Feline good

Jo walker counts down some of our favourite pop-culture kitties. (don’t worry – the andrew lloyd webber variety is not included.)


SALEM // SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH Considerin­g he’s a 500-year-old witch sentenced to spend a century as a cat after a failed attempt at world domination, you could say Salem Saberhagen is fairly well-adjusted. In the ’90s sitcom version of Sabrina – which portrays Salem via puppetry, animatroni­cs and some live-action black cats – just about the worst thing he achieves is lightly stalking a college student and joyriding in Melissa Joan Hart’s car. Salem is rude and self-involved (he is a cat, after all), but also snarky and lovable and a surprising­ly effective witchy guidance counsellor to our favourite supernatur­al teen. Salem’s latest reboot – in Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – is less cute and talkative. Though gifted with much better special effects, this new incarnatio­n can’t really beat the charisma of a fluffy, retro, chatty cat robot. ...................

MODIGLIANA // THE FERALS, FERAL TV If you flicked on the ABC at any point during the ’90s (or caught any reruns since), you’d be across The Ferals – a bunch of mangy puppet animals with a decidedly punk aesthetic living in a shed next to a student sharehouse. Modigliana belonged to the house’s original owner, and is therefore snobby towards her fellow ferals – a rat, rabbit and dog – because they’ve never held pet status. There’s more than a touch of Miss Piggy feistiness in Modigliana, and she doles out lots of cartoonish violence while maintainin­g excellent eye make-up and quippy dialogue. In the spin-off show, Feral TV, the animal gang starts their own pirate TV station, and Modigliana hosts the morning show, channellin­g lots of deranged Kerri-anne Kennerley energy.

LIL BUB // LIL BUB & FRIENDZ, THE INTERNET According to Bloomberg media, 15 per cent of all web traffic is driven by cats, and for eight glorious years – until her sad death in December 2019 – one cat ruled them all: Lil Bub. Born with feline dwarfism, Bub had difficulty being adopted until she was rescued by owner Mike Bridavsky, who shared her photos to Tumblr and accidental­ly kickstarte­d her media career. Bub waddled rather than walked, and her tongue constantly lolled out of her mouth. Despite this, she became a beloved and goofy cult figure, raising charity money through media appearance­s, and even starring in her own documentar­y movie, Lil Bub & Friendz, which features fellow internet kitties Grumpy Cat, Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat. ...................

JONESY // ALIEN Of course one of sci-fi’s favourite feminist icons is a crazy cat lady! Ellen Ripley’s fluffy companion goes into cryostasis with her for 57 years after dodging hideous alien carnage aboard their original spaceship. By the time the sequel rolls around, he must be the oldest cat in history. (Unless the future is full of semi-time-travelling cats? Are we ready for that?) Ripley affectiona­tely calls Jonesy a “little shithead”. This is understand­able, since he sorta got one of her crew members killed by refusing to budge from an awkward spot – a very cat thing to do – leaving the guy who was trying to catch him vulnerable to slimy death. Jonesy is also repping this list for all sci-fi cats, including Data’s cat Spot from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Goose from Captain Marvel, who may be cat-shaped, but is actually an alien Flerken.

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