Walking, talking, purring
class. She doesn't steal; she liberates. She doesn't lie; she fibs. She steals from the rich and keeps it all for herself, but she's so graceful and easy on the eyes that you'll let it slide.
When The Hero
first meets her, on a rooftop or a darkened bedroom, he'll be paralyzed with indecision — should he arrest her or ask for her number? This dilemma is usually short, as she takes advantage of his distraction to escape/knock him out.
Bonus points if she has a cat theme, is named "Katherine," "Kitty," or "Felicia," or makes bad feline puns.
She doesn't always wear a Spy Catsuit
, but if she does she wears it well.
Either way, Classy Cat Burglars are sophisticated and highly skilled. They target only the finest items (and best-protected) for "liberation", and pride themselves on leaving little or no clue on how they accomplished their burglaries. A fair number of them are independently wealthy and couldn't care less about the money; they just want a good challenge. (Genre Savvy
detectives understand that a well-guarded, priceless item is the best bait in the world for these sleek critters). The actual term "cat burglar" comes from the notion that such a person is quiet as a cat (one that never claws its way up the drapes, gets into fights with the dog and tears your refrigerator to bits
Like her spear counterpart
the Gentleman Thief
, this felonious feline usually regards the police with a certain amount of disdain and condescension, and frequently leaves behind "calling cards"
announcing who performed the crime. With a Worthy Opponent
, she may have a less adversarial relationship, verging at times on friendship (and if the opponent is of the opposite gender
, fraught with UST
Compare Phantom Thief
. If the hero is very, very (un?)lucky, may result in Dating Catwoman
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Anime and Manga
- Psiren in the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist. Additionally, she has to pull down a zipper on her suit to reveal her transmutation circle just above her chest. Note that her actions are praised by the locals as the place that the episode takes place in is doomed and all the publicity is revitalizing the town.
- Lupin III: Fujiko is an international jewel thief and a seductress, who's made interpol's most wanted list. Though her character has undergone multiple iterations, she's usually portrayed as Lupin's female counterpart, which has naturally placed them at odds with each other. Though they've teamed up just as often and, on occasion, they've even been lovers. She eventually got her own series to showcase her skills: Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
- Train Heartnet from the anime Black Cat is an assassin and a rare male example of a criminal with a cat theme. The series title is his alias and he shamelessly sports a fluttering black cloak and a bell on a red string as a necklace.
- Also Rinslet, who doesn't have a cat theme but definitely fits all of the main requirements.
- Chiko in The Daughter of Twenty Faces is one of these in training. She tends to sometimes cross into action girl territory, though.
- The Major pretends to be one of these in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "Cash Eye", in homage to the above Cat's Eye, leaving a similar calling card. The faked heist itself is pure Oceans Eleven.
- Nami of One Piece would probably qualify, though she has no cat theme beyond her Red Baron title and Word of God stating that the animal she most resembles is a cat.
- Meimi's mother, Eimi, from the series Kaitou Saint Tail used to be a thief named Fallen Angel who fit this trope rather well. Her daughter, on the other hand, is more the Robin Hood type.
- The very efficient thief and Master of Disguise Masami Hirota (or better said, Akemi Miyano) in Detective Conan is very beautiful and looks really pretty whether dressed in red or in white, but she's less traditionally fanservicey than many examples of this trope. Also unlike others, she didn't act on her own will, but as a member of a local evil organization. And when she tried to leave... they killed her.
- Catwoman is perhaps the ultimate incarnation of this trope.
- Felicia Hardy, Marvel's Black Cat, also plays up this theme.
- Maggie the Cat from Jon Sable, Freelance.
- The Fox from Wanted. Actually a subversion, in that while she appears classy, her personality is very trashy and uncouth.
- The Blonde, star of series of erotic comics by Italian artist Franco Saudelli.
- In Adèle Blanc-Sec: Le Mystère des profondeurs, Georgette Chevillard, who wears a skin-tight black costume that shows off her matronly bulginess, is a parody of this trope.
- Kitsune in Usagi Yojimbo. Also her apprentice Kiyoko (who happens to be a cat).
- The Mink from Squadron Supreme.
Film - Animation
Film - Live Action
- Danielle (Brigitte Auber) in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, complete with cat theme.
- A decade later, Hitchcock directed Marnie, which is told from the point of view of the Classy Cat-Burglar (Tippi Hedren).
- Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in Entrapment.
- Maggie Cheung turns into one for a night in Irma Vep.
- Which is based off of a French silent film serial called Les Vampyres. The Character of Irma Vep may be the Ur Example.
- A minor version in When Brendan Met Trudy. Trudy is attractive, initially mysterious and seems a capable enough thief, but she is also extremely uncouth, working class and definitely in it for the money.
- Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) in The Dark Knight Rises.
- Yenicall likes to think she is this in The Thieves, but she is probably a little too trashy to qualify.
- Although she is also a Barbarian Hero(ine), Conina from Discworld's Sourcery is a good example of it.
- Keira the Thief in the Dragaera novels; she's one of the most talented thieves in the Jhereg crime syndicate, to the point where any unsolved burglaries are usually attributed to her, and she's polite and classy when speaking to others. She also has no need of wealth, as she is the immortal sorceress Sethra Lavode, who took up the guise in order to gain intelligence on the syndicate and kept it up when she discovered that committing the thefts without using her powers gave her the first real challenge she'd had in tens of thousands of years.
- Sandra Paris, a.k.a. the White Queen, Nick's sometimes rival in the Nick Velvet short stories of Edward D. Hoch.
- Kat from Heist Society by Ally Carter is actually named after this trope. The author was inspired by the phrase and decided to write a book about a burglar that was actually a "Kat." Kat mainly steals expensive paintings that are under high security. She also has that moment where all the male characters get distracted from their heist because she looks so drop dead gorgeous.
- Though her cousin, Gabrielle, probably plays this trope straighter than Kat.
- Kitai in the second book of Codex Alera.
- The In Death series: Magdalana is presented as this in Innocent in Death. However, it gets subverted when it's revealed that she is a thief and not as classy as she pretends to be, with Roarke pretty much saying so to her face.
- In Void Moon Cassie fits this role, but is a slightly more realistic version of this character in that she doesn't pull impossible heists, instead focusing on much smaller targets. She and her partner robbed high rollers at a casino before being caught and having her partner killed.
- Red Hot and Reckless, a Harlequin Temptations Romance Novel that is the 3rd in a series called "The Bad Girls Club". The lead heroine is Nicole Bennett, a very sexy and clever thief, who often wears leather, and there's lots of sexual tension with a former cop named Alex.
- Libby Craddock from Texas Kidnappers by J.T. Edson. Her exact level of classiness depends upon her mood.
- Tracy in Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes becomes one after overcoming a Trauma Conga Line that leaves her unable to find legitimate work. She works for an employer who assigns her to targets that range from Jerkass to outright corrupt, and besides the usual cat burglar hijinks uses her talents as a Master of Disguise to snooker unsuspecting targets, to the point that Interpol thinks her work is that of an all-girl gang. Her romantic interest? A rival Gentleman Thief!
- Female Mistborn tend to have elements of this, due to mostly be noblewomen in a Deadly Decadent Court. The males, of course, fall under Gentleman Thief instead.
Live Action TV
- Gwen Raiden in Angel gets bonus points for pure class and a ''shocking'' personality.
- Amanda from Highlander: The Series and Highlander: The Raven.
- Bela from Supernatural Season 3.
- Doctor Who:
- In a slight subversion, The Unicorn from the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp" becomes a lot less classy when she's exposed.
- Played straight with Lady Christina de Souza in Planet of the Dead, whose class derives from the fact that she is an English aristocrat.
- River Song (Alex Kingston) wears a black bodysuit◊ when she breaks into the museum in "The Pandorica Opens."
- Vala Mal Doran of Stargate SG-1 was something of a failed cat burglar. In addition to failing to steal the Prometheus and a Goa'uld Naquadah bomb, she fails to seduce Daniel Jackson. Repeatedly. And Lt. Col. Mitchell. And Teal'c. But mostly Daniel. Even getting to the point of possibly stealing a gigantic well-defended armed and heavily populated ship single-handedly is pretty damn cool. If she'd chosen anyone besides Daniel to tie up she probably would have made it. Plus, as she points out, the Goa'uld Naquadah bomb was inside alien technology she'd never seen before and...well...she rushed it. And she did eventually seduce Daniel, and discovered he was resisting before because he thought she wasn't as interested in him as he was in her. Plus she's played by Claudia Black, so she's gorgeous.
- Subverted in Firefly, when Saffron tries this act on Mal. It fails.
- The "Taffy" imprint in the Dollhouse episode "Gray Hour," first in Echo and then in Sierra (who helps rescue Echo after she gets mindwiped by cell phone).
- Yves Adele Harlow from The Lone Gunmen.
- Max from Dark Angel fits this role when she tries to steal from Logan. In what has to be a Shout-Out to Catwoman, she goes after a statue of Bast and even explains its significance.
- Parker from Leverage stole the Hope Diamond and put it back because she was bored. She's not entirely classy, though.
- Marian from Robin Hood dresses up as the Night Watchman in order to steal from the rich and give to the poor, years before Robin himself was doing it.
- Abby in the 2011 series of Charlie's Angels.
- The Castle ep "Eye of the Beholder" gives us a "reformed" one in Serena Kaye (note the nominal resemblance to Selina Kyle).
- Katherine "Kat" Hillard of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was more of a Mind Controlled Mole than thief when she first appeared, but besides transforming into a cat and a cat monster, she was pretty classy.
- Hustle: Stacey certainly adopts this persona when the gang set out to "steal" the priceless Star of India. Tight black clothing used, of course.
- The jewel thief from the Pink Panther pinball (a loose adaptation of The Return of the Pink Panther).
- Goldshot, Angela's character in Fandible's Rotted Capes game. Former supervillain cat burglar, before the zombie apocalypse rendered ostrich-egg-sized jewels and antique objets d'art worthless. Now, she fights for survival and ersatz cocktail parties. Master archer and equestrienne. Her costume was designed by Vera Wang.
- The short-lived musical Drat The Cat! is about a debutante who becomes a cat burglar for the thrill.
- Averted with "Macavity the Mystery Cat" in Cats. His introduction provides the page quote for Gentleman Thief but on stage he is just a rambunctuous bully.
- Bob the Angry Flower sets a cunning trap for the Beautiful International Diamond Thief◊ so he can choose the second of the options listed. He just wants to try Dating Catwoman.
- In Casey and Andy, it is eventually revealed that next door neighbor Jen is an internationally known jewel thief, and this is why Quantum Cop won't date her. It turns out that clues about this go back for years.
- Mrs. Flavors from the conspiracy arc of The Illustrated Guide To Law.
- Gets even better when they all get arrested. The FBI agent who's interrogating her says, "Broke out of jail again, did you? You are amazing....The way I see it, everyone else was just your backup. You're the star of this show."
- The central character of Bandette is this, although as the comic is aimed at a young female audience she's much less sexualised than most examples.
...wait... "tears your refrigerator to bits"?