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Cats Are Superior

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"Cats have a scam going: you buy the food, they eat the food, they fuck off. That's the deal."

Cats are the elves of the animal kingdom. They're better than us — and they know it.

Cats are almost always portrayed as particularly intelligent, cunning, and independent, and in works with any degree of anthropomorphization a cat is likely to be The Chessmaster, a Deadpan Snarker (see also Cool Cat and Cats Are Snarkers), or other Sub-Tropes of The Trickster. Sometimes they are all but stated to be a Superior Species.

On the other hand, cats' perceived negative qualities — such as aloofness, arrogance, smugness, and laziness — might be attributed to their awareness of their exalted position.

This can, but need not, overlap with Cats Are Mean. Superior cats can have a wide range of attitudes toward lesser creatures: showing contempt for them, ignoring them, treating them with amused tolerance, or taking pains to guide and protect them. There's also an overlap between this and Cats Are Lazy, with cats thinking that they should be pampered.

This trope is approached from another direction through the traditional association between cats and magic. Whether Magic Is Evil or benign, it is yet another way for cats to show intelligence and wield power. Is it any wonder that witches have long been associated with them?

This trope is often subverted when dog characters are the main characters of the story or are more major to the story than cat characters.

Compare Panthera Awesome, King of Beasts, Cute Kitten, Cunning Like a Fox. Contrast Dogs Are Dumb.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yoruichi from Bleach falls into this trope. And then you see her true form and it all makes sense.
  • Beerus and his twin brother Champa in Dragon Ball Super. They're Destroyer gods, making them the most powerful formerly mortal beings in their respective universes. There are very few beings in all of existence that even approach their power level. Their vassals and mentors, Whis for Beerus and Vados for Champa, are a bit stronger than each of them. They all answer to Zen'O, the ruler of all creation.
  • Meowth from Pokémon: The Series has commented more than a few times that he thinks of himself as superior to humans.

    Comic Books 
  • This is, somewhat, the whole schtick in Katmandu, as the anthro feline races that inhabit the titular planet are the predominant race in the setting, while the rodents are the other, less predominant one. Oddly enough, most of the Fantastic Racism goes on between the felines (Velites and Hoplites, the first based on domestic cats, while the latter are based on wild felines like tigers, lions, cougars, etc.) rather than against the rodents, except in some isolated cases, and most of those cases involve the rats.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield, perhaps. He's definitely smarter than his human. The cartoon takes it a step further, with cats actually being aliens that "rule" humans in that they get free food and don't have to do anything all day.
  • A story in Mandrake the Magician has Narda, Mandrake's girlfriend, dreamor does she? — that cats are descendants of aliens that got stuck on Earth and used the primitive humans to survive, having lost their technology. (The same applies to dogs — the dog aliens and cat aliens were at war, and the hostility between cats and dogs is a remnant of this.)

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Mal initially assumes that Blake hides her cat ears so people don't get jealous of her feline superiority.
  • Gray Ghost in Manehattan's Lone Guardian has a deeply ingrained cat-like mindset to match a significantly altered biology, to the point that she cheerfully taunts Leviathan before a duel and—when warned not to underestimate her—shrugs it off by calling her "fish sticks".

    Films — Animated 
  • The black cat from Coraline. Snarky, deadpan, aloof, insulting, arrogant — but willing to help in Coraline's time of need and vital to her confrontation with the Other Mother.
  • Disney Animated Canon
    • In The Jungle Book (1967), this is applied to both Shere Khan the tiger and Bagheera the leopard. The former overlaps with Cats Are Mean by being portrayed as Wicked Cultured, whereas the latter subverts Cats Are Mean by making Bagheera still a hero, but of the Deadpan Snarker/Good Is Not Nice variety. Which makes Bagheera meaner than in the original books (seems like a Disney theme to make cats mean). In the source material, Bagheera was the one to spoil Mowgli and be overindulgent with him, while Baloo the bear was the overly strict teacher.
    • The Aristocats has the song "Everybody Wants to Be A Cat", where the cats sing an ode to their species' superiority. The song is a pun on the Jazz term "cat", meaning a hip and swingin' musician.
  • In Isle of Dogs, cats tend to be owned by those in positions of power.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sassy is quite arrogant and condescending to Chance, often talking about how cats are superior to dogs. By contrast, Sassy does show respect toward the wise and grandfatherly Shadow. Her arguments with Chance are more of a Running Gag between the two of them.

  • There's a joke about the difference between cats and dogs:
    Dogs think: Humans care about us, they feed us, treat us when we are ill, and stroke us when we are sad... They are gods for sure!
    Cats think: Humans care about us, they feed us, treat us when we are ill, and stroke us when we are sad... We are gods for sure!
  • "Dogs treat humans like other dogs. Cats treat humans like other dogs also."
  • "Dogs have owners; cats have staff."
  • "Dogs come when called; cats take a number and get back to you."
  • "Dogs eat. Cats dine."
  • Kevin Smith summed it up this way:
    Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are like man's complacent roommate.
  • There is a cartoon titled "Cat Tricks" with identical images of a lazing cat labeled "Sit", "Fetch", "Roll Over", etc, concluding with an image of the cat walking away labelled "Stay".

  • Bravelands:
    • Lions are one of the few animals who don't worship the Great Spirit or respect the Great Parent. As a result, other animals dislike them for being haughty.
    • Subverted with cheetahs. They worship the Great Spirit and generally aren't presented any worse than the other animals.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Catalyst, some cats are powerful energy-based aliens that pose as cats and watch over other sentient beings. Of the three we meet, one attaches herself to the human protagonist, the second is actually evil and has a Villainous Breakdown near the end, and the last is run ragged by the absent-minded plant-like aliens who started everything a long time ago. It is the last that makes the main character somewhat suspicious — how do aliens have house cats?
  • Cat Pack: The cats think cats are superior to other animals. They say that they wouldn't even need owners if they could open their own cans.
  • "The Cat Who Walked By Himself" makes bargains with the first humans where other animals become servants, which makes this trope Older Than Radio.
  • In The Cinder Spires, cats are fully sentient creatures who cohabit the Spires with humans. The chapters narrated by Rowl, Prince of the Silent Paws clan, show them to be incredibly arrogant and selfish, but nonetheless very brave, honourable (albeit with Blue-and-Orange Morality,) and capable of forming strong bonds with humans who earn their affection (though they usually find some way to justify their displays of affection to avoid acknowledging actual care for the lowly humans).
  • Discworld: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Amazing Maurice. He calls himself amazing for a reason.
    • Nanny Ogg's cat Greebo is cunning enough to know he can push things up to a point with his indulgent owner. He is also bright enough to know that Nanny Ogg is a Witch and she has her limits, and that he shouldn't even think it around Granny Weatherwax.
  • A Dog's Purpose: Bailey, the dog protagonist, thinks that cats believe this. He doesn't understand body language and just thinks his owner's cat is a self-important freeloader. After being reincarnated as Ellie and adopted into a home with several cats, her views on cats sway a bit, but she still doesn't like them.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry has a massive 20+ pound cat named Mister. Harry routinely comments on how "above-it-all" Mister holds himself. Upon having Mouse brought into the apartment as a puppy, Mister responded by creating a tradition of swatting him half way across the room with a paw. Since then Mouse has become a very large dog, but Mister sees no reason that should change his treatment of Mouse, and Mouse accepts it.
      • The Sight allows Harry to see the true form of whatever he looks at. Mouse glows with hidden power, his cop friend looks like an angel, monsters look even more hideous...and Mister looks exactly the same as he does when this power is turned off.
      • Mister's continual intimidation of Mouse is made exponentially more impressive over the next few books when it is gradually revealed that Mouse is a total badass powerful enough to be feared/respected by a 2000 year old terrorist and Harry's Faerie Godmother.
    • Cold Days presents Cat Sith, king of the malks, who is ordered by Queen Mab to serve Harry. He is an incredibly dangerous Combat Pragmatist whose shadow is much larger than his already-large form.
  • Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria: Downplayed when Cicero mentions that cats generally have a major flaw about being too prideful.
  • Subverted in The Jungle Book: Bagheera is among the biggest badasses in the jungle (and not afraid to remind people of it), but even he can't stand Mowgli's gaze for more than a few seconds.
  • In the Land of Oz books:
    • Eureka is just as self-centered in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz as in The Number of the Beast, below.
    • The Glass Cat also has this attitude, viewing herself as superior even to regular cats due to her pink brains - "you can see 'em work", and utterly contemptuous of the magician who brought her to life. She's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though, at one point running to get help for her companions as soon as she's sure they can't see her do it.
  • In The Last Unicorn, all cats can talk — they just don't often feel inclined to do so.
    "I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer."
  • Abigail Tucker's non-fiction book, The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, explores the history of this trope from Ancient Egypt to YouTube cat videos.
  • In one of The Lion King: Six New Adventures stories, Nala's cubhood friend Chumvi believes that lions are superior to other animals.
  • Magic Kingdom of Landover: Edgewood Dirk believes felines to inherently superior animals. Of course in his case, he is actually literally a fairy, and in that world, fairies might as well as be Starfish Aliens as well as aware of far more magic, knowledge, and philosophy than mere humans could, so some of this may be justified. Doesn't stop his Smug Snake, Deadpan Snarker, and Holier Than Thou attitude from becoming very annoying sometimes, though. Though Dirk seems to identify himself as a cat first and Faerie second, to the point where any time he tries to explain or justify his attitude, it's always by reminding the person annoyed at him that he is a cat, never that he is a Faerie creature.
  • The Number of the Beast: Eureka the cat has this attitude while eating dinner with Deety, the Cowardly Lion, and the Hungry Tiger.
    Deety: Eureka, do you have Dorothy's permission?
    Eureka: What a silly way to talk. Dorothy must get my permission. Feed me the lobster first, then the shrimp. You may have the last piece of shrimp for yourself. [snip] Ignore these jungle beasts; they are not cats. Be it known that Felis domestica has been civilized more generations than all you lesser breeds combined. As my serene ancestress, Bubastis, Goddess of the Nile, was wont to say: "Where Cat is, is civilization." Hurry up with that lobster. [snip] Scratch behind my left ear — gently. I shall sing, then I shall sleep. Maintain a respectful silence.
  • Redwall: Cats tend to be evil (with a few exceptions) and think considerably more of themselves than the vermin they rule over (especially Ungatt Trunn, A Nazi by Any Other Name). Riggu Felis goes even further by reigning over other cats (he considers that he's superior to them by virtue of being a wildcat, while they're merely feral cats. The fascinating implication of there still being humans to tame cats this late in the series goes unexplored).
  • Tailchaser's Song: Cats believe themselves to be the superior species and the first species that was created by their cat goddess. Humans are deformed cats cursed to serve and worship cats for all of eternity. At worst they're looked down upon with scorn and at best they exist for cats' amusement. Feral cats do fear humans, however they're still seen as beneath them nevertheless.
  • Tomcat Blue Eyes' Diaries: Blue Eyes is a very sweet little tom-cat who usually likes meeting other animals and respects more experienced cats but he is horrified when he meets a dog who belongs to his human's friend. He cannot understand how the dog can be so submissive and so satisfied taking orders. Eventually they become somewhat friendly but still, he's not Blue Eyes' favourite animal.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Song of the Lioness: Faithful (or Pounce) is a very sarcastic companion to his humans, who he adopts largely out of boredom. He has a number of strange magical abilities and isn't above showing off.
    • In The Immortals we meet the goddess of cats, Queenclaw. She's incredibly smug.
  • Warrior Cats: Most cats don't have particularly good views on other species. Even many of the kittypets think twolegs are dull; they rarely even identify them individually or gender them. Dogs are either annoying pests or dangerous brutes, badgers are frightening beasts, and prey animals like mice are dumb and cowardly.
  • The Way of Kings (2021) is a novel about lions. They believe themselves, or at least their original ancestor, to be King of Beasts.
  • The World at the End of Time: Cats became extinct until near the end of the book when a fatal plague affected Newmanhome and nobody could make a cat to wear a gauze mask impregnated with an awful-smelling fungicide — the cat acknowledges no law but its own even if it dies for it.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The goddess Bastet from Egyptian Mythology is an ancient example of this trope. Depicted as a human woman with a cat head, she was a soldier of Ra in his daily battle against Apep. Unlike Set, another soldier of Ra who was increasingly vilified after the New Kingdom period, Bastet retained her role as Ra's guardian and came to be seen as protector of kingship and fertility (because cats can give birth to dozens of kittens every year). The Egyptians built an entire city dedicated to the worship of Bastet, Bubastis. She might have been somewhat conflated with Sekhmet, another soldier of Ra who was depicted as a woman with a lion head and also had a city dedicated to worship her (so that's two cities revolving around felid power!).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Infamously, in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, an average housecat has a better than even chance of winning a fight with an average first level Commoner.
  • This shows up in Pugmire, or rather, in the companion game Monarchies of Mau. Where the dog Code of Honor (the Code of Man) asks the dog to obey a worthy master, the cat code (the Precepts of Mau) asks the cat to always reward loyalty — or, in other words, to be a worthy master. Perhaps not surprisingly, the dog state is a fairly centralised kingdom, while the cat state is a loose confederation that only recently came together. It also shows up in their dominant religions: most dogs believe they were favoured servants of Man/the Old Ones. Cats usually believe the Old Ones were their favoured servants.

  • The finale song of (what else?) Cats is all about the proper way for humans to suck up to cats, as the glorious creatures obviously deserve. Might be slightly tongue-in-cheek; it's hard to tell because of the style of the music.

    Video Games 
  • In Dwarf Fortress, cats are the only animals which you can't control the adoption of. Cats choose their owners, not vice versa; they can even adopt dwarves while the game is paused. You can't go without cats because they're the only creatures that can protect your food stocks from vermin. Thus, the "catsplosion," where cat breeding gets out of control because you can't get rid of pets like you can strays. Kittens, before they adopt make a great food source, however.
  • Seems to be played at first in the ending of Ghost Trick with the cat Sissel being a lot smarter than Missile (a dog), to the point that everybody around him was convinced that he was a human spirit for a whole night. Subverted when Missile is revealed to be The Chessmaster in the end, who outsmarted Sissel on many levels.
  • In Golden Treasure: The Great Green, Slideclaws believe themselves to be perfect, having domesticated the No-Tails, being fed and stroked by them, and seeking only amusement in life. They'll only teach you how to Dream if you bow down to them (an abject humiliation for a mighty Draak-kin).
  • Haunt the House: Terrortown: The Pharaoh, the ghost of highest status, is revealed to have been a cat in life.
  • In Minecraft, Creepers are the bane of any player's existence. But Creepers know better than to mess with cats.
  • Pokémon:
    • A number of cat Pokémon are like this, including Mewtwo for a bit in the anime.
    • Alolan Persian in particular embodies this trope, as they were historically the pets of Alolan royalty and became accustomed to it—after the monarchy fell and the Persian wound up in the wild, they still hold the same attitude to this day.
    • Inverted with Perrserker, who is a Blood Knight and doesn't care about getting its paws dirty—or any other part of its body. They were raised by a seafaring people who engaged in a lot of violence, the Pokémon world's counterpart to the Vikings, and Perrserker hate living a pampered life as they deem it boring. Perrserker very much dislike Alolan Persian and Kantonian Persian, and the hatred is mutual.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Afterlife SMP: In his second life, Jimmy mentions this while bearing the Feline origin, saying if someone has a pet cat, "their house" would in actuality be the cat's house and no long the person's.note  He himself displays that mentality by moving into Joel's house while he was on holiday in real life, meaning he could do nothing about the catboy that moved into his base, while proclaiming himself to be "adopted". Sadly, Joel doesn't react quite as well to this, deciding to build a trap to murder Jimmy via TNT minecarts.
  • This cat is caught by a human, and tries to weasel out.
  • Plonqmas: In "A Plonqmas Tale — 1998" and "A Plonqmas Tale — 1999", Plonq's feline pets are depicted as stereotypically detached, self-absorbed, quarreling, and food obsessed. In other words, typical cats.
  • The blog We Three Cats is allegedly written from the perspective of three housepets, and they often espouse this trope.
    It has been a while since we posted. Not because we have been busy. We have just been being cats, which is the best thing to be.
  • "Why You Need to Stop Touching a Cat's Tummy" is narrated from the viewpoint of a haughty Abyssinian cat.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The ancient Egyptians would worship cats, seeing them as avatars of the goddess Bast/Bastet.
    Terry Pratchett: In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods. They have never forgotten this.
    • Interestingly, feral cats are still very common in Modern Egypt, roaming the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and other Egyptian cities like it's nobody's business. Even more interestingly, while Egyptians don't worship cats anymore (they're mostly Muslim and Christian these days), they tend to treat cats with comparative respect, letting them just live (hey, they eat the garbage that the government's too cheap to provide collection for!). Dogs, for various reasons, do not get the same treatment.
    • In most Muslim countries, cats are considered superior because they were the favorite animal of Muhammad, who owned several. They are considered ritually clean, and allowed to enter mosques. Dogs get a negative rap because many Muslim clerics believe they're suitable only for hunting, not as pets and dogs, especially black dogs, scared Muhammad (they're often considered unclean). Many striped or tabby cats have three black streaks on their head, and there's a (though fairly obscure) Muslim legend that when Muhammad petted his favorite cat, three of his fingerprints stayed on her head and those of her descendants to mark their favored status. It's highly unlikely that all the cats with that marking are descended from one cat, but it's a good story. In another story, Muhammad is said to have cut the sleeve off a favorite robe that he was wearing rather than risk disturbing the cat who was sleeping on it.
    • There is a Christian legend that there was a tabby cat in the stable on the first Christmas, and it snuggled up to the Baby Jesus to keep him warm. The Blessed Mother placed her initials on the cat's forehead as a mark of her favor.
  • As one episode of The Dog Whisperer showed, there's a reason for this trope. One couple owned two fairly large and very vicious dogs that attacked each other and others nearby. Who was the only one they listened to? The cat.
  • Winston Churchill, in explaining his fondness for pigs, observed, "Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
  • The introduction of cats from Eurasia into the Americas 18.5 million years ago is thought to have drastically decreased the biodiversity of dogs, according to researchers. It is thought that competition from cats caused up to 40 species of dog to become extinct in the region millions of years ago. As competition became fierce between the native canids and newly introduced felids, researchers noticed the dogs of North America increased body size, becoming larger predators — some of them exceeded 66 pounds. While the ancient dogs dwindled and were forced to adapt, the cats of the time suffered little in their transition, indicating that they were more efficient predators. Scientists usually expect climate changes to play an overwhelming role in the evolution of biodiversity. Instead, competition among different carnivore species proved to be even more important for canids.
  • The popular stereotype that cats are (much) smarter than dogs, their classical archenemies in fiction, is actually a difficult affair. In 2017, a studio published in Frontiers of Neuroanatomy showed that cats have "only" 250 million neurons in their brains, much less than the 530 million dogs have, which theoretically would make for less powerful brains for the felines. However, in the same ranking long finned pilot whales beat us humans in number of neurons, which means this doesn't necessarily prove cats are dumber than dogs. Measuring animal intelligence in experimental conditions is particularly difficult with cats because they don't easily pledge to the scientists' commands (in marked contrast to dogs, which are social animals that happily obey whoever they perceive as their masters), and thus getting them to show quantifiably their problem-solving skills is just as arduous as getting them to do any non-free will action in daily life. Cats also display a surprising amount of individual variation and personalities, which makes it even hard to find a veritable measure of their ethological intelligence. All of this said, it has been found that whenever they comply in experimental conditions, cats do tend to try more strategies and solutions on their own account than dogs, which often resort to just stare back to their human handlers in the hopes of receiving help if facing an apparently unsolvable situation. It can be concluded that, smarter or dumber, cats ultimately seek to act by themselves and for themselves in comparison to other species.
  • Study of actual living felids suggests that they can regard the notion that you can't reproduce outside your species as quaintly provincial. For felids in general, species in the same Genus and of compatible sizes are more likely than not to be cross-fertile, and quite frequently the offspring are also fertile, unlike mules, which are another mammalian cross-species hybrid (half horsed and half assed/donkeyed), but are generally sterile. There are still fertility issues and male ligers are still generally sterile. Some exotic pet cat breeds are the result of crosses with smaller wild felines, such as servals, Asian leopard cats, jungle cats, and even sand cats.
  • This is not just for interspecies breeding regarding cats. Cats are also not opposed to outbreeding the way humans are and are more vehemently opposed to inbreeding and incest than humans. Although Homo sapiens interbred with Homo neaderthalensis a big back when both were around, one of the reasons why the latter went extinct was because they inbred, and Homo sapiens since the agricultural revolutions (one in the Middle East, one in China, and one in the Andes) is not much better. The entire human population living today is descended from an astonishingly small population of Homo sapiens that lived 75,000 years ago, when fewer than 10,000 individuals (perhaps as low as 2,000) survived a supervolcano eruption in Sumatra. Inbreeding tends to be the trend for human royal families and there were times in history when humans criminalized racial mixing. Humans also foist their incestuous ways onto other species, especially onto domesticated animals like dogs and cultivated plants like bananas and crop plants. This is so bad with Cavendish bananas that they are clones of each other. Wildcats (Felis silvestris), on the other hand, happily breed between subspecies. Mother cats also have their male kittens set off to a different area to mate so as to prevent incest from occurring.
  • Depending on your source, there are 6-8 criteria that animals must meet to be domesticated by humans. Cats do not meet the criteria. First of all, they're obligate carnivores, which makes them relatively difficult to feed — you can't feed them pretty much anything you have lying around like you can dogs, pigs, or donkeys. Second, and more importantly, they're not pack/herd animals who live in hierarchical groups and thus know how to take orders and can be taught to see humans as the proverbial leader. While humans domesticated dogs long before the agricultural revolution and have since created many new dog breeds, cats are genetically still the same as their ancestors thousands of years ago. Not only did humans not intentionally breed cats the way they did dogs, but cats didn't start living with humans until long after the agricultural revolution. Cats were never intentionally captured, raised, and bred by humans to serve an intended purpose — they simply began hanging out around human settlements to feast on the booming rodent populations therein and convinced the residents it was in humans' best interest to welcome them and their free pest control by providing them warmth and shelter. Cats truly aren't and never were pets the way dogs, fish, rabbits, etc. are — since cats initiated the partnership, it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to say that cats made humans their pets. How's that for superior?
    • Recent archaeological studies however seems to call this into question as a Neolithic site dating back to 7500 BC and on an otherwise cat-less island nonetheless featured a grave with a human and a cat buried together, indicating that cats were actively brought there and suggesting that the Cat-Human partnership is much older than Ancient Egypt.
  • If nothing else... a female dog is called a "bitch". A female cat is called a "queen".
  • According to Stephen King, cats are the “amoral gunslingers of the animal world”.
  • One common factoid is that cats rub their faces against objects to mark their territory, which is true. This then leads to the idea that cats rub on their owners because they think they own them. The truth may be up to interpretation, as cats also rub faces with other cats as a friendly greeting and to create a shared smell for the colony. So, cats doing this to a human either think they own the human or, more charitably, they think the human is part of their colony.