Someone (ehem, Kendra) is kind of obsessed with puppies in historical costume movies and TV shows. But the other two of us know that cats rule, dogs drool. And kitties are really the best company in the sewing room, so cats and costumes go together much better than dogs, bleh. However, Kendra does have a point that cats don’t show up on screen as often. Obviously, cats aren’t as dumb and easily trained, they’re not going to deal with the endless takes and re-shoots required for a movie. So they don’t get the big parts in Hollywood movies and other productions.
People often think of cats in horror flicks, especially black cats, but when it comes to historical themes on screen, felines show up as family friends just as often as they’re portrayed as evil familiars. So let’s look at all kinds of cats in historical costume movies and TV shows, chronologically from oldest to newest!
The heroine of this silent Victorian-esque classic loves her cat, but alas, nothing will protect her from the vampiric Count Orlock.
Little Women (1933)
Beth’s kittens are a key plot point in the novel of Little Women, so appropriately enough, filmed versions usually include a good kitty scene, starting with Katharine Hepburn, as Jo Marsh, and basket of adorable tabbies.
Quality Street (1938)
Spinsters, knitting, and a cat, in 1810s. OK, so it’s a stereotype, but it could be worse.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
In between Judy Garland’s songs, there’s a big fat cat hanging out in the kitchen with the fam.
The Three Musketeers (1948)
Vincent Price and a big tabby cat. If this is bad, I don’t want to be good!
Little Women (1949)
Another Louisa May Alcott adaption, now with Elizabeth Taylor, as Amy, and a sweet lil’ kitty.
Gone to Earth (1950)
A wild-child in late Victorian England loves her animals, including a big black cat.
The Life of Oharu (1952)
A tragic tale of a woman exiled from the imperial court at Kyoto. At least she had her cat.
Robinson Crusoe (1954)
I would be pretty damn happy if I had a cat with me on shipwrecked island.
Footsteps in the Fog (1955)
A portrait of the murdered wife in Victorian London, but the black cat lived — perhaps kitty is the one who told the maid the truth?
First, Gigi ignores her beautiful silver cat while she’s being tutored to be a high-class prostitute. Later, Gigi sings to her cat as she contemplates love vs. the high life.
A whole episode “The Cats of Paradise” of this western TV show revolved around selling cats to deal with the rat population in a mining town. No, that’s not at all weird…
True Grit (1969)
I always love a shop where there’s a cat on the counter.
The Godfather (1972)
This stray cat made his way onto the Paramount lot during filming and into Don Vito Corleone’s heart.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
An odd West German film set in the 1820s, apparently with cat dancing?
As the name implies, this movie takes place at the turn of the 19th century in Italy, and here we see Robert DeNiro with a kitty.
The Uncanny (1977)
Three linked stories in this flick make cats the evil-doers in 1912, 1936, and 1975. Hiss!
True Confessions (1981)
A 1940s murder mystery, loosely based on the Black Dahlia case. Looks like this black and white feline is an innocent bystander.
Pale Rider (1985)
Wild west, general store, buyin’ yer goods, pettin’ the cat. As you do.
Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
Adorbs kitten helps out in the trenches of World War I, for king and country!
Little Women (1994)
More Little Women, more kittens — marmalade kitty, brown tabby, and a white kitty who we see again with Meg.
Oscar and Lucinda (1997)
A quirky, slightly sad movie about an odd pair in Victorian Australia. Lucinda’s big stripey cat makes many appearances.
The Mummy (1999)
Set in 1920s Cairo and mucking around with faux Egyptology, this cat is the best part of the whole movie.
A Very Long Engagement (2004)
Audrey Tatou gets feline comfort while looking for her lost lover during World War I.
The Prestige (2006)
It’s about Victorian magicians, so, of course, there’s a black cat!
Ugh, no, I can’t watch what they do that to the poor kitty in this 18th-century flick. Unfair.
Masters of Horror: The Black Cat (2007)
Part of a TV anthology, this show tells of Edgar Allen Poe, in 1840, and his wife Virgina’s black cat.
Bright Star (2009)
Fanny Brawne’s sweet socks cat livens up her doomed romance with the poet John Keats in 1818.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Another one I hate to include, but I like to think Kovacs was a good owner to his doomed cat — he did take the cat with him to a fancy hotel in the 1930s, after all.
Wolf Hall (2015)
Cardinal Woolsey finds a box of little black kittens and tells Cromwell to take them. Dawwwww!
Where are your favorite cats in historical costume movies and TV show? Did I miss a good one?