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The 20 Greatest Cats In Movie History (Before Keanu)

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    The kidnapped kitten at the center of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peel's Keanu is about to steal our hearts forever. We'd probably join up with drug dealers to save him too. Theoretically.

    But let us not forget the many feline thespians who paved the way for this tiny tabby. Cats, after all, don't just belong in the realm of YouTube videos and Instagram. They have a great and storied history in the cinema, dating back to Thomas Edison's first experiments in moving pictures. Then there was something of a golden age of cats in Hollywood from the '50s through the '70s, when cats slinked onto the screen in grown-up films like Breakfast at Tiffany's and practically every animated movie of the era.

    Naturally, there have also been some box-office duds in this catalog (looking at you, Garfield), but we'll channel our feline friends here and ignore the existence of such failures (although it's harder to forget that one of our childhood faves, The Adventures of Milo & Otis, supposedly involved considerable animal cruelty.) Ahead, we honor the 20 best cats in movies.


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    Professor Welton's Boxing Cats (1894)

    The first cat video of all time was shot by none other than Thomas Edison in his New Jersey studio. We can still watch those champs go at it on a loop, more than 120 years later, though it would be nice if we knew their names.

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    The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland (1951)

    It's hard to imagine any cat we've seen grinning like the Cheshire in any of his onscreen incarnations, but his disappearing act and nonchalant riddles perfectly illustrate the feline attitude as it pertains to petty human problems.

    Watch Alice in Wonderland on Amazon.

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    Si and Am, Lady and the Tramp (1955)

    So, we included these crafty kitties to remind everyone of 1) how racist Disney movies used to be, and 2) despite this awful Orientalist treatment, these cats seem kind of awesome. Bold move, trashing the place and blaming everything on that sappy little dog.

    Watch Lady and the Tramp on iTunes.

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    Pyewacket, Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

    Gillian's (Kim Novak) familiar, another Siamese, is a great asset when helping her cast a love spell on her frenemy's fiancé (Jimmy Stewart). Sometimes a magical feline friend makes the best wingman.

    Watch Bell, Book and Candle on DVD.

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    Cat, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

    This ginger is amazingly tolerant of his, er, roommate Holly Golightly, her raging parties, and her refusal to name him. It's a wonder he comes back to her after she abandons him in an alley on her way to a better life. A less forgiving creature would have tried his luck with someone new.

    Watch Breakfast at Tiffany's on Amazon.