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Cats Have Nine Lives

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Image by kilskerry. Used with permission.

"A Cat in despondency sighed
And resolved to commit suicide
She passed under the wheels
Of eight automobiles
And under the ninth one she died"

Cats having nine lives is an old wives' tale referring to cats' uncanny survival skills. The number of lives for a cat depends though. While in most countries the cat is said to have nine lives, in Arab and Turkish proverbs poor puss has a mere seven lucky lives (something that was then inherited by countries that were invaded by Muslims at some point, like Spain) and in Russia, is said to survive nine deaths (ergo, ten lives).

Why cats are often depicted having nine lives can be explained by the fact that during the ancient times, the number nine was considered a mystical and lucky number, the sum total of the "trinity of trinities", also being due to their associations with magic and their tendency to survive considerable falls—due to what's called a "righting reflex"—and their noted agility seen when they dodge death. In popular culture, though, the expression is used more literally. In many, many cartoons this gets visualised by also showing nine souls flying around (with their corresponding number written on them) making cats souls look more special by being part of a united entity. Sometimes the expression is also taken to mean that cats reincarnate nine times before their souls finally move on to the afterlife. Cats will often be seen dying many spectacular deaths until only one life remains.

Related to Cats Are Magic.


    open/close all folders 

  • 9 Lives cat food, with commercials featuring its mascot Morris the Cat.
  • Claude the Cat has the titular cat warn humans that unlike him, we only have one life.
  • Eveready batteries use a black cat as their mascot, jumping through the number 9 to signify that their batteries last longer than the competition.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Ancient Magus' Bride mentions cats having nine lives. With each new life, a cat gets smarter and smarter, gaining the ability to speak and perform magic. The King of Cats has a spell that requires the sacrifice of a life to maintain the seal on an area of Unholy Ground.
  • Digimon: In the English dub of Digimon Adventure and 02, Gatomon makes several references to having nine lives.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
  • Soul Eater: Blair has her soul eaten by the protagonists. She survives and explains it by saying "Do you know how many souls cats have?" In a later chapter, she's stuck inside a massive pressure cooker in the Flying Duchman's Nidhogg Factory, supposed to be hot enough to melt down a soul. When she shows up on a subsequent page without a scratch after the process, the only explanation she offers is "because I'm Blair".
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: In the 4Kids dub, Mew Zoey's powers include nine lives, apparently. This might have been foreshadowing for the Grand Finale; since they lost the license, we'll never know.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The card Nine Lives depicts a housecat surrounded by clouds in the shape of other felines like lions and tigers, and its effect references the trope. It is an enchantment that cannot be targeted by your opponents' spells or abilities, and will prevent any damage dealt to you up to nine times. However, it will exile itself after the ninth time and you automatically lose if it leaves the battlefield.
  • Star Trek Customizable Card Game: The personnel card for Spot (Data's pet cat) gave Spot nine lives. This, in addition to Spot's other abilities, made Spot a Lethal Joke Character.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Batman:
      • Batman Beyond: The daughter of the Firestorm villain Multiplex becomes the new Catwoman. The "nine lives" concept is how she ties her Me's a Crowd powers into the cat theme.
      • Catman was for some time absolutely convinced that his cape would give him nine lives. Although others don't believe it, he's known for an uncanny knack for surviving the unsurvivable.
      • Catwoman: Selina sometimes refers to nine lives when she narrowly dodges death.
    • Justice Society of America: Wildcat possesses the ability to return from the dead, a total of nine times. These "nine lives" are characteristic of the mythical properties of average house cats. Ted apparently acquired this power when the magician Zatara altered a curse placed on him by the villain King Inferno. He at one point believed he had used up all nine lives, but (in a Retcon) the sorcerer Mordru (while disguised as Doctor Fate) later informed him that he always has nine lives unless he is killed nine times in a single "cycle".
  • EC Comics: "Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone!" (The Haunt of Fear #21) has a doctor discover that a cat does have nine lives thanks to a special gland, and that he can transfer it into a human. He performs the process on a man, and they then go into show business. (Cause you know, that's the only possible use for it.) The man becomes "Ulric the Undying", and does things like leaping over Niagara Falls and getting the electric chair. For his grand finale (his eighth life) he'll be sealed into a coffin and buried alive for three hours. As he lies there, he reflects on the whole experience... and then realizes that the process of transferring the gland also killed the cat... which means that gland only gave him eight lives.
  • Flight: One story shows a cat frolicking around and being followed around by what appear to be a bunch of ghostly kitties. When the cat misses a step and falls to its death, it's revealed the ghost cats are actually his previous used-up lives. In an interesting variation, the previous lives actually do something to help bring him back to life, one filling his air with lungs, another mending his broken bones, with even one just smoothing out his rumpled fur. The story ends with the cat waking back up and continuing on his merry way, his lives still following him.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios): Finster creates a monster that seems to combine this trope with the classical hydra: a nine-headed cat creature that can regenerate as long as its heads are intact, meaning the Power Rangers have to cut off all nine heads in order to put it down for good. They even lampshade it by outright treating the monster as if it had nine lives and ticking them off each time they eliminate a head.
  • Thorgal: One of Frigg's winged cats gets killed in battle and later returns unharmed, invoking this trope upon its second appearance.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Lampshaded by Black Cat. When she turns up alive again Spider-Man asks how and she responds with "I could make a 'cats have nine lives' joke, but frankly it's beneath me."
  • Weird War Tales: One comic had a story where a soldier rescues a cat, at which point a mysterious wizened figure tells him he's been gifted nine lives by the cat. He disbelieves at first but right afterwards he survives an event that should have killed him. He then promptly starts wasting his "extra" lives in foolhardy heroic stunts in hopes to look good. Soon he's down to one life again and decides to stop wasting them, only to heroically sacrifice himself to save some innocents. At that point, we see a cat bound away from the crater left by the grenade he smothered and the mysterious figure appears again. The soldier is told he's been granted one last gift due to his selflessness — he becomes a cat.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series: Referenced, and extended to big cats, when Hobbes mentions having lost five of his own lives.
    Hobbes: Yeah, I already lost five of my nine lives on that trip.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Aristocats:
    • Edgar, a Big Bad of a butler, decides to abandon the cats in the countryside in the first place because he figures that since they have nine lives, he will not live long enough to inherit Madame's fortune from them.
    • Duchess mentions that Thomas O'Malley could have lost his life stopping the milk truck, and he wryly comments that he has "a few to spare".
    • Roquefort, having been told by O'Malley to get help from Scat Cat's gang of alley cats while he goes to confront Edgar (a dangerous task, considering Roquefort is a mouse), complains that while O'Malley has nine lives, he only has one.
  • The Cat Came Back: At the end, Old Mr. Johnson accidentally blows himself up while trying to get rid of the titular cat. His ghost laughs at it due to being free from its torment — only for his own falling body to squish it flat, causing nine cat ghosts, each with numbered robes, to emerge from under his corpse. They then proceed to chase Mr. Johnson off into the sky while he screams in terror the whole way, presumably to continue pestering him for the rest of eternity.
  • DC League of Super-Pets: After Whiskers the kitten is caught in an explosion, she is heard cheerfully commenting "Still got eight lives left!" It still seems to count as a defeat though, since Whiskers stops trying to kill the others and more or less retires from the film after that.
  • Ice Age: This comes up in regard to the Smilodon characters in a few occasions.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish deconstructs this trope, as Puss having nine lives resulted in him having a very lax attitude towards his own mortality and enabling a lot of very reckless behavior. It got to the point that he didn't even realize he was down to his last life until a doctor forced the issue and showing no value towards his lives convinced Death itselfnote  that he didn't deserve to have his last one. By the end of the movie, Puss had come to accept his inevitable fate and now strives to make the most out of his remaining time.
    • At the start of the film, we get to see Puss' first seven lives in a Death Montage (he loses his eigth in the prologue); the previous eight are shown as separate entities from Puss later in the film who he interacts with, until Death kills them all off for good.
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat: We only see four or five lives, though. And it's probably all supposed to be a hallucination... or something...
  • Rugrats Go Wild!: At one point, Spike mutters "cats... they got nine lives! While dogs have to cram seven years into one! Now THAT bites!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Returns: Tim Burton takes it literally — Catwoman takes eight occasions when she should have died. These include three considerable falls that would likely have killed a normal person, four bullets that should have seen her bleeding to death and a massive self-inflicted massive electric shock that was fatal for the other person involved. Burton blurred the lines with a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane approach.
  • The Batman (2022): Referenced when Batman implores Selina Kyle (the soon-to-be Catwoman) not to throw her life away by committing murder. She says she'll be fine because she has nine of them.
  • In Enter the Dragon, the Big Bad challenges Mr. Roper, one of the competitors in the tournament, to pull the cord on a guillotine with a cat's neck in said guillotine. Instead, Roper picks the cat up and says, "Now you've got eight left."
  • Referred to at a couple of points in Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties. After being locked in a dungeon by Lord Dargis and left to die, Garfield counts out how many lives he's used up and decides he has enough left to survive his current predicament. Later, when Dargis finally realises that there are two identical cats, Garfield quips, "For those of you keeping score at home, that's eighteen lives" (which isn't entirely accurate, given his earlier statement about having lost some of them).
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Sassy references the idea after barely surviving going over a waterfall:
    Sassy: "Was that my sixth life? Meh, I'll just say it was my fourth."
  • In Madhouse (1990), the sister-in-law's cat literally has nine lives. She loses four of them over the course of the movie (drowned in an aquarium, run over by a car, blown up, and finally an accidental cocaine overdose). Each time, it would come back usually seconds after being buried.
  • Nine Lives (2016): Kevin Spacey gets trapped inside a cat's body and has to make up for his past mistakes within a week.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In The Movie Grand Finale, Mr. Boynton wishes to tell Mrs. Davis something in "the strictest confidence. He finally wants to propose to Miss Brooks. Thus prompted, Mrs. Davis sends her cat Minerva out of the back door. The conversation over, Mrs. Davis allows Minerva back inside. Mrs. Davis remarks to Boynton that she bets Minerva would "give eight of her nine lives to know what it was all about."
  • In That Darn Cat!, after the cat steals Gregory Benson's freshly-butchered duck from where he left it to hang in his back yard, he threatens to give the cat "a pants full of buckshot! Nine times if necessary!"
  • Thirteen Days: Alluded to by Adlai Stevenson when he says "I'm an old political cat... but I've still got one life left."
  • The Three Lives of Thomasina: The titular cat resuscitates after being gravely injured and then euthanized by her young owner Mary's veterinarian father. She wakes up with no memory of her past and starts a new life with a new owner, Lori, only regaining her memories near the end. She only goes through two lives in the movie, though — the third one is a metaphor for her life with her new family after Mary's father and Lori get married.

  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Maurice not only has nine lives, he haggles with Death over them. He dies from wounds inflicted while taking out Spider the Rat King, and meets Death who comes to take away one of his lives and the life of Dangerous Beans, one of the talking rats who had also been killed in the struggle. Maurice asks him to take away two of his lives, instead. Death decides that, since he'll be leaving with two lives anyway, he does as Maurice asks.
  • Captain Beaky and His Band: One poem is about the ghost of a ginger cat (in plimsoles and a paper hat) describing how he lost all nine lives.
  • Chrestomanci:
    • Charmed Life: Referenced: the main character has nine lives, so his nickname is Cat.
    • The Lives of Christopher Chant introduces a breed of cats that literally have nine lives.
  • Comet's Nine Lives by Jan Brett is a children's book about a cat in Nantucket who uses up eight of his nine lives in various ways.
  • Lampshaded in the Sven Hassel novel Court Martial. The protagonists have to get rid of a troublesome Gestapo agent who's blackmailing them. After a number of unsuccessful attempts have landed the Gestapo agent in hospital, Porta and the others decide to pay a friendly visit with a wildcat in a cage.
    Porta: As you know, cats have nine lives. And after what you've been through, you seem almost as immortal! So we're going to do a scientific study: cat vs. man!
  • Fablehaven: In the second book, the guardian of an ancient artifact is a cat that must be killed nine times. Each of its incarnations is more deadly than the last.
  • Feline Wizards: Cats have nine lives via a form of reincarnation where they keep some but not all of their memories. Occasionally, they'll get a tenth one.
  • Goosebumps: In Cry of the Cat, an evil cat has been given nine lives by an experiment, but is still vengefully annoyed when the protagonist accidentally costs him one of them. It can also replenish lost lives by taking them from others, turning them into cats in the process.
  • Liavek: In "The Green Cat", a suicidally-inclined girl is in possession of a cat, and cannot honorably die and leave the cat uncared for. She resolves to have her luck (a sort of natural magic) bound to the cat, which means she will die when the cat does. But the magician who does it binds her luck to the cat, not the cat's body, and cats in this universe prove to have nine incarnations...
  • Majyk By Accident: Scandal, the wizard's talking cat offsider. In one of the books he also loses half a life, the other half of which gets returned in the form of a kitten.
  • In The Marvelous Land of Oz, the Wobblebug claims that tailors are like cats, in that they also have nine lives, which is how he got his fine clothing. He saved the ninth life of a tailor, who in gratitude, made the clothes for him free of charge.
  • The Nine Lives of Chloe King: This is one of Chloe's powers as the reincarnated princess of a race of cat people. In the first three books, she loses three of her lives. And then the series got cancelled.
  • The Nine Lives of Romeo Crumb takes this quite seriously; if a cat is left in near-death condition for too long, it can lose up to and including all of its lives at once.
  • October Daye: One of the boons of being the local King or Queen of Cats is more than one life, but not as many as nine. Tybalt doesn't share the exact number.
  • Prospero's Daughter: A cat describes the Eleusian rites as trying to find the secrets of cats. Which is to say, cats can be reborn nine times without drinking from Lethe. (They figure if you blow it nine times, you had best start over with a clear slate.)
  • Ramona Quimby: Ramona Forever mentions the "reincarnation" version of this belief when the Quimbys' cat Picky-Picky dies. After they bury him, Ramona tells Beezus that tomorrow he'll wake up as someone else's kitten.
  • Rotten Ralph: The book The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph involved Ralph learning that he's lost eight of his nine lives and his owner Sarah worrying about his safety now that he only has one life left.
  • Six Lives of Fankle the Cat by George Mackay Brown uses the "reincarnation" version.
  • Tide Lords: Felines (anthropomorphic cats) don't have nine lives, but their immortal masters can resurrect them if they die. The actual limit depends on the severity of the wounds and the individual feline; none of the immortals are sure where everyone else got the number nine.
  • Warrior Cats features a variation: only Clan leaders have nine lives, which they receive from their ancestors on ascending to the position. And there are still instances in which a Clan leader can lose multiple lives from a single injury, sometimes even all nine (which actually once happened to Tigerstar). It's been made a little bit more complex than just being given nine lives. Whether or not lives are simply subtracted or not given at all is a matter of circumstances.
  • Jack Prelutsky's poem "An Alley Cat with One Life Left" concerns a cat down to his last life. He lost his first in a fight with another cat; his second was lost to food poisoning; his third after being hit by a garbage truck ("I noticed it too late"); a lion took his fourth life after he wandered into their cage at the zoo; a ton of bricks fell on him, costing him his fifth life; his sixth was lost after falling from a windowsill; a Saint Bernard took his seventh; and his eighth was lost after he fell in a lake (he couldn't swim).
    So now I'd better watch my step,
    I'm down to number 9.
    I'm an alley cat with one life left
    And glad that life is mine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966): In one episode, Batman and Robin watch Catwoman fall into a chasm. Later they are wondering if she survived and Batman comments, "Cats are said to have nine lives." It's revealed she did. The villain appeared in exactly nine two-part episodes of the show, and each defeat (which usually meant an arrest) resulted in her symbolically losing one. Although she never truly died, the ninth time was considered her final defeat, as far as the show was concerned.
  • Charmed (1998): The main characters have to deal with a cat-turned-warlock who becomes more powerful each time he's killed; his ultimate goal is to be killed nine times, which he figures will make him immortal. To defeat him, he has to feel the pain of all his nine deaths at once.
  • The Chaser's War On Everything: A sketch is done about Cats being turned into a gritty dramatic film about working class cats reminiscent of Billy Elliot and Trainspotting in response to the former being turned into a "toe-tapping musical". "The police shot Gerald!" "But he's got nine lives..." "They shot him nine times!"
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has one episode where Dennis adopts a junkyard cat that was nursed on gasoline. It ends up in a car explosion but walks away unscathed. The nine lives thing isn't brought up, the Gang just assumes the cat is that tough.
  • Mongrels: In episode two, Marion has used almost all his nine lives (in tragically amusing ways, including Death killing him by accident) and is desperate to survive one more day to complete the Jailbait Wait so he can make love to the kitten he has fallen for. Naturally this is easier said than done.
  • Red Dwarf: In the pilot of one of the attempts for an American remake, the Cat is turned into a female, fearless warrior with nine lives.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In one episode, Salem learns that he has nine lives rather than six, and so he decides to do dangerous acts like eat poisoned sushi. At the end, he finds out that he has only one life left and freaks out.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "Dig that Cat... He's Real Gone", a cat's gland is implanted into the brain of a homeless man named Ulric, giving him eight chances to cheat death. He soon gets greedy and uses his newly found gift for profit by becoming a top carnival act. On his seventh life, Ulric is buried alive for a circus act, confident that he will have one life left. However, as he thinks about his successes, he comes to the realization that the cat that was used to give him his nine lives died after the experiment, meaning he only had eight lives instead of nine. Cut to his men shoveling the last pile of dirt onto his coffin, unable to hear Ulric's screams of terror down below.
  • Viz Top Tips with Reeves & Mortimer plays this for Black Comedy. In the pets segment of this VHS compilation, Bob gives a tip for working out how many lives a cat has left, which is to take a mallet, and strike the cat repeatedly with it. The number of strikes needed to bring about the cat's demise(or death) will directly correspond to their remaining lives. Bob then walks off-screen, and we hear the sound of the mallet's strikes, each accompanied by a meowing sound, as Vic counts up the number of times this happens. After he reaches seven, Bob returns with the mallet covered in fur, as Vic concludes that the cat had seven lives left.

  • The song "The Ginger Cat" on the album Captain Beaky & His Band (Not Forgetting Hissing Sid!!!) by Jeremy Lloyd (and friends) has the eponymous cat Ben relating to group of spectres the nine different ways in which he had died.
    "I'm dead," he cried. "My name was Ben."
    "I had nine lives, and just spent ten."
  • A Vocaloid song, "The Faulty Feline Philosophy," about a girl who becomes addicted to life-threatening exploits after a cat deity gives her multiple lives to spare.
    Why would I need your discretion
    Laughing in the face of death
    Life's a feast of thrilling flavors
    But the spicy one's the best
    If my flesh is turned to shreds
    Then it's a worthy sacrifice
    Cause in the end the only real concern for me is counting lives

    Print Media 
  • MAD: The parody "The Faketrix", while parodying the A Glitch in the Matrix scene, a cat walking by nine times is nothing odd — they've got nine lives, after all — but one walking by ten times is a good cause to panic.
    Underdone: Weird! I saw that cat walk by, and then I saw it walk by again!
    TryNtease: What's so weird about that? A cat has nine lives! When it walks by a tenth time, THEN it's weird!
    Underdone: Whoa! There goes the same cat for the TENTH time!
    TryNtease: Red Alert! That means our enemies are now in our world! Run!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call Of Catthulhu takes this literally. The PC (player cats) have nine lives to face dark eldrich powers with.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the first edition Fiend Folio, a creature called the Guardian Familiar resembles a cat and has to be killed nine times to stay dead. The description suggests this to be the source of the story that cats have nine lives.
    • In AD&D, this is the special power of the domestic rakasta (the rakasta subraces are all based on different cat species, and each has a different "energy surge" power). Domestic rakasta can use their energy burst to avoid death, but can only do so nine times in their life. (Which would actually give them ten lives, because of the fencepost error.)
  • Monarchies of Mau: The Uplifted cats have turned this superstition into a tenet of their religion in the form of Reincarnation. The question of whether reanimation as a zombie counts towards their nine lives occasionally causes conflicts between Mancers and Ministers.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Bastet werecats have access to a powerful rite that grants them nine lives. However, the rite can only be performed once and the player has no idea if it was successful until she dies, since the storyteller makes the roll. In a subversion, each resurrection deteriorates the cat somewhat: you lose a permanent Willpower point which can never be raised past the new level, just enough health is healed to put you above death, and you still have to remove yourself from the circumstances causing/following your death and could very well die a second time doing so. And the spell won't bring you back if your death reduced your body to chunky salsa or a pile of charred bones, nor will it work if you die from old age or Vampiric embrace, nor if your permanent Willpower would be zero (such as from previous resurrections).

  • Flush Force, in reference, has the character "18 Lives", a two-headed black cat.

    Video Games 
  • 9 Lives has a cat as player character.
  • The Binding of Isaac: The Guppy/Dead Cat item gives the player nine lives. It also has the side effect of setting your max health to one once you get it, and every death afterwards. This can make the game more difficult in the Womb/Scarred Womb and subsequent levels as Isaac becomes a One-Hit-Point Wonder if he lacks The Wafer item, which lets him take half-damage. The Dead Cat becomes more useful with the Updated Re-release Rebirth as it lets Isaac use the "Suicide King" card for its helpful effects despite its high costnote  and still giving several lives to fall back on. It's also extremely useful for The Lost, who is a One-Hit-Point Wonder anyway, so the downsides don't really matter.
  • Blade Kitten: Played with. Though Death Is a Slap on the Wrist for Kit (she merely gets sent back to the last checkpoint she touched with no health or money loss), you get an achievement if you let her die nine times on the same level.
  • In Blinx, the maximum number of RETRY (rewind time after death) Time Controls Blinx can hold is 9. Blinx, the main character, is an anthropomorphic cat.
  • Bubsy: The titular hero is a bobcat, and starts with nine (video game) lives.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: Referenced and parodied. Greg the Grim Reaper complains that squirrels are even more annoying for him than cats, because squirrels have as many lives as they think they can get away with. Later in the game he's seen attempting to kill Catfish as they apparently have the same amount of lives as their furry namesakes.
    Greg: "I don't bloody believe it! They've got fish versions of the little bastards now!"
  • At the end of Creature Crunch, Wesley has to get past a giant cat in order to exit Dr. Drod's mansion. To do so, he must eat something to transform and snuff out eight of the cat's nine lives.
  • Dungeon Crawl has a playable race of sentient cats, the felids. Unlike any other race of the game, they can have extra lives. Upon dying, they "respawn" somewhere in the same level and can go back to finish off what killed them and eat their own corpse.
  • Earthworm Jim: The battle with Evil the Cat in the first game plays this trope to the hilt. Every time he's shot, a numbered ghost flies away, and after the ninth time the battle ends.
  • Fallout 3: While you don't meet cats, it's common knowledge that radiated cats have 18 half-lives (a physics joke: half-life is an important concept in nuclear physics), as said by your robot butler.
  • In King's Quest VII, Rosella can help a black cat in Ooga Booga and receive one of its nine lives as a reward. Since it's impossible to actually lose KQ VII, this may seem pointless. During the game's climax, Rosella's Love Interest Edgar is killed by the Big Bad Malicia; using the life on him gets you the Golden Ending while failing to so (or not obtaining the life to begin with) gives you a Bittersweet Ending instead.
  • In The Lion King, the maximum number of Video-Game Lives Simba can have is nine. Simba is a lion.
  • Prowlers in Monster Hunter Generations can run out of health three times before fainting, the first and second times limping back up and chowing down on a large acorn to restore them back to fighting form. Since most quests have a "three faints and you're out" rule, this effectively gives them nine lives by default.
  • In Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill, you play as President Clinton's cat Socks. The player starts off with nine lives.
  • Referenced in Stray through the achievement "No More Lives" which requires you to die at least nine times throughout the game.
  • In Sylvester And Tweety In Cagey Capers on the Sega Genesis, Sylvester begins the game with nine lives. On losing a life, a soul is seen fleeing his body with a cry of "Sufferin' Succotash!" but unlike in most games that have lives, play flows as though nothing happened.
  • Team Sonic Racing: Sonic references Big the Cat having nine lives as an insult.
  • Tofu Tower (Naka): The Bast card, for the Egyptian Mythology cat goddess's Flavor Text twists this, swapping "li(fe/ves)" and "cats":
    Every life should have nine cats.
  • World of Warcraft: Auriaya is accompanied by a Feral Guardian (basically a big angry panther) which will respawn when killed. Precisely eight times. The achievement for killing it and then defeating her is called "Nine Lives".
  • Yo-kai Watch 2: This is referenced when the cat yo-kai Jibanyan says that he would commit a Heroic Sacrifice nine times for his ex-owner Amy if he had to.

    Web Comics 
  • In Nip and Tuck, their pet cat seems determined to use them all up. And according to Tuck, their pet cat is running up credit on some more.
  • Prague Race: Played with. Death is attracted to cats because they have nine deaths.
  • In Ratfist, Mr. Black becomes a cat-man, which gains him eight extra lives, handily explaining why he's alive in the future even though Space Tiki's time portal cut him in half. Later, he gets arrested and loses the rest of his lives during an escape attempt.
  • RPG World: Larry and Earl are werecats that get killed several times during the comic.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman: This probably isn't the case with Catwoman, but the Yakuza boss Hideo Katsu decided not to take chances. Fortunately for her, that's when Batman shows up.
    Katsu: It is said cats have nine lives. (To his henchmen.) Destroy her ten times over!
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: A magic cloak that gives the wearer nine lives supposedly originated from an Egyptian cat goddess. Needless to say, Catwoman wants it (as do Two-Face and others).
  • Bunnicula: Bunnicula scares Chester so often that he literally dies of fright. His other eight lives return and try to save him from dying.
  • Cat Burglar: Rowdy, the titular Villain Protagonist, used to have nine lives, but he only has three at the start of this interactive short. Once you lose your first life, his spirit will chastise you for being careless with his lives before explaining, and showing, that he lost the other six to a multitude of previous ill-fated criminal escapades. Interestingly, the failure endings that have him be sent back down from heaven have only three of his lives (namely, the ones the player's missteps cost him) be returned to his mortal body (with one even having God, after telling Rowdy to retry the short to reach the true ending, actively giving the two previously lost lives back to his last one before reviving him again).
  • CatDog: In one episode, while cleaning out the attic, Dog stumbles upon a box containing eight jars. Thinking them to be soda, he starts drinking from one of the bottles, before Cat yells at him and explains to him that he keeps his other eight lives in the jars. Dog then spits out the life he was drinking, which then becomes active before releasing the other seven. The lives then escape and start terrorizing Nearburg, prompting Cat and Dog to go after them Ghostbuster style.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • "Pluto's Judgement Day" features angelic cats representing lost lives of an individual (black) cat appearing in Hell.
      One little, two little, three little angels,
      Four little, five little, six little angels,
      Seven little, eight little, nine little angels,
      All that's left of Uncle Tom!
    • "The Worm Turns": When Pluto corners the cat and closes in for the kill, the cat's nine lives emerge from its body, in the form of cat ghosts, each adorned with the numbers 1 through 9 on it. Mickey sprays the courage-maker formula on the cat just as the last life is coming out, and all the other eight jump back in as the cat gets a boost of courage and goes on the offensive against Pluto.
  • In a Columbia short, a Frank Sinatra cat is electrocuted in a mishap with high-tension wires and a power box. His nine lives are seen flying away headed for Heaven... but the cat recovers his wits just long enough to give a quick tug on the last soul's tail and call them all back.
  • Eek! The Cat: In at least one episode, Eek is shown to have a card with his nine lives marked on it.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In one episode, after being fed up with Catman continuously hurting himself in his delusional attempts to be a hero, Timmy tells that he's down to the last of his nine lives and that he needs to stop with the dangerous activities. It works, but then Timmy has to help him find another cat-themed calling.
  • Famous Fred: Concludes on the discovery Fred had only used up eight of his nine lives.
  • Felix the Cat: Felix often references his nine lives in cartoons and comics, to a point where one hardback anthology of Felix comics was titled Nine Lives to Live and an ongoing comic book was called The Nine Lives of Felix the Cat.
    • In Pedigreedy (1927), a flashback sequence depicts two ancestors of Felix saving a drowning man by sending their other eight lives out of their bodies to create a human (or rather, feline) chain.
    • In The Last Life (1928), Felix gets a job as a movie stunt pilot, deliberately sacrificing multiple lives in service to a huge paycheck. Unfortunately, the air perils stack up faster than Felix had expected, and he only narrowly manages to protect life number nine.
  • Garfield: His 9 Lives depicts the concept as cats being reincarnated. At the end of the special, when Garfield is cheated out of his ninth life because of an unfair situation, he ends up getting nine more lives, and manages to score the same deal for Odie the dog.
  • Herman and Katnip: In "Naughty But Mice", Herman thoroughly dispatches the cat that has been eating his friends, only to be greeted by nine ghosts rising from the grave to chase him.
  • The Inspector: In one cartoon, the Commissioner is trying to sleep, with the Inspector keeping everything quiet, a noisy cat being his biggest problem. In the end, the Inspector shoots the cat, but its nine lives make noise as they drift away, leaving him to deal with the Commissioner's wrath.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat has been stated several times to have nine lives.
  • Krazy Kat occasionally mentions having nine lives, in one strip telling Ignatz Mouse that if she dies, she'll have nine ghosts.
  • Looney Tunes uses this several times.
    • "Angel Puss": A cat disguises himself as a ghost to trick Sambo. After he is found out, Sambo chases after him and shoots him...and is promptly scared away by nine ghostly cats ("And dis time brothuh, us ain't kiddin'").
    • "Dough-Ray-Meow" has a cat being done in by a parrot, who tells him he would've inherited a large sum of money if he wasn't dying, "and you can't take it with you!" Upon hearing this, the lives fly back into his body and he sits up, saying "If I can't take it with me, I'm not going!"
    • "Notes to You" has Porky Pig being kept from sleep by an alleycat's singing. At the end of the cartoon he dispatches the feline with a shotgun... only to have all nine of the cats' ghosts serenading him. The same premise and gag are re-used in Freleng's 1948 short "Back Alley Oproar", with Sylvester as the pesky cat and Elmer Fudd as the would-be sleeper.
    • "Rebel Without Claws": Sylvester lampshades this when the firing squad for Tweety shoots him instead ("It's a good thing I've got nine lives. With this army I'll need 'em!")
    • "Satan's Waitin'" has Sylvester gradually losing all nine of his lives in pursuit of Tweety; they're shown lining up together on a bench in a Fire and Brimstone Hell presided over by a devil-dog.
    • "The Stupid Cupid": A cat shoots himself after the dog chasing him is struck by Cupid's arrow. He falls down, and we see a white version of him labeled "2". He shoots himself, falls down, and we see another white version, but with the number "3". And so on...
    • At the end of the 2003 short, "Museum Scream", Sylvester gets shot out of a cannon creating a fireworks display. As Tweety watches the display, he comments "It's a good ting puddy tats have nine lives... eight... seven... Ooh! Six..."
  • The Halloween Special Michael Jackson's Halloween features a Mad Scientist cat named Franklin Stein, who claims to have spent eight of his nine lives working on one of his inventions.
  • The 9th Life of Sherman Phelps: Sherman is a cat who's unknowingly lost eight of his lives. Those eight are trying to kill him because they can't enter Heaven until he loses his ninth.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Terminal Stimpy", it is revealed that Stimpynote  has already died 7 times and has only two lives left. Being Stimpy, he wastes another life and spends the rest of the cartoon going through the Five Stages of Grief.
  • Robot Chicken: Parodied during a sketch where a cat, about to be hanged, tries to trick the hangman.
    Cat: I regret that I only have one life to give for my country.
    Hangman: Yeah, nice try. Get nine nooses!
  • The Secret Show: A teleporter accident causes Victor to get his DNA mixed with an evil cat, getting feline features and mannerisms, and yes, nine lives. When the cat escapes, he's killed eight times trying to recapture it.
  • Secret Squirrel: One episode features a mad scientist who harnesses "the secret of a cat's nine lives" to create eight clones of himself.
  • The Simpsons: In "I, Doh-Bot", this trope is mentioned during Snowball II's funeral. Lisa wrote her a poem.
    Lisa: I wrote this poem for you. It's called "Cat Math".
    Four paws, plus one tail, plus nine lives equals one special cat.
    One special cat minus nine lives equals one sad little girl.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • There has been an occasion where Tom was killed so thoroughly that he watches his other eight lives go by on clouds as angels as he rises toward heaven.
    • One time, Tom is literally scared to death multiple times in succession — the numbered spirits drag each other along by clinging to the tail of the one in front, and when Tom smacks into a wall while running in terror, the spirits keep going and reenter his body.
    • Subverted twice, in "Trap Happy" (played for laughs) and "Heavenly Puss" (played for drama) as no other lives emerge from his body after he's done in.
  • T.U.F.F. Puppy: An early episode has the Chameleon try to murder Kitty by blowing her up one for each of her nine lives. Interestingly, there were a total of ten explosives on hand. He probably wanted to make sure she was dead.
  • This is the premise of Fraidy Cat. Fraidy is on his ninth and final and he’s nervous about it. If he says a number one through eight, his lives appear to him. His lives, personified as ghosts of the past are trying to help or hinder his final life, but if he says nine, his ninth life, which is personified as a storm cloud in the shape of a nine, will always try to zap Fraidy. It was a pretty morbid concept for a kids show, and it wasn’t really popular among viewers.
  • Likewise in Kitty Is Not a Cat, the aptly-named Last Chance is explicitly on his ninth life. While in early episodes this would let him opt out of dangerous situations, later on both he and the rest of the cats constantly show blatant disregard for his safety.
  • Van Beuren Studios: The cat in "Dinnertime" almost loses his nine lives from falling, but he climbs back up through the air to get them. A nearby dog who was drinking beer sees this, looks at his bottle, and then drops it and runs off in fear.
  • Wakfu: Demigod children of the god Ecaflip can reincarnate nine times no matter what the circumstances of their deaths were as long as they have an extra life left, though they do suffer Death of Personality since they lack Past-Life Memories.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra, according to Word of God, has this. She actually burned through all nine lives throughout the series thanks to everything from suffocation, to electrocution, to being literally deleted from reality. In season five, getting revived by Adora resets her life counter.
  • SWAT Kats occasionally had mentions made of criminals serving nine-life sentences, combining this trope with Longer-Than-Life Sentence.



Marion has lost at least two of his nine lives at the hands of abusive owners.

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