In stories featuring cats and dogs in which the cats are not villainous, they often play second fiddle to the dogs in some way or another.
For example, the dog characters may be more numerous or have a more major individual role in the story. Oftentimes, the cats may have a subservient role to the dogs, like a butler, a lower rank in a team, or a hero's sidekick. Sometimes, the cats have a role that is not subservient to the dogs, like partner, ally, or nonvillainous rival, but still play a more supporting role in the story.
This trope comes in seven types:
- Sidekick: The cat and the dog are heroes, but the dog is the main hero and the cat is the sidekick. Most or all of the plot line revolves around the canine character and the feline character plays a more supporting role.
- Lower Team Rank: In a team or group with dogs and cats in it, the cats rank lower than the dogs.
- Lesser Role: Usually in a work or series of works featuring dogs and cats that are not villainous or dog and cat protagonists, the dogs play a more major or leading role than the cats.
- Servant: The cats are servants or butlers to the dogs.
- Rival: The feline foils are non-villainous rivals to the canine leads.
- Ally: The feline foils are allies or partners to the canine leads without being a sidekick to or having a lower team rank than the dogs.
- Rescuee: The feline foils are helpless and have to be rescued by the heroic dogs.
- More Central Dog Characters: In a series of works in a franchise or by a company or author overall, more of the works have dog leads than cat leads.
- Dog Heavy Cast: In a cast featuring dogs and cats, there are more dogs in the cast than cats or there is only one cat (main protagonist or not) in the cast of characters and every other character is a dog. Naturally occurs with A Cat in a Gang of Dogs.
This trope often occurs in live action movies featuring dogs and cats. There are more live action movies with dogs in lead roles than cats in lead roles. When cats are in live action movies, they tend to be relegated to the Right-Hand Cat role, or simply a Living Prop.
- Beasts of Burden features a largely canine cast. Of the main characters, only two are feline, and one of them is a villain, at least at first. This is lampshaded early on, as the Wise Dogs Society has up until now only had dogs as members, with the Orphan being the first cat ever to be admitted. The feline characters do get a bit more attention as the story progresses, however.
- Disney Animated Canon:
- Disney Animated Canon as a whole has more movies featuring dogs in lead roles than housecats in lead roles. The movies with a dog or dogs in lead and major roles are Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound (with two foxes as well, one being Tod and the other being vixey), and Bolt. The only movies with a cat or cats in a lead role are The Aristocats with feline main characters and two canine secondary characters, and Oliver & Company with a feline protagonist in a gang of dogs.
- Inverted with Alice in Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat is among the major secondary characters and Wonderland residents (along with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and the Caterpillar) and Dinah is Alice's kitten who is the first to notice the White Rabbit, whereas the broom dog in the Tulgey Wood is a very minor character who sweeps out the path.
- If wild cats and wild canids are counted, however, then the numbers become equal, with The Lion King (1994) with lions in the starring roles, and The Jungle Book (1967) with the panther and the tiger in more major roles than the wolves, added to the list.
- 101 Dalmatians: Sergeant Tibbs the heroic cat ranks lower than Colonel the dog. Interestingly, they both rank lower than the horse, Captain. Also, Sergeant Tibbs is a lone cat in a movie with a cast made up mostly of dogs.
- Bolt: Bolt the dog is the main character. Mittens the cat is the eponymous dog's Sidekick.
- Roadside Romeo: The main character is a dog named Romeo. Every other major animal character is a dog except for Mini, who is a cat.
- The Secret Life of Pets: While it mainly focuses on pets in general, most of the lead characters are dogs while only one cat has a major role.
- There are many more live action Disney movies featuring dogs in lead roles than housecats in lead roles. There are four live action movies with a cat or cats in lead roles, The Three Lives of Thomasina, That Darn Cat! and its 1997 remake, and The Cat from Outer Space.
- 1993's Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and the previous 1963 based on the same book have the three animals as equally important, but it has two dogs and one cat.
- Inverted in The Adventures of Milo and Otis. Milo the cat is the main character and Otis the dog is secondary (though still important).
- In Survivors, cats (or "sharpclaws" as they're called) are annoying pests that appear occasionally. Lucky grew up on the streets and sees them as rivals. For most dogs, sharpclaws aren't much of an enemy, but their claws can cause potentially deadly wounds if they become infected. Sharpclaws are not villainous but dogs don't like them.
- Inverted in Garfield: Whenever he and Odie show up together, Garfield the cat is most commonly the hero (or the protagonist, at any rate).
- Footrot Flats: The Dog is the main character, and other significant dogs include Jess, Prince Charles the corgi, Major the pig-dog, and occasionally the Murphys' dogs. There is only one prominent cat, Horse, with the possible exception of occasional apperances from his biker-gang girlfriend.
- Streaky the Supercat is Krypto the Superdog's sidekick. The plot lines of most of the episodes revolve around Krypto and Streaky plays a more supporting role.
- Spot the cat is the sidekick of Hong Kong Phooey, the eponymous anthropomorphic dog. All of the plot lines revolve around the dog and the cat plays a supporting role. However, it's downplayed in that Spot is actually a Hypercompetent Sidekick who is better at being a hero than Hong Kong Phooey himself.
- Classic Disney Shorts
- There are eight characters who had cartoons dedicated to them, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy (an anthropomorphic dog), Pluto (a dog), Chip 'n Dale (two chipmunks), Humphrey (a bear), and Figaro (a kitten). Both Goofy and Pluto the dogs starred in many more cartoons billed to them than Figaro the kitten, who only starred in three cartoons billed to him.
- Two of the Sensational Six members are dogs, whereas none of the members are cats.
- In "Plutopia" and any other Pluto cartoon with Milton the cat in it, Pluto is the main character and Milton is a supporting character. In Pluto's dream in "Plutopia," Milton is basically portrayed as his butler.
- Dudley Puppy the dog and Kitty Katswell the cat in T.U.F.F. Puppy are technically equal partners in a spy team (unusually for this trope, Kitty is the senior partner), but most of the plot line in the show revolves around Dudley and Kitty plays a more supporting role, and the show is named after him.
- In PAW Patrol, the main characters are all heroic puppies and any of the cats that do show up are either helpless and to be rescued, otherwise minor or supporting characters (like Cali), or rivals (like the Kitten Catastrophy Crew).
- In Roobarb the titular character is a dog and the main focus of the series, while Custard the cat only had brief cameos or a passing mention in the first few episodes, rarely even having a speaking role. As time passed, his roles got larger, to the point he became the second most prominent character on the show.
- Inverted In The Houndcats; the Five-Man Band consists of three dogs and two cats, but The Leader is one of the cats.
- Foofur is about a gang of stray dogs and one cat. The cat is The Lancer though.
- In Dog City, nearly all the characters are dogs. The main feline character is Kitty, who's a villain and a sidekick, being the moll to a bulldog gangster. Zig-zagged with her Muppet counterpart, Ms Fluffe, who's the owner of the apartment building, meaning Bugsy's counterpart Bruno works for her and she has some power over everyone else, but who doesn't appear nearly as often as the canine characters.
- Inverted in Unikitty!. Unikitty, a unicorn-cat hybrid, is the title character of the show, while her younger brother Puppycorn, a unicorn-dog hybrid, is a slightly more minor character than her, albiet still a major player in the show.
- The two main characters of Puppy Dog Pals Bingo and Rolly, are puppies while their secondary Cool Big Sis is a cat named Hissy.
- Season 2 introduces a female puppy and new friend to the main duo named Keia.