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Heroic Canines, Villainous Felines

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In many works featuring dogs and cats, the dogs are on the side of good and the cats are on the side of evil. Sometimes, the cat or cats are just meaner than the dog or dogs in general.

Works featuring rodent characters often use this trope even though there are dogs bred to hunt mice and rats. For example, rodent characters and dog characters partner together against cat characters. Kittens tend to be exempt from this trope, due to them stereotypically being seen as more cute and innocent than adult cats; consequently if a dog is chasing an adult cat the dog is often depicted as the "hero", whereas if a dog is chasing a kitten the dog is often the "villain".

Many aversions that feature cats and dogs in the same team or fighting on the same side, especially when the team or side is good, tend to have cats in the lower ranks than the dogs.

Almost always inverted in stories where wild felines and canines are used; wild dog-like canines such as wolves, coyotes or jackals are often on the side of evil, while wild big cats like lions and tigers are often on the side of good.

See Cats Are Mean and Heroic Dog. Subtrope of Cat/Dog Dichotomy and Good Animals, Evil Animals. Female Feline, Male Mutt is a sister trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted in Akame ga Kill!. Leone is one of the main protagonists, and her Imperial Arms gives her cat-like abilities. Meanwhile, Seryu Ubiquitous has an Imperial Arms resembling a small dog— and she's one of the nastiest villains in the series.
  • Inverted in Cat Planet Cuties, there are two races of invading Little Bit Beastly aliens. One wants to make friends with humans, the other have a more sinister agenda. Guess which is which. This is probably because in Japan cats are seen as lucky and kind in contrast with Western stereotypes that cats are bad luck and mean.
  • This is the general rule with familiars in Lyrical Nanoha. The two characters who have a wolf familiar (or Guardian Beast) are unambiguously heroic figures, while the two characters with cat familiars were the Big Bad of their season and a Well-Intentioned Extremist respective. Note that this only applies to familiars, and only within the main continuity, since there are plenty of characters with pet cats or cat-themed devices that are good people, and the movie continuity has another heroic character with three cat familiars.

    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in Billy the Cat, where, probably because it's told from the cats' perspective, the sympathy is firmly on the feline side. Cats are individuals who may have their flaws, but (apart from the villain Sanktifer, the only evil cat in the comic) on the whole they're good guys; at worst a cat is a Lovable Rogue or Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Dogs, by contrast, are far more often depicted as evil, stupid brutes — there are a few notable examples of sympathetic or even heroic dogs in the series, but on the whole in this series cats are heroes and dogs are villains.
  • In Art Spiegelman's Maus, the Allied American troops are done as dogs, the Nazis are done as cats, and the Jews are done as mice.
  • Shaky inverted example from Warren Vampirella: Pantha (werefeline) vs. Slandra, leader of the alien Lupae (werewhatever). We will never know for sure what species she was ("If I wouldn't be so weak, I'd show you!"), but by ironclad naming conventions, Lupae are obviously werewolves.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Get Fuzzy, Satchel the dog is friendly but dimwitted, while Bucky the cat is a constant Jerkass.
  • Peanuts: Snoopy the dog is one of the two main protagonists, while the Unseen Character, World War II is a pretty mean cat, always taking a swipe at Snoopy and his doghouse.

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted in Catwoman: Showdown in Shibuya, a prequel for the Dusk to Dawn series. Catwoman is an Anti-Hero up against through-and-through villain Kaito Mori aka Hellhound, a ninja with an Inugami motif. He returns as her apparent Arch-Enemy in the Grand Finale, Batman: Darkest Hour.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney
    • Averted in 101 Dalmatians, where the only cat character, barn-cat Seargeant Tibbs, is brave and loyal. As is common for these aversions, he's subordinate to his farm's dog, The Colonel.
    • Inverted and Played With in The Aristocats. Duchess and her kittens are perfectly nice. O'Malley and Scat Cat's gang are "kinda rough around the edges"note , but are ultimately on the side of good. The bloodhounds Napoleon and Lafayette exemplify Dogs Are Dumb and cause trouble for Edgar, but otherwise have little effect on the plot.
    • In Cinderella, Bruno the dog is loyal and on the side of good and Lucifer (the name should speak for itself) the cat is mean and on the side of evil, being Lady Tremaine's Right-Hand Cat. The movie also features Nice Mice, most notably Jaq and Gus, who help Cinderella out and whom the cat likes to chase.
    • In Bolt's Show Within a Show stars a heroic dog, while the villain has Right-Hand Cat or three. Behind the scenes, the cats mock and belittle Bolt for believing the premise.
    • In the Disney film The Great Mouse Detective, Toby is Basil's pet dog who helps him solve mysteries, and Felicia is Ratigan's pet cat, who is used to execute anyone who gets on his bad side.
    • In Lady and the Tramp, most of the dogs are good and come off as roguish at worst, barring the three rabid street-toughs, but the only cats that appear, Si and Am are devious and willfully wreck the stuff in the house, try to eat the pet canary and fish, and annoy Lady.
    • Inverted and Zigzagged in Oliver & Company, which revolves around a sweet little kitten trying to find food and shelter. Most of the dogs are Lovable Rogues and, while brazen and rough in places, are allies to Oliver. However, Syke's guard hounds are menacing antagonists.
    • Robin Hood (1973) has a rare instance with wild animals rather than domestic ones. Robin Hood himself is a fox and his arch-enemy Prince John is a lion. Ultimately Zig-Zagged as John's predecessor and fellow lion Richard is a good king, and one of John's lackeys is a wolf.
  • Taken to the extreme in All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, where the dogs (except for Carface) are the good characters, some of them being from Heaven, while the main villain, Red, is a demonic being resembling an anthropomorphic cat. However, the spinoff cartoon shows there are other evil dogs as well and that some of them are demonic minions of Red.
  • In An American Tail and its sequels most of the cats are either villains or are assumed to be until proved otherwise. The dog in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a good guy, though the dog in An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster is the Big Bad.
  • DC League of Super-Pets has the one cat character, Whiskers, join the villains, standing against a team with two heroic dogs, Krypto and Ace.
  • Zig-zagged a little in Doraemon: Nobita in the Wan-Nyan Spacetime Odyssey, an installment of the series set in a world populated by anthropomorphic canines and felines. Nobita and gang's new friend (who's the new main character of the film), Hachi, is a dog, as are Hachi's entire gang of canine urchins. Meanwhile Big Bad Nekojara and The Dragon Nyago are both cats. However, Hachi's adoptive mother is revealed to be another cat, Nekojara's Persian cat henchwoman, Sharmee pulls a Heel–Face Turn and Defector from Decadence late in the story to help the heroes, while Nekojara's private army of mooks seems to comprise of an equal number of cats and dogs.
  • The animated feature film version of Frankenweenie concludes with a conflict between the dog Sparky and the Creepy Child's cat Mr. Whiskers.
  • Inverted in Kung Fu Panda 2 with the sidekicks; one of the heroes (and also one of the heroic panda Po's sidekicks) is a Defrosting Ice Queen Master Tigress, while the Greater-Scope Villain peacock Lord Shen's henchmen are wolves, including The Dragon Wolf Boss himself.
  • Rugrats Go Wild!: Spike, the affectionate dog, goes up against Siri, a vicious clouded leopard who wants to eat the babies after Spike repeatedly torments her.
  • Played Straight and Zigzagged in The Sword in the Stone. Tiger and Talbot, the 2 dogs at Sir Ector's castle, are technically neutral, but lean towards the good side as they are friendly and loving to Arthur/Wart. Meanwhile, the evil witch, Madame Mim, takes the form of many creatures in the film, two of them being a cat and a tiger. However, another animal she takes the form of is a fox; and there is also the other antagonist, a hungry wolf who wants to eat Arthur/Wart.
  • In Titanic: The Legend Goes On a dog saves some steerage mice from being eaten by some cats.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Cats & Dogs, the cats are evil and the dogs are good. There are good cats in the sequel, but the villain is still a cat. The sequel also reveals the existence of evil dogs, but does not show anynote .
  • Inverted in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) with Fairuza Balk as a heroic Cat Girl and Azazello an evil Dogman.

  • Beren and Lúthien: In the earliest version of the story, "The Tale of Tinúviel", the cats serve the Dark Lord Morgoth and hate the dogs because they will not bow or fear Morgoth and guard the dwellings of Men from evil.
  • Subverted in Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones. The cats in Sirius' new home are at first jealous and try to set the Evil Matriarch against him. After he saves one of them from her wrath, however, they become some of his best allies.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The main human character, Mowgli, is raised by Noble Wolves, and his life is constantly threatened by the evil tiger, Shere Khan. However, at the same time, one of Mowgli's friends and protectors is Bagheera, the warm, caring panther; while Shere Khan's henchman is the creepy jackal, Tabaqui. Also, there are the savage pack of dholes (known in the book as 'the red dogs'), who appear later on.
  • Inverted and Played With in Snot Stew: While Butch, the dog next door, is an unfriendly guard dog whom Kikki and Toby's mother warns would happily gobble up "a soft, juicy kitten", the biggest threat to their safety is how Toby keeps teasing Butch, repeatedly going into his yard, then zipping out under the fence and taunting him afterwards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • My Cat from Hell: Inverted with any episode that features dogs, whose poor training is the source of the cats' behavior problems.
    • Sid (cat) was behaving badly because Teddy (dog) was humping him regularly, and the owners were doing nothing about it.
    • Leo (cat) was attacking Nala (dog) twenty times a day, usually because Nala was encroaching on Leo's cat tower and litter box. It turned out that Nala couldn't follow a single command from the owners, so Jackson told them to work on that.
  • Inverted in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The plush toy moon cats are heroic beings helping the Senshi as typical of Sailor Moon and one of the villains, Mio Kuroki, has a plush dog named Choppi. The dog itself is more of a Companion Cube than an antagonist, though.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Zoroastrianism classifies dogs as good and cats as evil in its classification of animals' moral allegiance. Islam is the exact opposite, not that it considers dogs to be "evil", but they are considered unclean and cats are considered to be blessed, which caused no little friction when Islam and Zoroastrianism started to coexist.

  • In The Blue Bird, Tylette the cat hates being in thrall to humans and betrays the children, while Tylo the dog is faithful throughout.

  • Monster High: The most prominent werewolf and werecat in the franchise are the generally heroic Clawdeen and the Alpha Bitch Toralei, respectively. Besides them, however, the trope is zigzagged, with most werecats outside of Toralei and her Girl Posse being friendly and a few antagonistic werewolves making occasional appearances.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted in the After Dark (Berkeley Systems) series of screensaver games. Boris the Cat is an adorable kitten who runs across the screen chasing a butterfly. Bad Dog, on the other hand, chews up your desktop and makes a mess of everything.
  • Dogs and cats are recruitable party members in Death Road to Canada. Dogs won't attack humans unless they're feral or their morale gets too low. Cats, on the other hand, always have low loyalty and their Despair Events always involve maiming other survivors.
  • In both the Earthworm Jim video games and the cartoon series, despite turning into a big, hulking monster when you push one too many of his Berserk Buttons, Peter Puppy is a really nice guy who is the sidekick of the titular hero. Evil the Cat on the other hand, lives up to his name.
  • Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil: Tat, a cat with a Duality Motif, serves the villainous Leorina. Popka, a more doglike animal, serves the heroes.
  • Super Catboy inverts this with the titular protagonist being a cat, while almost all the onscreen enemies are dogs. Then again, you do fight a renegade Cat Ninja as one of the bosses.
  • Tequila & Boom Boom: Inverted. The game's Anti-Hero protagonist Tequila is a lynx and Big Bad Ernest P. Vyle is a coyote.
  • Generally inverted in TinkerQuarry: Whiskers is a friendly and affectionate plush cat who achieves a supporting role if you add him into your active party, while the Big Bad Staya/Fido is a toy Angry Guard Dog who is a constant menace throughout the game. While there are also a few canid and feline NPCs, none of them are antagonistic towards the player.

  • Unsounded: Lions killed Ssael, the founder of the Ssaelit cult which then took lions to be a major part of its iconography. In response the Gefendur slaughtered lions and every other cat on the continent for this association, while everyone likes dogs and they are one of the only two animals in the setting it is taboo to eat. It's implied that Lions were intelligent animals that were once allied of the Gefendur and the modern teaching is that they turned on and betrayed their one time allies.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted in Around the World with Willy Fog. The main cast consists of three heroic felines (Fog, Rigodon and Romy), a rodent (Tico) of indeterminate species who's Rigodon's closest friend and three canine antagonists (Dix, Bully and Transfer). However, Transfer is the only one of the last three who's truly villainous; his attempts to stop Fog and his companions sometimes go as far as trying to kill them, and he doesn't seem to care if anyone not in Fog's party gets caught in one of his traps. Dix is simply an overzealous detective who's determined to arrest Fog for bank-robbery and refuses to consider the possibility that Fog might be innocent until he finally arrests Fog, only to learn that the real thief is already in custody, at which point he is filled with remorse. Bully is a simple-minded and good-natured character who likes his home comforts and would rather not be chasing a suspected bank-robber around the world.
  • In Arthur, the titular character's pet dog, Pal, and Francine's pet cat, Nemo, are like this in episodes focusing on Pal and Kate.
  • Inverted in Bad Luck Blackie. The dog is a villainous Bully Bulldog and the cat and kitten are heroic.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, the rangers (two of whom are mice) face several villainous cats, Fat Cat being one of their biggest foes. There are no reoccurring dog characters but there are one-offs that are friendly, including Dale's idol Flash the Wonder Dog. Subverted with the kittens encountered in the show though, as they are not one bit villainous.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Goofy is a nice, if bumbling and clumsy dog, while Pete is usually either mean and villainous or a Jerkass cat.
    • Played with for Pluto and Figaro. Figaro is a Bratty Half-Pint who usually bothers Pluto, but he himself is occasionally bad tempered and selfish. Both have Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments and usually end each short on better terms (only "Pluto's Sweater" has the standard "cat bullies dog and gets a comeuppance for it" formula).
    • Also played with for Pluto and the Siamese cat, Milton. They are rivals, but neither is portrayed as morally worse than the other. Milton is even a loyal servant to Pluto in the latter character's dream in "Plutopia".
    • Played straight in "Pluto's Kid Brother" with dogs Pluto and KB being on the side of good and a Jerkass alley cat Lucifer (not to be confused with Lucifer of Cinderella). Lucifer bullies KB and Pluto saves KB from him.
    • Inverted in "Figaro and Frankie." The cartoon starts with Figaro trying to catch Frankie the canary, but when Frankie falls from the window from trying to fly, Butch the Bully Bulldog starts trying to catch him too. After being faced by his good angel, Figaro saves Frankie from Butch.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • The title canine was always trying his best to protect Muriel and Eustace from all the villainous foes who were out to do them harm, including Katz, who was the show's most frequently used villain. Shirley (supposedly a chihuahua) was one of Courage's only allies.
    • Also explored and eventually subverted in "The Mask", in which Kitty holds contempt for Courage and constantly inflicts severe pain and injuries on him for her bigotry towards dog — but the problem was Mad Dog stole her best friend away from her, showing that there are some evil dogs out there. Courage still manages to defeat Mad Dog, and bring Kitty and her friend Bunny back together, giving Kitty a lesson in how not all dogs are bad.
  • In Doug, Porkchop is owned by the protagonist Doug Funnie while Stinky is owned by Roger Klotz.
  • Inverted in Felix the Cat. Felix is the protagonist and Rock Bottom the dog is The Professor's (the villain in the TV cartoons) bumbling sidekick.
  • In Foofur dogs are mostly good (except for Pepe) and cats are mostly evil (except for Fencer).
  • Inverted with Waffles the cat and Chainsaw the dog in Goof Troop as the cat is nicer than the dog.
  • Krypto the Superdog:
    • The dogs are heroes and the cats are villains except Streaky, Squeaky, and the Supercat Fanclub members. The three Junkyard Dogs may not be so heroic, but they are not outright villainous.
    • Notably, one of the villainous cats in the show, Snooky Wookums, is a kitten.
  • Inverted in Lambert the Sheepish Lion, where the titular lion tries to protect the sheep flock from being attacked by a menacing wolf.
  • Llan-ar-goll-en has Ceri the dog-tective and Ianto the pirate cat. Ceri is one of two heroes of the show, being the detective who solves all the town's mysteries. Meanwhile, Ianto is Barti Felyn's cat, who does have his mischevious moments, like his owner.
  • Looney Tunes: Often Inverted by Chuck Jones.
    • In "Fresh Airedale", a duplicitous weasel of a dog is treated like a hero while the heroic cat gets no respect
    • In "Go Fly a Kit," a flying kitten, who raised by a mother eagle, saves another kitten from a Bully Bulldog
    • In "Chow Hound", where an enslaved cat is used by a big hulking dog to get a steady supply of meat (in this one, revenge is brutal and sweet). A mouse who is also enslaved by the dog sides with the cat in the revenge scene.
  • Played straight with Helen's pet dogs, Martha and Skits, and Ronald's pet cat, Nelson in Martha Speaks. Inverted in one of T.D.'s comics, where the cats are the heroes and the dogs are the villains.
  • Inverted with Ren & Stimpy. Ren the dog is a Jerkass and Stimpy is a nice, if dumb, cat.
  • In Rugrats, Tommy's loyal pet dog, Spike, and Angelica's pet cat, Fluffy are like this.
  • Roobarb is a good natured dog (if somewhat eccentric) with Custard, the next door cat, usually acting as a snarky bully, (if prone to occasional kinder moments).
  • Quite noticeable in Samurai Jack. Among the first friends that Jack makes in the future are a team of dog archaeologists, and in the fifth season he is represented by a white wolf. Meanwhile, the Imikandi are a race of Cat Folk hired by Aku to kill Jack, and in the fifth season the Daughters of Aku are represented by tigers. Even the otherwise friendly titular Creature from "Jack and the Creature" plays into this trope: it takes on a more feline appearance, with fangs and pointed ears, when it gets angry.
  • The Secret Files of The Spy Dogs: Dogs around the world are part of a secret organization dedicated to saving the world. Their most recurring antagonist is Catastrophe, a villainous cyborg cat.
  • One episode of The Simpsons inverts this. After Homer gets into a scrape, Santa's Little Helper leaves him to his fate while Snowball II saves him.
    • This trope is also inverted and zig-zagged in general; Snowball II is an affectionate cat mainly owned by Lisa Simpson, who is one of the most decent characters in the franchise; Bart's pet dog Santa's Little Helper can be obnoxious and troublesome most of times but can be decent at certain points, while Mr. Burns owns a pack of Angry Guard Dogs whom he sics at the people he dislikes.
  • Inverted in Thunder Cats with a group of heroic feline superheroes facing villainous characters of different species, but the Big Bad Mumm-Ra has a pet bulldog and one of the most prominent mooks are the Jackalmen.
  • Depending on the Writer, in Tom and Jerry, Spike the Bulldog may act like a hero while Tom can be the antagonist. Also, Jerry the mouse, who can be the protagonist, allies with Spike to defeat Tom.
  • Inverted in the Top Cat's movie Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats as most of the main characters are cats, the villain's sidekick is an evil dog.
  • Underdog:
    • The titular protagonist is a Heroic Dog, and one of the villains is a cat named Overcat.
    • Inverted in the Klondike Kat segments of Underdog, however. There is a mouse and a dog working together to thwart the titular cat, but the cat is the hero protagonist. The mouse, Savoir Faire, is the villain and the dog, Malamutt, is his sidekick.
  • What-a-Mess: The titular character imagines himself as "El Perro" ("The Dog") dealing with a persistent, if totally inept, army of feline soldiers in a Zorro setting.


Video Example(s):


Bruno and Lucifer

Even pure-hearted Cinderella can't find any good in Lucifer the cat

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeroicCaninesVillainousFelines

Media sources: