what's more, they have been experimented on by the Big Bad into doing his evil deeds. They ironically seem to be the only villains to meet their demise at the end of the film.
The only TRULY evil cat in the German-animated film Felidae is Pascal/Claudandus, who is the one behind the murders in the first place. Oh, and he killed a human too...
In the show within a show in Bolt, all cats are the servants of Dr. Calico and aren't just mean, they're downright villainous. The cats who play Dr Calico's pets are pretty mean outside set, enjoying taunting Bolt and exploiting his belief that the show is real for their own entertainment.
Subverted with Mittens (see below).
The Hungarian movie The Cat Trap presents the cats as international gangsters, while the mice run the police and the Secret Service/MI5 organization, complete with their own James Bond.
According to IMDB, it was translated as Cat City in English. Cat Trap is the literal translation.
The only feline character in the Hungarian movie The Cat Trap who subverts this trope is Cathy, the daughter of one of the villains' henchmen, who's actually friends with a mouse.
Played incredibly straight with the Cat Beast from 9. Not an actual cat, per se (more of a cybernetic steampunk jaguar-thing), but it's still modelled on a cat and is probably the most ruthless little bastard you'll find on this page.
Cats & Dogs rode this trope into the ground, with evil cats using a mouse army to take over the world, while the dogs are secret agents bent on saving it; this has apparently been the state of affairs for the entirety of human history, bordering on Always Chaotic Evil.
Subverted in the sequel, fortunately. It turns out that good cats do exist in the Cats & Dogs universe. Though the villain is still a cat...
Babe likewise features good-hearted dogs (even Rex turns out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold). Naturally, there is a scheming cat, although the story gives a suspiciously noticeable disclaimer that there are many perfectly nice cats in the world.
Babe does contain its share of unpleasant dogs. There's the dog who works for the sheep rustlers and the trio of stray dogs who attack the flock (admittedly, none of these dogs are given any kind of character and are portrayed more as mindless beasts, who are following orders/acting upon instinct). On top of which, even the motherly Fly has her dark side, and treats the sheep pretty coldly throughout the film. What makes Babe so effective as a "sheep pig" is that, unlike the dogs, he is willing to treat the sheep as his equals.
In Scary Movie II, a mean cat goes so far as to attack the heroine with a broken bottle.
The Incredible Shrinking Man: when Scott Carey shrinks to six inches and has to live in the dollhouse, guess what animal breaks his dollhouse apart and tries to eat him?
There was a movie called Nightwalkers where this trope was subverted: cats are the only ones who can sense and destroy the evil aliens/monsters and several cats heroically sacrifice themselves to save humans.
Ditto Stephen King's Sleepwalkers, assuming it's not the very same film.
The 2011 Korean horror film, "The Cat" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNBP7pi5WXE, MIGHT be an example of this. A murdered woman's cat, Bi-dan, is the only witness to her death. Of course, when the protagonist So-yeon takes it in her care, weird shit starts happening. She investigates the mystery when she finds her friend, who also recently got a cat, dies as well. Of course considering Asian horror's tendency for Shyamalan style twists, this may be subverted.
From MouseHunt, Catzilla is the pet of your nightmares. It's apparently unkillable (they tried gassing it twice in the animal shelter), permanently kept in a sealed container because it's so vicious and is portrayed as a Godzilla-like monster from the mouse's perspective.
The Icelandic Jólakötturinn, or Yule Cat, is described as a horrible creature that eats children with no new clothes for Christmas.
As seen on a placard or two — "Cats were once worshipped as Gods by the Egyptians. They have not forgotten this."
There was the Medieval-born legend that cats can kill a baby by sucking breath - which makes zero sense since a cat can't suck, full stop. Cats can't fully close their lips to suck like humans do, this is why they lap their water or milk.
Which, hilariously, means that newborn kittens would be the dangerous ones if the myth was true (they suckle from their mothers, a skill later lost, as with many mammals).
J. R. R. Tolkien personally liked cats (case in point: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil), but because of the mythological tropes that he consciously used, the only times they appear in The Lord of the Rings are as minions of evil forces — most notably, as Queen Berúthiel's feline spies. Sauron himself was even originally conceived as a "Prince of Cats", and the Eye of Sauron is described as "cat-like" a few times.
In The Book of Lost Tales, a Just So Story is provided to explain why cats are that way, after the defeat of Tevildo (the aforementioned Prince of Cats and precursor of Sauron):
Indeed afterward Melko heard all and he cursed Tevildo and his folk and banished them, nor have they since that day had lord or master or any friend, and their voices wail and screech for their hearts are very lonely and bitter and full of loss, yet there is only darkness within and no kindliness.
Tolkien's poem Cat from "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" suggests cats are that way because they have an ancestral memory of being wild lions and hunting humans, and resent being forced into tame domesticity.
Played straight with Greebo, Nanny Ogg's cat in Discworld. He is a nasty, foul-tempered force of nature who is king of Lancre's cat population (and father of most of it), and it's generally agreed that the only thing that can slow him down is a direct meteor strike (though Nanny thinks he's an adorable little kitten). This is a cat who once ate a vampire while it was in bat form.
The book Grumpy Old Men: A Manual For The British Malcontent contains a long, particularly surreal, and rambling rant about cats. An extract:
Here's a clue about cats: tigers. Are tigers bastards? Yes. And what are tigers? Just big cats. Therefore cats are tigers only smaller. Therefore they are bastards. Here's another clue. Lions. What do lions do? Lie around all day and then, when they're bored, jump a giraffe and eat it. Cats don't even do that. Ever see a cat jump a giraffe? No. Why? Because we've cossetted them and welcomed them into our homes and invented cat food, just for the idle bastards.
Ethan Frome contains a cat that symbolizes the unrelenting presence of Zeena, the eponymous character's oppressive and extremely unsympathetic hypochondriac wife. The cat instigates the symbolic 'shattering' of his marital stability when it breaks Zeena's treasured pickle dish.
And as if that novel wasn't depressing enough as it was.
You would expect that the book series Redwall would only obey this trope, since mice are about half the cast. Oddly enough, it doesn't. It is played straight with Gingivere's sister, Tzarmina, that book's Big Bad (she kills their father and frames Gingivere for it), and their uncle, Ungatt Trunn, is the villain in the book Lord Brocktree. It's about an even split.
Happens to the family cat after its "resurrection" in Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary. But even before, the main character doesn't want to neuter him, because he likes him "lean and mean", and thinks that cats are "gangsters of the animal world, living outside the law".
Pete the Barncat from Hank the Cowdog often teases and takes advantage of Hank and the other characters. Other cats aren't shown to be much better.
In George Orwell's Animal Farm, the farm cat is lazy, greedy, and self-serving (she's last seen 'helpfully' volunteering to teach the mice Animalism).
Since Watership Down has rabbits as its protagonists, the cats are indeed scary antagonists ("Can you run? I think not!"). Dogs (and foxes), by contrast, are just contemptible and disgusting. (The culture-hero El-ahrairah sets one up for a thorough Humiliation Conga.)
In the novel A Clockwork Orange, Alex is attacked by a bunch of furious cats when attempting to rob a woman's house.
But then, considering Alex is a Villain Protagonist, the cats could be considered heroic vigilantes.
The Paul Jennings short story Picked Bones features a nasty, horrible cat that scratches someone up so badly that they need '35 bandaids' and which tries to smother a grown man.
The novel Stuart Little plays this absolutely straight (in contrast to the film), with Snowball the cat attempting to trick the family into thinking Stuart has decided to act like a mouse instead of a human. Later, he convinces an alleycat friend of his to try and kill Stuart's love interest, Margot the sparrow. Book Snowball is actually quite the Card-Carrying Villain.
KROOK: Hi! show 'em how you scratch. Hi! Tear, my lady!
In the Known Space universe, the Kzinti as a whole aren't exactly known as being gently pacifistic, what with starting a bunch of wars with various species — in particular, humanity. On the other hand, individual Kzin can be more heroic, or at least less frightening and outwardly 'evil', such as Speaker To Animals, especially after they get their asses handed to them by humanity and lose the war.
Wars. The humans by the time of the main Known Space series are no longer seriously worried about the Kzinti, because "the Kziniti always attack before they're ready." This turns out to be a major plot point in the Ringworld series. Of course, Kzinti aren't literally cats, but they're described as evolved from felinoid predators something like Earthly plains cats.
A glass cat is a Brown Note in Cat In Glass by Nancy Etchemendy.
Mogget in the Old Kingdom series takes this to epic Deadpan Snarker heights. And that's with his collar on; without it, you should probably start running. Fast. Of course, Mogget only looks like a cat, but there was probably a reason for picking that shape.
The Jungle Book gives us both Shere Khan and Bagheera. The former, a tiger, is a major villain who hates humans with a passion and vows to someday kill Mowgli. Averted because Bagheera (a black panther) is definitely one of the Good Guys, and it's implied that Shere Khan is evil and happens to be a tiger as opposed to being evil because he's a tiger.
Later in the series, though, we see Dolores Umbridge's fluffy cat Patronus, which is undeniably evil simply because SHE is evil. She has also owns sickeningly cute dinnerware with enchanted cat pictures on them, but no living animals.
Subverted with Crookshanks, who Ron initially sees as evil because of his hatred of Scabbers the rat. In the end, it is revealed that he had good intentions all along and even helped the human protagonists with things they wouldn't otherwise have been able to do (get into The Shrieking Shack for the big reveal).
The demonic cats and werecats mentioned in Goosebumps books.
The abusive alley felines in The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her To Fly, by Luis Sepúlveda.
In the Alcatraz Series, the narrator claims that "Kittens are cute so that they can draw you in, then pounce on you for the kill. Seriously. Stay away from kittens."
In Saki's short story "Tobermory" the eponymous cat magically becomes able to talk, and horrifies a group of party guests by tattling on all the sins that he's been spying on over the years. But what Tobermory has forgotten is that cats are mean, but Humans Are the Real Monsters.
Although Warrior Cats partly averts this trope, as mentioned in the aversion section, it plays it straight as well, with Tigerstar, the Dark Forest cats, and Scourge and Bloodclan.
In Steven R. Boyett's Mortality Bridge they're so mean that when they die they are recruited to become demons in Hell.
P.J. O'Rourke wrote the following in Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People:
“Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy. It's easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America's favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance) that it's often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.”
In The Dog Stars, the main character has a Big Friendly Dog as his only companion. Late in the book, he gets into a violent confrontation with a crazy old cat couple. In contrast to the dog's loyalty, the cats start drinking their master's blood before he's even died.
On an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Mike and the Bots watch a movie in which a magical spell gone awry sends an ordinary housecat into a vicious frenzy of claws and teeth against its owner, prompting Mike to quip, "So, this is like any cat then."
Babylon 5 plays with this trope in spades: the Dilgar were a basically race of Nazi-like humanoid felines responsible for massive genocide and experimentation on sentient beings. However, they ended up extinct when their sun went nova, as they had been forced back to their homeworld.
You know they're going to eat your eyes when you die alone?
Nora: I try not to think about that.
In the iCarly episode "iMove Out", the petographers have a cat named Harmu, who tries to claw Spencer's face out every time he sees him.
While he's more a Chaotic Neutral poster child, The Cat from Red Dwarf can be callous, self-serving, greedy, and foolish. But he's still one sharp looking cat, pun fully intended.
Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation has a cat that rather skirts the line. Spot is very close to Data, and he manages to show her quite a bit of affection in his own muted way, having programmed and analyzed hundreds of meals into the replicator for her. While she often gets into trouble by somehow escaping Data's room, she's still very close to her owner. Around other members of the Enterprise's crew, however, she's infamously ill-tempered, scratching and hissing at anyone who gets close to her.
Anyone but her humanoid, that is. A lot of cats latch onto a person or couple of people, and think of anyone else as an invader.
Reginald Barclay got along extremely well with Spot, much to everyone's surprise.
Data and the cat definitely share a strong bond. In Generations, Data finds Spot alive after the Enterprise crashes but is surprised that his newly installed emotion chip seems to be malfunctioning: he's happy, but can't stop crying.
A deleted scene in Star Trek: Nemesis would have shown that Worf was taking care of Spot after Data's temporary death, despite the fact she hadn't gotten along with Worf before.
The X-Files episode "Teso Dos Bichos" had sewer killer pussy cats as its monsters of the week. Said cats were summoned up by a jaguar spirit connected to a female shaman's skeleton. They were mewing and hissing very loudly, killing people, stacking them in a sewer, and they attacked Mulder and Scully, a pair of very tough FBI agents, and hurt them quite severely.
Horrible Histories is hosted by a talking rat puppet, who, naturally, isn't a fan of cats. Especially not in one segue when a loud and angry meow is heard, chasing him offscreen.
Friends: Rachel once bought a hairless sphinx cat that scratches and hisses at her, because her grandmother had one who was nice.
Averted with the cat Phoebe believes her mother reincarnated into.
Grimm: A species of cat like Wesen called Klaustreich, who are a race of Bastard Boyfriend's, who are infamous for their abusive treatment of their victims.
Pet Shop Boys "I Want A Dog", which first appeared as a b-side on their single "Rent" and was later remixed by Frankie Knuckles for their album "Introspective", extols the virtues of dogs as loyal, affectionate defenders whilst containing the lyrics, "Don't want a cat/Scratching its claws all over my habitat/Giving no love and getting fat."
Interestingly, other PSB songs ("Suburbia" and "I'm Not Scared") use dogs to depict more sinister forces.
The Timbuk 3 song "Facts about Cats":
Cats will be cats, and cats will be cruel Cats can be callous, and cats can be cool Cats will be cats, remember these words Cats will be cats, and cats eat birds
The song is metaphorical, though, using "cats" in the hepcat slang sense of "guys."
Catbert from Dilbert is probably the living embodiment of this trope. After so many of his fans, independently, named the character, Scott Adams wanted a reason to keep the character, and came up with Catbert being hired as the Director of Human Resources. His rationale was that a cat was perfect for HR...and would bat you about before downsizing you. Of course, Dogbert isn't much better.
In fact, Dogbert is often shown to have the personality traits of a typical cartoon cat.
Garfield is a strange case. He'll squash sentient spiders without a second thought, he'll kick Odie off the table, and he'll verbally abuse Jon (although Jon doesn't know◊... or does he?◊), but, at least in the series and animated specials, he's a hero who will go out of the way to save his friends. If anything, he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
In one strip, Garfield admits that the reason he doesn't like dogs is because dogs are so friendly. (Meaning friendly to the point of cloying.) Of course, Garfield has met his fair share of dogs that are downright mean.
Garfield's grandfather is this trope played straight. He seems to have shed Garfield's few virtues as the result of age.
Once, when Garfield made yet another crack about Arlene's gap tooth ("What's it like to whistle through your teeth?"), she decided to let him experience it firsthand.
Nermal, the self-proclaimed "World's Cutest Kitten" and Garfeld's nemesis, trades on his cuteness to win affection from Jon while simultaneously shafting Garfield. It's later revealed that Nermal is a midget who intentionally stunts his growth with coffee and cigarettes.
Add "proudly ignorant" and you have Bucky Katt from Get Fuzzy. And he doesn't chase mice.
Rivalling Greebo as a personification of this trope and Badass is Horse from Footrot Flats, a bad-tempered semi-stray who chases off dogs several times his size. Incidentally, he's based on a real cat that used to hang around the author's home.
According to Dog, Horse's mother was a one-eyed, hook-handed alleycat, and his father a Barracuda.
Horse himself believes he is the son of a Leather Jacket.
And not just any leather jacket: one of the jackets of the local biker-gang (owners of his mother). Ah Horse, the only animal who could give Major the pig-dog what-for.
Berke Breathed's Bill the Cat is much too versatile a character to be placed under this trope. However, a Sunday Outland strip features Bill and Opus, lounging in a kiddie pool, while Opus rambles on...Lampshading this trope, he asks Bill his opinion on the stereotype of dogs being faithful, unconditional creatures while cats are mean, selfish, and narcissistic...all the while, Bill is setting up wires attached to a machine to electrocute the unsuspecting Opus. He changes his mind at the end, though, after Opus mentions he doesn't believe all that nonsense.
Maybe not mindless at all. He tends to have a weird sense of humor that he displays by ripping holes in Snoopy's doghouse in funny and ironic shapes. For example, after Snoopy tells him that he "wouldn't know a fiddle from a bass drum", he rips a hole in the doghouse shaped like a violin.
What makes this concept even funnier is that Snoopy (who, being a dog, should really be the bane of a cat's existence) is genuinely terrified of WWII, and moments after taunting him, will always transform into a Miles Gloriosus.
It's implied that Snoopy has good reason to fear WWII, though. He's no ordinary cat. Peppermint Patty once described him as "a dog in a cat suit", and got a good beating when she engaged him in a fight.
Beetle Bailey: Sgt. Louise Lugg's cat Bella has a tough, nasty attitude, and is extremely pampered.
Heathcliff is a Silent Antagonist to most dogs in his neighborhood - for some reason Animal Control seems to have deputized him - and is erratically violent towards humans. Mice he keeps alive provided that they worship him.
A frequent joke in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 was that cats are the greatest enemy of humanity. Statistically, a common housecat would be able to kill a first-level human peasant better than half the time. In defence of the cats, there is nothing in the rules indicating they want to kill humans. They are just surprisingly good at it.
A more specific example within the franchise: the Rakshasa, evil demonic tigers inspired by the creatures of Indian myth. Being Lawful Evil, they can be trusted to keep their word, but good luck getting them to give it and not find some way to weasel out of it. They are generally evil Tricksters who delight in manipulating and betraying mortals.
Older Than Radio, even apart from cats' reputation in European folklore: In Maurice Maeterlink's 1908 play L'Oiseau Bleu (later filmed as The Blue Bird), the children are aided by a dog and a cat. Guess which one betrays them?
The opera The English Cat by Hans Werner Henze: the cats are running the Royal Society For the Protection of Rats (!), but behind the charitable facade, they are all for money and fame — and they don't mind getting red in the claws.
Of all the cats in the play, only Macavity in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats could really be called "mean".
In Edmond Rostand's Chanticler, the farm's treacherous cat plots with the Blackbird and the predators of the night against the titular rooster.
Chrono Cross might be one of the most exaggerated examples; Lynx, the main villain, is a six foot tall anthropomorphic panther.
One of Earthworm Jim's enemies is the aptly named Evil the Cat, who the creators describe as evil in its purest form. He rules the planet Heck, which, as you can probably guess, is Evil's vision of what Hell is.
Possibly invoked with a cat named Purrloin from Pokémon Black and White. It's fairly adorable, but its title is the "Ill-Natured Pokémon", able to make off with people's belongings and get away with it due to its charming nature. Its evolution, Liepard, isn't much better.
Bad Cat was the last and hardest obstacle in the original Glider (much like a Final Boss, except that the Glider games never had Boss Battles).
The Kilrathi, from Wing Commander. Launching unprovoked attacks on peaceful ships and dropping bioweapons on helpless planets (among other things) generally doesn't count as "playing nice".
In Dragon Age: Origins, a demon takes the form of a cat and tries to possess a little girl. The PC can save the girl or let the demon go on its merry way.
Fur Fighters' main antagonist is a massive cat. He leads an army of dumb bears which you can't help but feel are being taken advantage of.
A recurring antagonist in the Metal Gear series, Revolver Ocelot, is named for the desert wildcat. In his appearances as a young man, Ocelot talks at length about the feline's virtues, such as never letting his prey escape. This of course stands in contrast to the protagonist, Snake, and his affinity for dogs.
Purple features a cat-shaped type of demons who attack player by throwing explosive thread-balls at him.
In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Kokonoe acts this way towards Hazama in his gag ending, especially whenever he starts repeatedly sneezing uncontrollably due to his horrible allergies to cats, which, as suggested from her, are rather severe. (It Makes Sense in Context because in the actual story, Hazama was way meaner and Kokonoe had a justified grudge on him)
Kokonoe: Hmmm. I have to say, I kind of like the way your voice sounds right now... Are you crying? Is this the result of a suppressed fight-or-flight response constricting your airway? Hazama: No, this is *Sneeze* *Sneeze* I'm just allergic to—*Sneeze* Kokonoe: Allergic to cats? Oh, an antigen-antibody reaction. You're experiencing anaphylactic shock, huh? Hazama: Just stay right where you are, all right?! You're freaking me out! Kokonoe: Oh, you look so damn scared... Your face looks like a balloon, and you've got some sort of liquid oozing out of just about every hole in it... Ahaha! This is wonderful! Suffer some more! He he he...
She tends to play it straight more often than not, though, as Kokonoe can be a major bitch at times, and her treatment of Tager often borders on abuse.
Maximilian Lionfang's armor is based off of a lion. Plus, he tortured the staff of Artix Entertainment, captured the Spirit of Frostval and several Frostval presents with a snow globe he took from Garaja, performed his Kick the Dog moment of burning the gifts, and even crossed the Moral Event Horizon by knocking the snow globe containing the Frostval Spirit herself out of the hero's hands and shattering it, even though she could not be killed because she was an IDEA.
According to the trailer, someone on The Sims 3 : Pets development team is definitely a dog person. During the trailer, dogs see off burglars, share the odd, bemused Aside Glance with the viewer, and rescue Little Timmy from Bullies. Cats? They eat the pet fish, give their owners the runaround at bathtime, and shred the furniture, hissing and spitting all the while and never bothering to make eye contact. The only ones they seem to like are the horses.
Dark Souls has the Great Felines◊ — huge, Glasgow Grin-sporting monstrosities that make disturbing, yowling noises (basically, they sound like very, very angry housecats) and are capable of devouring the player character in one gulp.
Brain Dead 13: In one scene when a black cat encounters Lance, it will get into a cat fight and slice his head into bits. Ouch!
Constable Neyla from Sly 2: Band Of Thieves, a double-crossing feline who appears nice during the beginning of the game, only so she can get in on the Cooper Gang's plan, and later orders them to be arrested.
The plot of Battle Block Theater is that a boat full of people gets stranded on an island inhabited by anthropomorphic cats, who imprison you and force you to cross several deadly obstacle courses for their enjoyment. Some cats also appear in the obstacle courses as Mooks.
Black Kitty from Goodbye Kitty, who interestingly enough is trying to kill another kitty.
Mittens the crime solving cat from Filmcow (on youtube): quite likely far more evil than every other cat on this trope page combined.
PvP has the aptly named "Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds" (they let the teenaged intern name him). Scratch is a house cat owned by Skull the Troll, who was zapped by an intelligence machine. Once he gained human intelligence, he became increasingly power-mad and megalomaniacal, plotting world domination and general enslavement of humanity (and usually being foiled by his cat instincts). The author, as a response to people telling him how much like their cats Scratch was, broke the trend when his cat instincts actually caused a plan to work — his cat desire to kill birds and small animals and his human intelligence resulted in Scratch going on a minor animal killing spree culminating in the brutal murder of a junkyard dog. The author's response was how many of your cats have beaten a junkyard dog to death with a nail board?
An unusually crude example can be found in Errant Story — the main character, Meji, is a sorceress who has a flying, talking cat by the name of Ellis as her familiar. The 'talking' bit is the clincher, though, since his use of language could make sailors blush — he's constantly making crude suggestions, sexual references, and inappropriate jokes. For obvious reasons, Meji regularly applies a fireball or thunderbolt to him, but since he's Made of Iron, it doesn't really deter him to any significant degree...
Spark, the talking cat from Dominic Deegan, is the main character's pet and familiar. Though he's obviously a protagonist and very devoted to Dominic, Spark can still be a mischievous and downright self-absorbed little bastard at times.
The Lizard people in Restaurante Macoatl are afraid of cats, its been said that cats enslaved and ate them, so when one gets into the restaurant chaos ensued.
Something Positive. It's implied that Choo Choo Bear and Twitchy Hug get up to some evil stuff off-camera...until Choo Choo arranges to have Twitchy Hug assassinated. On camera.
Early in the strip, Choo Choo was shown smothering a kitten, much to the girls' horror, but he has mostly regressed to just panty-stealing and being a background character recently. Twitchy Hug was assassinated mainly because he was getting increasingly psychotic — he killed a hooker in a throwaway gag strip, was seen dragging a body through the house in another strip, and was about to attack Davan when he was killed himself. He also had Mickey-Jesus' head in a jar on top of the fridge.
In strips where Choo Choo Bear answers the Fourth Wall Mail Slot, he's shown to have utter contempt for the readers, the other characters, and the cartoonist. Of course, he also wears a smoking jacket and talks instead of going "Murr!". And is a recurring character in Something Positive.
This isn't the same Choo Choo Bear. The cast page lists in-universe Choo Choo Bear and the anthropomorphic Choo Choo Bear separately, and explicitly says they're not the same character. Of course, the smoking jacket Choo Choo Bear still fits the trope.
In thesetwo strips, Choo Choo's son, Woogie, claims that all cats are evil, soulless monsters forged in "hell's hate furnace" that condition their "owners" to associate abuse with love.
Given how cats act in this comic when not provoked, guess what happened to a guy who tied up a cat and talked about throwing it in the river afterward.
Cat-to-English Translation: I am your God, and your pain is my altar. Now, Worship!
Sinfest features the cat Percival, who, while not overtly malicious, is certainly arrogant. Percival and his friendly but stupid dog companion, Pooch, live with a human whom Pooch calls "Master", while Percival contemptuously calls him "the man".
Percy has a soft spot for Pooch, though, sneaking in and patting him comfortingly when he's ill.
The Perpetual Aquarium: Cartoon Has Cloudie the Kadoatie (i.e., cat on neopets), who lives this trope (although somewhat understandably at times). Snowie, another kadoatie, is a bit of a subversion.
Mr Scruffy has proven his true alignment by mercilessly (and gorily) slaughtering a level 1 commoner gladiator. (Okay, one might argue he was trying to defend his owner and was unaware the latter was in no danger at all).
Elan: I can't tell if the cat is a good influence on Belkar, or Belkar is a bad influence on the cat.
Haley: Both I think, but it probably still averages out somewhere south of Neutral.
And, later... poor, poor YukYuk: the kobold might have had retribution coming... but that is Evil. But, again, you could lay that mainly at Belkar's door. Maybe.
This later comic plays around with it: feline law is cruel and brutal, demanding that an acceptable kill must be given to the one who provides lodging. Actual cats can be compassionate and regretful over the deeds they are forced to do.
ThisDissonance comic shows how cruel cats are when they act cute. Cats are morbidly playful.
Zigzagged in Commander Kitty, where CK eventually goes from an unrepentant Jerk Ass to an Only Sane Man who'll actually stick up for his crew when push comes to shove, but is still prone to jerk moments even after his Character Development. Of course, Ace and Mittens avert this from the get go.
Precocious: Well, not particularly. Though it's probably no coincidence that the two nicest Gemstone kids are dogs (well, a dog and a wolf), while Dionne (said to have no soul) is a cheetah.
In the LG15: the resistance video "Feline Feariousness", Reed rants about how cats are evil, manipulative, and steal souls, and finishes by urging viewers to "Get rid of your cat, before your cat gets rid of you!"
There is an internet meme which shows how a cat and a dog view their respective existences. The cat carefully plots revenge on and escape from its human captors. Meanwhile, the dog will say things like "Walk! YAY! Food! YAY! Pet! YAY! Outside! YAY!"
This video is a case of "Kittens are Mean". Warning: you maySquee a little when one of the kittens growls at its grandma.
In the Orion's Arm setting, the Queen of Pain is exactly what you'd expect to get if you took a terrified, furious, half-dead cat, uplifted it five times in a row, and gave it the body of an Eldritch Abomination.
SCP-607 is a gray cat named Dorian who can transfer any injury it sustains to its current owner. This includes fatal injuries, from which Dorian will simply resurrect and bond with another owner shortly afterwards. Ordinarily this wouldn't be too terrible, except the cat keeps deliberately putting itself in danger, so that its owner can be hurt or killed. It's left up in the air whether the cat is really suicidal or is just being a dick.
Kim Possible has two: Princess the Robo-Cat and Sassie the Puma.
Rumor has it that Walt Disney hated cats (and praised mice and dogs, the two mortal enemies of cats, though another rumor states that he was actually afraid of real mice, so make of that what you will). Among the ways cats are portrayed in Disney animation:
In Classic Disney Shorts, the regular antagonist of Mickey Mouse (and Co.) is Peg-leg Pete, a rather large, imposing bully-of-a-cat. The anthropomorphic dog, Goofy, is amiable, simple-minded, and good-natured, and Pluto is just...a dog.
Peg-leg Pete later becomes Black Pete in the Disney films, the boorish villain.
The 1937 short The Worm Turns both supports and subverts this. Mickey is a chemist who creates a courage formula which turns weak characters into courageous ones, which means they Took a Level in Badass. He first uses it on a less anthropomorphic mouse being tormented by a cat, and then when Pluto chases said cat, Mickey uses the formula on the feline, who proceeds to open a can of whoop-ass on the dog. This work is especially interesting in that it inverts the normal pecking order of the classic American cartoon "food chain" step by step; mouse to cat to dog to dogcatcher (here played by Peg-Leg Pete).
In the Alice Comedies Disney made before creating Mickey, Pete is a non-descript bearlike creature. Alice is also accompanied by a non-villainous cat named Julius.
In House of Mouse, there is some proof that Pete is a cat, as evidenced by Mickey telling Pluto that Pete's the only cat he's allowed to chase.
Lady and the Tramp has the twin evil Siamese cats who wreck the house, try to steal milk from the baby, and then frame Lady for all of it when she tries to stop them, and they don't even get a comeuppance. By contrast, the worst the dogs (even the ones in the Pound) seem to muster up is roguish and/or misunderstood.
Lady Tremaine's cat, Lucifer, from the Disney version of Cinderella. Not only does he try to eat the eponymous heroine's mice friends, he even delights in tormenting poor Cinderella herself, particularly if you note Cinderella III, where he is turned human and loves the idea of sending Cinderella to her doom.
Honest John's feline stooge, Gideon, in the Disney version of Pinocchio. At least once, he tries to hit Pinocchio on the head with a mallet, only to be stopped by the fox, who thinks that the cat's idea is too crude.
One of the two big bads in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is feline crime boss Fat Cat. (Originally, he was a pet belonging to Aldrin Klordane, the villain in the Five-Episode Pilot.) One of his henchmen, Mepps, is also a cat. In the pilot episode, Fat Cat and his main henchmen deal with the Siamese Twins, a pair of felines that scare even him. In one episode, Fat Cat's French cousin is the villain. (Finding out that the guy is Fat Cat's Cousin is more than enough to make Monterey Jack not like him.) Also, when Gadget becomes a human's good luck charm (or so he thinks), his cat becomes jealous enough to kill, her being his previous charm.(Of course, in a show where the heroes consist of two chipmunks and two mice, it's natural that some villainous cats are going to show up.)
The Disney Animated Canon version of Tarzan has Sabor, a vicious leopard that practically borders on terrifying. She kills Kala's baby and Tarzan's parents and is strong enough to put up a huge fight against a silverback gorilla.
Not only that, but she practically comes across as a feline Ax-Crazy with her bulging eyes and spastic mannerisms.
Disney'sThe Jungle Book has both an antagonistic (Shere Khan) and friendly (Bagheera) feline character, but this is hardly Disney's invention.
Zig-zagged in TaleSpin. Shere Khan is a ruthless businessman with some questionable morality when it comes to his work, but otherwise has a very strong sense of honor and integrity (he's even willing to admit when he's wrong). He also has a (grudging) respect towards Baloo. He's more along the lines of True Neutral or possibly Neutral Evil, since he's more interested in profit than anything of true malice.
And then taken back again even further in The Jungle Book 2, while Shere Khan from the original film was more villainous than his TaleSpin counterpart, he at least had some plausible affable and whimsical traits to make him a somewhat likeable villain. In the sequel, he is embittered into a scary-ish Super-Persistent Predator.
Aladdin: The Series had a Cat Girl villain named Mirage, and also a trickster deity named Chaos who took the form of a winged cat. (Not exactly "mean" unless you make him angry, which Genie pleaded with Aladdin and Jasmine not to do.)
The main villain of the first act of ''Goliath II'' is a tiger named Rajah (no relation to the nice, similarly-named tiger from Aladdin), who is constantly trying to eat the titular elephant. He is ultimately defeated by being tossed into a crocodile's mouth, but later crawled out unharmed and ran away, never to be seen again.
Chuck Jones' Claude Cat was eventually recast as a mean antagonist to the much cuter Frisky Puppy and/or Pussyfoot the Kitten.
He even changes appearance in the recasting, going from soft and rounded to scraggly and angular like Wile. E. Coyote.
Garfield, of Garfield and Friends, is portrayed somewhat like this, making him a sort of Anti-Hero; however, he's less cruel and nasty than lazy and cynical. He does try (and fail) to catch the non-talking birds in his universe, but unlike other cats, he won't chase mice unless Jon forces his paw. Even then, he won't eat them, even under orders from The Kitty Council.
The comics version of Garfield is an outright bastard about killing spiders, though. This may be intentionally deconstructing the Cats Are Mean trope, though, since most humans have no compunction about acting the exact same way toward arthropod vermin.
There have also been a few instances in the comics where Garfield devoured sentient, talking houseplants while they begged for mercy. At least the spiders can run away...
Robot Chicken condensed this entire trope into one thirty-second skit: a cat, sitting at the top of a staircase, deliberately trips its owner. Big, flashing letters declare "Cats Are Jerks". We then get the tripping in super slo-motion, just to make the point.
In a much later skit, several officials discuss why there was a cat at many disasters such as Kennedy's assassination and Hurricane Katrina (and also the above sketch). They conclude that they are being manipulated by cats. When one asks, "what can we do?", the scientist reveals himself as a cat, responds "YOU CAN DO NOTHING!", and shoots them all. Then a big "Cats are Jerks" pops up.
The Smurfs wouldn't argue about this. Gargamel has a really nasty cat named Azrael who views them the same way most cats do mice.
CatDog: Cat doesn't quite fit the trope: he is a heroic character, and has had quite a few moments of kindness and generosity. He has a definite jerk streak, though. Contrast the cats from the episode "The Cat Club," who are borderline feline supremacists who have a desire to wipe out dogs.
An episode of King of the Hill deals with this trope. Hank signs up to care for the pet of an army commander, assuming immediately that "Pet" means "Dog". When he's assigned a cat, named Duke, Hank is portrayed as cheated and humiliated for it. Further, Duke himself is mean and ill-tempered, making life a living hell for his good-natured caretakers. Bill meanwhile, winds up taking care of a dog through the same program, who winds up not only being loyal and well-behaved, but makes Bill successful with the opposite sex. Subtle.
An episode of American Dad! has Steve finding a stray cat and caring for it, and no matter what Steve tries to do, the cat always goes into a violent berserk rage against Steve.
You only need to watch one episode of Atomic Betty to see it was obviously written by a cat hater.
When Brian leaves in the Family Guy episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", the Griffins get a new cat. In the cat's first appearance, it hisses at the family from the top of the fridge and throws fireworks. Peter later notes how he loves their new cat with his back revealing plenty of claw marks.
Johnny Test: in one episode, Johnny and friends stop an evil cat endowed with heightened intelligence similar to Johnny's dog, Dooky, from transforming the entire town into cats.
Rarity's pet cat Opalescence in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic can be nasty to just about anyone except Fluttershy, the resident Friend to All Living Things. Rarity herself is sometimes just asking for it, like when she's innocently insensitive to what makes her pet feel uncomfortable, but Opal's attitude is pretty indiscriminate towards everyone.
Makunga, the evil Scar-lookalike lion villain of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Played straight in the Sports Cartoons that used to air on Nickelodeon during commercial breaks. The blue cat, in every cartoon except for one, is an unfair cheater who almost always gets his come-uppance by either the hippopotamus or the pig.
In Father of the Pride, Sierra has a rebellious, stuck-up personality and Sarmoti is extremely rude and insulting towards Larry (despite saying in one episode that he still loves him and the whole family no matter what).
One of the bullies in Lenny & Sid is a huge female cat named Hilda.
Custard, next door neighbour cat to Roobarb is the resident Deadpan Snarker, spearheading heckling to Roobarb's antics and even cheating or sabotaging some of his schemes personally. They have moments as Vitriolic Best Buds where he shows he's not a complete heel however.
Subversions, Inversions, and other Exceptions:
Anime and Manga
Naruto learns the first step of the Rasengan by watching a friendly cat play with a water balloon. Said cat eagerly lets him pick him up and play with him after.
Played straight and then subverted in The Borrower Arrietty. Sho's cat, Niya, at first, is mean and predatory towards Arrietty, but he ultimately makes peace with her.
A subversion exist in Cardcaptor Sakura. Kero can be annoying and far too smug, sometimes seems like a Dirty Coward, and has a bad temper that can lead to old-style comedic catfights at the drop of a hat. But he's also unequivocally a hero, utterly adorable and sweet most of the time, has a hilarious addiction to video games, his most memorable trait is being a Big Eater, and his true form is incredibly awesome and badass (most of the time). His counterpart, Spinel Sun, is set up to look like this trope, since he works for the Big Bad of Season 2, but in actuality, he's quite sophisticated, charming, and unthreatening, and he rarely does anything 'villainous' unless ordered to. He even befriends Kero (albeit with a little of The Rival and Worthy Opponent going on) and turns out to have a hilarious reaction to sugar.
Chi's Sweet Home is all about this. A curious little kitten shares her take on day to day events.
Kyo, from Fruits Basket. Basically hated by his own family for being the cat of the zodiac, he is also saddled with a curse that turns him into a hideous and apparently horrible smelling demon should he ever not wear his magical bracelet. The curse stems from the cat of the zodiac legend disagreeing with God. Turns out, he didn't want to live forever. His charming personality doesn't exactly help either. Of course, he gets the girl in the end.
Kyo's got pretty good reasons to be the way he is. His skittish personality comes from his mother killing herself for "giving birth to a monster" and being told "I Have No Son" by his traumatised and also mentally unstable father right after that, who handed the kid to Kyo's uncle, Kazuma. Not to mention he, just like Yuki, was a victim of the also mentally unstable Akito's psychological abuse, and later blamed himself greatly for the death of Kyoko, Tohru (the girl)'s mother, which he witnessed. So, he's not an angel, but he ain't evil: more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with quite the Freudian Excuse.
Heartwretchingly subverted in the new 2009 adaptation of "Jungle Emperor Leo", where Kimba lives with his parents in an artificial, strictly controlled habitat with the other animals designed by the creator, Director Ooyama, who doesn't actually have their best interests in mind. In fact, he's not doing it to save the species, but to show his god-like power over life, including genetically engineering animals in People Jars (or, should I say, animal jars) to populate his new neo-jungle with perfect species, while disposing of the ones who don't meet his genetic requirements. One of those unfortunate failures who survived was a panther named Toto, who, as a cub, was forced to watch the rest of his cloned siblings die as a result of Ooyama's purging for their genetic imperfection. Watching an adorable little cub become a battle-heartened, cynical panther dedicated to killing humanity makes his Redemption Equals Death when helped by the only person who showed him kindness (and the director's son no less!) all the more sad. Of course, Kimba and his parents are subversions too.
Averted in Outlaw Star: The Cat Girl Cop is on the good guys' side in spite of being slightly antagonistic towards them.
The cats in ARIA are rather nice, at least to Akari and Ai (whenever she's around).
In Inuyasha, Kagome's pet cat in the present has no problem with Inuyasha's presence and is usually seen playing with him whenever Inuyasha visits. Especially hilarious since Inuyasha is part dog demon. Sango's pet demon kitty Kirara is also pretty friendly.
In both Bakeneko arcs of Mononoke, the antagonist takes the form of a giant, monstrous cat. The subversion comes in with the fact that both times, they were created from humans being assholes. The first arc's bakeneko started as a cute, friendly kitten whose only violent act was in defense of its owner. Overarching moral? Cats are sweet, innocent, and only ever want to help.
Seemingly played straight with the Red Lantern's blue house cat, but subverted in a recent spotlight on Dex-Star which explains whyhe's so angry. A gang of thieves killed his human, and he wants revenge on them. Yep, a cat with loyalty.
The Church Mice children's 'comics' feature a cat called Sampson that lives at peace with a positive plague of mice that inhabit a suburban church. It is made abundantly clear in at least one book that Sampson is something of a freak...
Subverted in Billy the Cat, where the eponymous character, who ironically started as a mean and vicious brat, ends up being reincarnated as a cat, and becomes actually a better person while being a cat. Almost all real cats portrayed around him are portrayed as at worst neutral, and at best friendly. The only exception is the villain, Sanctifer, and even he is revealed to have a Freudian Excuse later in the series.
Mr. Tawky Tawny in the Shazam franchise sometimes causes a scare for being a humanoid tiger, but anyone who takes the time to know about him will realize that he is a perfect gentleman and a wonderful person to know.
Similarly, although he is rather gruff and snarky, a bit coarse, and something of a womanizer, Desmond Farr (Tiger-Man) from DC Comics remains good-hearted overall, and a hero.
Rajah the nice tiger from Aladdin (no relation to the similarly-named tiger from the first act of ''Goliath II'').
Subverted with all the lions of The Lion King and the two sequels, except Scar and Zira.
Subverted with Bagheera from The Jungle Book, though this is hardly Disney's invention.
Walt's story men were able to get a real feline protagonist into Pinocchio. True, Figaro was a cute, unrealistically obedient kitten who took a lot of crap from an old man and a goldfish, but still, good cat!
On the other hand, Pinocchio also has Gideon, a mute but otherwise very anthropomorphic cat who tries his best to help the evil talking fox J. Worthington Foulfellow in his schemes to encourage children to be irresponsible and endanger themselves. But Gideon is not so much actually mean as just dumb.
Oliver & Company strongly subverts this (if not inverts it) with Oliver the cat portrayed primarily as The Woobie, with probably the fewest wrongdoings of any character, with the possible exception of Jenny, another woobie. Even questionable morality is mostly on the part of the dogs and, of course, the human characters (except Jenny). This approach is very unusual for a Disney movie.
In The Rescuers, this trope is Hand Waved away when the mice meet the cat Rufus — he asks them politely to leave, because if mice move in, his owners will get rid of him for not doing his job. He comments that he's "too old to be chasing mice", which implies that a younger Rufus would gladly have killed and eaten them.
The Cheshire Cat in Disney's animated version of Alice in Wonderland, though ostensibly a friendly character, seems to delight in getting Alice into trouble with the Queen (whether Alice is actually the intended target of his mischief or he simply enjoys angering the Queen is not made clear). Conversely, in the real-world segments of the film, Alice has a perfectly pleasant and innocent pet cat named Dinah.
The Disney animated feature The Aristocats both subverts and supports this trope. The elegant, refined Duchess and her rambunctious-yet-lovable kittens are as nice as you can hope; they're even friends with a mouse named Roquefort. Then there's Duchess' boyfriend O'Malley, the alley cat, and his pals, Scat Cat and his jazz band, all of whom are "a little rough around the edges." While Scat Cat's gang are definitely good guys, at one point, they capture Roquefort and toy with him, clearly intending to eat him. Roquefort survives only because he blurts out that he knows O'Malley. The film features a pair of dogs, who don't treat each other quite as well.
Historical note: The Aristocats was the first film produced after Walt's death. The version of the film that he worked on before passing away had Duchess and the kittens as more snobby jerks with hearts of gold who were just looking for a good home. Initially the "Aristocats" name was meant to be sarcastic, but as the film went on the main characters would have earned it.
On the other hand, 101 Dalmatians has Sgt. Tibbs, a friendly and heroic tabby cat who is the one to initially free the puppies from Cruella's henchmen, and was produced while Walt was still alive.
It's addressed in a surprisingly mature way. When Bolt realizes that this trope simply isn't true (at least, not to the extent he's been trained to think), it's the first major step in his Character Development. And while it's only Sub Text, it's implied a few times that Mittens suffers from Fantastic Racism as a result of this perception.
Furthermore, it's implied that Mitten's behavior before meeting Bolt was a Jerkass Façade to stay alive, i.e. she only bullied the birds because she's declawed and can't hunt.
Alex the lion from Madagascar and his parents from the sequel.
Averted with Mei Ling from Kung Fu Panda: Secrets Of The Furious Five.
Film — Live Action
It is suggested that Orion in Men In Black actually cared about or had some loyalty towards his owner.
The sequel to Cats & Dogs shows that there are heroic cats. They're just more subtle about their work. Though the villain double-subverts this, she at least possess a Freudian Excuse for her attitude.
The only feline character in the Hungarian movie The Cat Trap who subverts this trope is Cathy, the daughter of one of the villains' henchmen who's actually friends with a mouse.
Played with in Stuart Little. The pet cat Snowbell starts very antagonistic towards the heroic mouse Stuart, even trying to eat him and kill him, but later is shown as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and, when his street cat friends from the alley want him to eat Stuart to be In with the In Crowd, he ultimately sides with Stuart. Played straight in the novel, however — see above.
In Dr. Dolittle (the Eddie Murphy film), the sick tiger is about to commit suicide on behalf of this trope, and Dolittle is forced to think of an example of a positive depiction of a tiger in popular culture in order to convince the tiger to change his mind. The tiger himself is depicted as surprisingly gentle and kind, with the only 'meanness' being due to a shard of bone in his head pressing in on his brain.
Slight subversion in the live-action versions of the Homeward Bound series. The cat, Sassy, is sarcastic and temperamental, even though she's a protagonist. The films don't really portray her negatively as much as they portray the two dogs, Chance and Shadow, in a much more noble light. For a straight example, see above.
The Adventures of Milo and Otis was extensively reworked from its original Japanese release...but the protagonist cat, Milo, is portrayed as good-natured and curious, and even his occasional mischievous moments are generally endearing rather than offputting. Also somewhat unusually in fiction, he's close friends with a pug named Otis, hence the title.
Film exception: You'd expect a Stephen King film about a cat to be all over this trope, right? But in the anthology film Cats Eye, the cat is a mere bystander in the first two stories, and in the third, despite the mother's belief that it should be kept out of her daughter's room in case it "steals her breath", it actually defends her from the troll-like creature which is really doing this. Maybe Stephen King likes cats.
Given that, at least for a while, many of his author portraits on the back of his books have been of him holding his cat, I'm going to say yes.
Also, in Sleepwalkers, the villains look like werecats but real cats attack them on sight. In fact, it's a small army of cats that saves the day when they scratch the villains to death.
He also wrote the "Cat from Hell" segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Despite the title, the homicidal cat is actually punishing the characters for their wrong doings.
In a Japanese folk-tale, a young boy's favorite thing to draw is the domestic cat, and one night, he happens upon an abandoned temple. Bored, he covers the walls with pictures of cats and goes to sleep. Sometime in the night, a demon spots him (the demon being the reason the temple was abandoned — it had eaten everyone there) and gives chase. The boy hides, hears a horrible commotion, and, come morning, peeks out of his hiding place: all that remains of the demon are a few bones, and every single one of his cat-pictures has a smear of red around its mouth.
Diana Wynne Jones's Castle in the Sky (sequel to Howl's Moving Castle) features a black cat who generally makes herself a nuisance to the main character, putting her and her kitten's needs before anything else. Later in the book, she is revealed to be Sophie, the protagonist of the first book, and the kitten is her and Howl's son, Morgan.
Partially subverted in Patricia Highfield's short story "Ming's Biggest Prey"—Teddie is abusive to Elaine, and tries to drown Ming, but Ming clearly resents anyone and everyone who takes Elaine's attention away from him.
Reversed in The Cat Who Went to Heaven, a novel written in 1930 by Elizabeth Coatsworth and based on Buddhist folk tales. A painter is commissioned by some Buddhist monks for a painting glorifying all the animals blessed by Buddha at his death. According to classical Buddhism, the cat rejected Buddha and was not included note in many other tales, cats are depicted as demonic. Nevertheless, the painter had recently adopted a stray cat, and having loved the animal, could not imagine Heaven not accepting cats. To the outrage of the monks, he includes a small white cat in the painting, and his own cat dies of happiness at the same time. The next day, by miracle, the painting of Buddha has changedto him blessing the cat personally.
In the Neil Gaiman short story "The Price" in his Smoke and Mirrors anthology, the cat, though scarred, grizzled, and usually bleeding profusely, is actually defending humanity from Satan. The introduction implies that the cat is a guardian angel, of sorts.
In the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the cats of Ulthar are sentient and helpful to those who deserve it, but also cryptic and very dangerous. In the novella Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath, the cats help hero Randolph Carter and make war with the evil zoogs. In the short story "The Cats of Ulhar", they slaughter a pair of villains out of revenge. Lovecraft himself was a cat-lover who believed that they are connected to ancient mysteries.
Lovecraft has a somewhat more obvious aversion in the early story "The Rats in the Walls", where the cat's agitation and natural animosity with the rats (here clearly an evil force) makes them good and very useful for the suspense. Alas, it also demonstrates HPL's severe Values Dissonance by having the unfortunate name "Nigger-Man".
There is also "Cats and Dogs", a rather lenghty essay where Lovecraft methodically argues which animal he thinks is the superior pet, and what does he thinks of the kind of person who owns them. Be aware, don't read it if you are a canine lover!
In A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, the cat Greymalk and her mistress are sympathetic and not evil, unlike the rest of the Openers, and unwittingly wind up helping the Closers, thanks to Bubo. Though the canine narrator mentions that cats are notoriously unreliable and sneaky, and, normally, he doesn't care about them, Bubo had a thing or two to say about cat-and-mouse games.
In The Cat Who Wished To Be A Man, by Lloyd Alexander. The eponymous cat, Lionel, begs his master (a wizard who gave him speech in the first place) to turn him into a human. Lionel is one of the kindest, nicest, and most generous humans in the book, especially compared to the villainous and tyrannical local ruler, bent on bleeding the town dry with outrageous taxes and fines.
Lloyd Alexander has averted the trope in many of his books, most obviously in the short-story collection The Town Cats And Other Tales, where all the stories star heroic and helpful cats (several of whom are pitted against foolish, Jerk Ass humans and come out on top). On the whole, if a cat appears in a Lloyd Alexander book, it's likely to ultimately be friendly.
Subverted in The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan the Golden Lion Jesus, while "not tame", is most definitely the head Good Guy. He also disguises Himself as a domestic cat once in order to comfort Shasta. There are other good cats, such as other lions and leopards.
Bagheera from The Jungle Book is a wise and loyal ally to Mowgli — although he is also known to be a ferocious and deadly hunter.
The Glass Cat is vain (although that is more her maker's fault than hers), but she does help out Dorothy and co. quite frequently.
There's also the white kitten Eureka, brought to Oz by Dorothy in one of the books, with whom the Glass Cat has an ongoing rivalry; like the Glass Cat, Eureka is somewhat bratty, but not evil.
The cat from The Last Unicorn ultimately helps Molly, even though he is a bit of a jerk about it.
Subverted in the Amelia Peabody series, where the cat Bastet (always referred to as "the cat Bastet" in full) and her daughter, Sekhmet, are somewhat snarky in behavior, but about as useful and familiar-like as cats can be in non-fantasy fiction.
You would expect that the book series Redwall would only obey this trope, since mice are about half the cast. Oddly enough, it doesn't. The first cat we ever meet, Squire Julian, spits the mouse hero out when he accidentally falls into his mouth, complaining that he doesn't eat rodents anymore; Julian is more of a resigned noble than anything else. His ancestor, Gingivere (seen in the later-released but chronologically earlier Mossflower), is genuinely a good, kind soul, and his father Verdauga has his good side. On the other hand, Gingivere's sister, Tzarmina, is that book's Big Bad (and kills their father, framing Gingivere for it), and their uncle Ungatt Trunn is the villain in the book Lord Brocktree. It's about an even split.
It's worth noting that Julian is one of the few actually described as a cat, rather than a wildcat. This might simply be because he appears in the first book and Jaques didn't think to realize domestic cats wouldn't be around in a world without humans, but nonetheless, it paints a much less feral image.
Oddly, various non-cat species that prey on rodents, even within the Redwall universe (seeing as Badgers don't seem to, even though they do in real life), such as hawks and owls, are not always portrayed as evil, ranging from noble heroes (there was one owl sage, at least one heroic hawk, the latter because he was rescued by woodlanders) to dangerous but neutral on the good-evil scale (would eat woodlanders in theory, but more often preyed on vermin).
Subverted in Coraline — the cat is snarky, overtly cool towards the main character, and hates being picked up or 'played with', but genuinely seems to care about the girl and is her main ally against the Other Mother. He points out that the tendency of cats to play with their food sometimes lets it escape, which rarely happens to humans' food.
In The Hundred and One Dalmatians (the novel upon which the Disney movie is based), Cruella de Vil's cat is portrayed as a sympathetic character who helps the dogs save their puppies and trashes her owner's fur collection as revenge for Cruella killing her kittens. In addition, the colonel has a female cat lieutenant, Willow (changed to the male Sgt. Tibbs in the film, who was obviously ready to die protecting the puppies. Fortunately Pongo and Perdita arrive in a classic Big Damn Heroes moment to save the day.).
In the Honor Harrington series, the treecats of Sphinx are sentient, empathically bonded to their humans, loyal to a fault, and fully capable of obliterating anything that dares threaten them or their human charges. (Nimitz, Honor's treecat, sees enemies in two forms: those that have been properly dealt with and those that are still alive.)
Inversion: In R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt books, the heroic magical panther Guenhyvar is often seen fighting large and nasty canine monsters.
While the man in Poe's "The Black Cat" doomed himself by hanging the eponymous puss (who might even be heroic), the resulting downfall is just as mean.
There are two black cats in this story: there is the hanged one (who was rather friendly than heroic) and the second one, found by the protagonist later, who was a bit scary (when he was found he only had a white spot that begun to become larger and gallows-shaped). Eventually, he tried to escape from the protagonist who wanted to kill him when he was drunk, which led to making the protagonist kill his wife when she tried to save the cat. Then, he alerted policemen when they were investigating her disappearance and searched in the protagonist's basement (the corpse was behind the wall that the man made after killing her, but he hadn't noticed that the cat was also there).
Here, cats aren't really evil, or cruel, or mean, so much as bodies for poetic justice to walk around in.
The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her To Fly, by Luis Sep?da. Although almost the entire cast is made of well-meaning cats, they do have to deal with abusive alley felines.
In Robert Westall's The Cats of Seroster, the cats are far from evil; they spend most of the book attempting to save the city they live in by convincing a young man to become a hero. They do have some bad moments, but mostly manage to avoid this trope.
Also subverted in Ende's The Neverending Story in the character of the lion Grograman. Yes, all land around him is turned into scorching deserts and no one can touch him without being burnt to a crisp, but this is an involuntary part of his nature and not a sign of malice or inner evil. When Bastian, protected by the AURYN, is able to speak with him, Grograman comes across as a quite personable, even friendly, beast, as well as rather melancholic due to his enforced solitude, ignorance about his origin, and painful(daily)Transformation Sequence. The scenes where Bastian discovers the truth about him and sits with him so he won't be alone are genuine TearJerkers, and Grograman himself is actually treated as a brave companion by Bastian to the point he wants the lion to come with him on his journey (which Grograman points out to him is sadly impossible, since he takes the desert with him wherever he goes).
Subverted numerously in Tamora Pierce's Tortall series.
In the Song of the Lioness quartet and the Beka Cooper books, Faithful (AKA Pounce) is the Cat constellation sent to help the heroines.
In the last book in Protector of the Small quartet, a cat dies attacking the Big Bad in order to give the protagonist enough time to counter strike (she gets better).
In one of the Immortals books, the main character is helped by two cats to infiltrate a castle.
In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, Miranda's familiar, Tybalt the Prince of Cats.
The moor cats of Shannara are as good, friendly, and loyal as they come, not only befriending the humans they choose to protect but being quite willing to fight the various evil creatures and monsters that the heroes face. Whisper and Rumor are incredibly Bad Ass when fighting the Mord Wraiths and Shadowen respectively, and come close to giving their lives several times, while Bandit, the wild moor cat "tamed" by Pen in High Druid solely through curiosity over his animal-speechempathy, actually does give his life fighting Aphasia Wye.
Played with in Magic Kingdom of Landover: although he is often arrogant, dismissive, mocking of those with lesser intelligence or understanding, snarky, and acting on his own whims and initiative, Edgewood Dirk remains a loyal ally when he is truly needed and provides Ben Holiday, Willow, and Mistaya with plenty of insight, wisdom, and helpful advice. His cryptic replies and bouts of indifference are as much because of his being a True Neutral, and one of The Fair Folk of the setting, as his species.
Live Action TV
Salem, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who was a warlock turned into a cat for trying to take over the world. He's given up on the world domination, but is still the snarker and comes up with several get-rich-quick schemes.
My Cat From Hell is a more of a show about Jackson Galaxy showing cat's owners how to treat a cat so the cats are not "mean" to others. Often, he shows how cats interact with their environment and how to "communicate" with the cat.
Subverted by Calvin and Hobbes; Hobbes the stuffed (?) tiger is more or less Calvin's moral center.
When he isn't pouncing on Calvin. One of the comic books is entitled Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.
Given his experiences with World War II, Snoopy's reaction to Frieda getting a cat was understandable...as was his surprise to see Faron, an incredibly laid-back cat that dangled from her arms, when he showed up.
"That's a cat?!?"
Krazy Kat, where the antagonist is, instead, Ignatz Mouse.
In Citizen Dog, cats were friendly and dumb while dogs were jerks and of normal intelligence.
Mostly subverted in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. The young cats just want to play and have fun. The older cats devote themselves to looking after the younger cats. It's suggested that Grizabella led a less than exemplary life, but she regrets how her misspent youth has alienated her. Eventually, she is forgiven by the other cats.
Inverted with the Purr-Tenders, who are all bright and friendly and just want to be special. By contrast, the nasty bulldog Ed-grr hated them all just because they were cats and wanted to see them miserable.
Subverted with the Androcles Lion, where a lion is grateful to someone who helped him. Very big nice cat!
Subverted with Felicia of Darkstalkers, who is very friendly and amiable. Other catwomen tend to subvert this trope as well (as long as you don't bully Felicia).
Dragon Age: Origins may have given us the Demon Cat, but it also gave us the Resurrection Kitty, Ser Pounce-a-lot, Anders' cute companion who had the nifty trick of reviving all unconscious party members. Mind you, it wasn't until the sequel that we really began to miss Ser Pounce's anti-crazy effect on Anders...
Subverted in Final Fantasy X. While two of the Ronso do appear as Those Two Guys to follow and menace the party, and end up being bosses, the race in general is made of proud warrior race guys who are noble, honorable, and heroic, and one of them is a member of your party and acts as a loyal defender and moral center. (His first appearance plays with the trope, since he leaps out of nowhere to attack the main character, but after being defeated it is proven to just have been a Secret Test of Character.) Every other one encountered as an NPC is polite, mild-mannered, and friendly. And even Those Two Guys, after you defeat them and prove Kimahri is stronger and braver, change their tune and join the rest of the Ronso race in placing themselves between the party and Big Bad Seymour. With tragic consequences.
According to old Khajiiti myth, kittens are the most suitable representatives of destruction in The Elder Scrolls. The subversion being that this is said by a race of catfolk in an origin myth that puts almost every god in cat terms, so just as the Little Khajiit is Mehrunes Dagon ("for what is more destructive than an kitten?"), so is the Mother Cat Mara ("for what is more loving than a mother?").
In Fur Fighters, Juliette is a friendly cat, and she serves as The Chick in the group's Five-Man Band. She is an aversion of the trope, contrasting with the game's feline Big Bad, Viggo, who plays this trope straight.
While Kokonoe mostly plays it straight in BlazBlue, it's notable that she's an exception to the rule. Just about every other cat in the series subverts this, including Taokaka (and the entire Kaka clan) and Kokonoe's father Jubei.
As the title suggests, cats are the only friends Susan, protagonist of The Cat Lady, has at the beginning of the game. They even go so far as to save her life on multiple occasions, most dramatically when they mob, kill, and eat the fourth Parasite after he has invaded Susan's flat.
Cats in Elona nearly always spawn as neutral NPCs who will kill enemies for you. The major exception is the Cat House mission, and even then, the ordinary cats the boss summons will still be neutral to you.
The eponymous cat featured in Simon's Cat does cause all sorts of trouble, but he's rarely shown being intentionally malevolent. Often, he just wants food or some other form of attention and can be quite affectionate at times.
There's the kitten in the newer cartoons as well.
''RWBY's Blake Belladonna- a cat Faunus- is a bit of a loner, but very nice when she does talk to people.
The Big Bad of Cucumber Quest, Queen Cordelia, has cat ears, which is noted as highly suspicious considering everyone else has rabbit ears.
Exception to the "good cats don't eat humanized mice": in Girl Genius, the cat construct Krosp becomes Agatha's friend and guardian. He's a good guy, if at times a bit too pragmatic to be heroic. When they're stuck in the wild, he finally manages to catch a mouse to eat. As he and Agatha discuss things for a whole page, that mouse is in Krosp's hand looking scared to death and quite humanized. When Agatha says there's enough food to last for a while and she won't eat a mouse yet, the mouse looks relieved. The next panel, the mouse's head is missing; Krosp has eaten it.
He does give the following line, though:
Krosp: "Is this one of those situations that involves 'ethics'? 'Cause I'm a cat, you know. I've never been very good at those.
Blade on a Stick: Carrot had one...before he ran off in terror away from a harmless monster.
Bec in Homestuck is a Big Friendly Dog whom Jade loves dearly. His alpha counterpart, Godcat, is fickle and mysterious and Jane feels very ambivalent about him. The revelation that he can be mind-controlled by the psychotic troll empress isn't helping.
GCAT aside other cats and cat-themed characters seem to be genuinely good, especially the 'ship-crazy (that's one making every possible romantic pairing (plus friends and Foe Yay) in the page pic) Genki GirlCat GirlLeo trolls.
In Cesium, Mike's cat greets him by attacking him. Of course, you'd be angry too if you were taken to the future in a time machine and then forgotten about for a month.
Mean Kitty plays with this; Sparta is quite aggressive but Mr. Safety says right out that he's not fighting, he's just showing love.
There was a video reviewed by Ray William Johnson that subverts this trope. Two lion(esse)s snuggle with a man who seem unsure whether he should be aroused or weirded out by it.
The cats from Top Cat. While the main character is a con artist, he's also a pretty decent guy. His gang is even more of a subversion — while they generally obey him, they won't hesitate to refuse to help him whenever he tries something truly immoral (like the time he tried to sell Dibble's birthday presents).
Tom from Tom and Jerry is always treated as the villain, forever chasing (and failing to catch) a smaller, cuter, and usually innocently depicted animal, even though the "innocent" mouse usually initiates the trouble. Jerry is always the Designated Hero even when he is being a parasitic eating-machine that appears victimized when he's prevented from stealing food from Tom or his owners.
It didn't help that nearly half the shorts involved another bigger animal siding with Jerry and helping him antagonize Tom and steal more food. Heck, sometimes the very people who ordered Tom to go after Jerry in the first place side with the mouse in the end. Then again, it's very wrong to say there weren't points where Tom was picking on Jerry for the sheer fun of it (or enjoying his job a bit too much).
Which make the occasional instances where Tom wins all the sweeter.
"Cat vs. mouse" cartoons from lower-rung studios, like Herman And Katnip and Little Roquefort, make Tom and Jerry cartoons look positively even-handed and lack their artistry or nuance.
Sylvester from Looney Tunes is a (bit) more buffoon-like than even Tom of Tom and Jerry, to the extent that he can even be endearing. Tweety Pie may seem innocent and plays up the cute angle, but is, to some extent, a Devil in Plain Sight, despite being the hero, as he has a real malicious streak (especially in the very early Tweety shorts, like A Tale Of Two Kitties). When Sylvester appears in shorts without Tweety Pie, he is sometimes the hero.
In fact, in one cartoon, Sylvester went to Birds Anonymous to try to give up his habit of chasing birds. By the end of the cartoon, he appeared to have succeeded, but ironically, his sponsor relapsed.
Sylvester arguably came off as the most sympathetic Looney Tunes antagonist, given that, unlike others that were directly antagonistic or criminals, most of Sylvester's actions didn't exceed past that of a normal cat (in some cases, he was established as half-starved and desperate for food). It's worsened in that, similar to the Tom and Jerry example, the universe seems skewed to punish Sylvester, when not labelling him a monster and a cad for trying to catch an innocent little bird, he is being branded a coward and a joke for NOT catching another (supposedly) smaller defenseless animal. And of course, there were plenty of moments mice, birds, and dogs tortured him unprovoked.
It's important to note that Sylvester is somewhat of a toned-down version of the most famous Looney Tunes canine — Wile E Coyote. The Coyote gets a meaner portrayal, with his hunt being a little less innocent and his prey being more innocent than Sylvester's. Of course, Mr. Coyote is not a domestic dog, but rather an animal normally considered dangerous to humans, which makes it easier to portray him as a villain (much like wolves often are). What IS interesting is that while many viewers preferred to see Sylvester as the villain in his relationship with Tweety, the Coyote is often remembered as the protagonist of the Roadrunner cartoons anyway!
Parodied in The Simpsons'. The Show Within a Show "The Itchy & Scratchy Show" features a subversion — Itchy and Scratchy magnifies the degree of sadism with which Jerry treated Tom. Itchy and Scratchy just removes the "he started it" justification. Scratchy the cat is dumb and nice, believing Itchy to be his friend, while Itchy conspires to kill him for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes, Scratchy, the cat, tries to team up with Itchy, the mouse. Itchy always takes this opportunity to launch an appallingly violent surprise attack.
In one Halloween Episode, they genuinely teamed up to chase after Bart and Lisa (who had been drawn into their world via a TV remote powered by plutonium), after Scratchy actually saw the two of them laughing at Itchy's pranks, and they both thought it was mean.
Heathcliff is another antiheroic feline; while a likeable guy, he also tends to pick fights, steal fish, and generally cause trouble. Oddly, he befriends mice like Garfield does.
In Tiny Toon Adventures, Furrball is an exception. Not only can he only meow (most of the time), he spends more of his time getting beat—err... hugged to a pulp by Elmyra than he does chasing Sneezer or Sweetie (and some of it's almost justified as he doesn't have a proper home most of the time and doesn't have much available food to hunt).
Also, Sweetie, sociopathic little monster that she is, will usually antagonize Furball until he breaks and chases after her. That said, the show avoids the same Double Standard Tweety was granted, and does show Sweetie as a genuine antagonist on occasion (sometimes, she herself played the bumbling predator against the Book Worm). There were even a few rare occasions Furball got the last laugh on Sweetie.
Chuck Jones' Claude Cat started out as a sympathetic figure (always being exploited and heckled by the wisecracking mouse duo, Hubie and Bertie).
Subverted to Hell and back by Chuck Jones in "Fresh Airedale", where a duplicitous weasel of a dog is treated like a hero while the heroic cat gets no respect, and "Chow Hound", where an enslaved cat is used by a big hulking dog to get a steady supply of meat (in this one, revenge is brutal and sweet).
An early exception to this comes from the Looney Tunes short "We, The Animals... Squeak!", where the mouser cat is the good guy, and the mice are scheming mobsters who blackmail her into letting them have the run of the house by holding her son captive.
In the 1991 European fantasy film, The Princess and the Goblin, Princess Irene was almost always accompanied by her pet cat, Turnip, who is practically a dog in cat form. Played strait with one of the goblins' pets, a demonic looking cat who threatend the princess at one point in her room while she was sleeping (but thwarted by Turnip and his mouse friend).
Subverted and inverted with the mother puma and her kittens in the "Woodland Critters Christmas" episode of South Park. The pumas turn out to be good, while the Christmas Critters, who are Woodland Creatures, turn out to be evil and are raising the Anti Christ.
The Shape Bandit from Team Umizoomi is very clever and tricky when stealing shapes, but not mean. In fact, the reason why he stole all those shapes in the first place is because he wanted to build a house to live Umi City. When that was done, he inverts it altogether by never stealing shapes again.
Averted in 101 Dalmatians by Sgt. Tibbs, who desperately tries to free the puppies from the Badduns after overhearing Cruella's plan.
On the Motormouse And Autocat segment of The Cattanooga Cats, it's Autocat's job at the Spin Your Wheels garage to get rid of Motormouse—which he fails to time and again. But once in awhile after a full day's shift of chasing, Motormouse will give Autocat a lift home.
Doom Kitty from Ruby Gloom who, while occasionally being silentlysnarky, is a friendly and playful cat who actually tries to help Ruby out with problems and tell her (albeit through pantomime) important information she has.
Mr. Mumbles in Dan Vs. is probably the single nicest character in the series. Which is amazing, given who her owner is.
Running counter to the rumor that he hated cats, Walt Disney narrated a short feature called "The Great Cat Family" (part one can be viewed here), detailing the history of the domestic cat (science has since marched on with many of the details presented therein, but it's still an entertaining and informative watch). Cats aren't portrayed as mean or wicked except by fearful villagers during the times of the witch trials, and Walt himself even points out that it wasn't the fault of the cats that they came to be seen as demons.
In Sheriff Callie's Wild West, the titular character is a calico cat who is not only friendly and kind, but gives the townsfolk (and the audience) pro-social lessons on how to get along.