My Favorite Video Game Cats

✏️ Sam Derboo | 📅 2024-01-16T02:24:00Z (updated 2024-01-24T16:00:00Z) | ⏱ 25 minute read


There's one undisputable objective truth in the universe: Cats are pretty great. If you disagree, I'm sorry, you're just a horrible horribly wrong person. (Disclaimer: I'll occasionally use ludicrous hyperbole like this in this article for comedic effect. Obviously, I don't mean it. Well, maybe just a little.) The only problem is you can't properly enjoy them while focused on playing video games. Or can you? I've collected these games featuring cats from all throughout gaming history so nothing can stand in your way - at least until an actual feline friend steps on the reset button again.

This is just a collection of cats I liked, I didn't do any sprawling research or anything. So if you know a cat from a game you think should totally be on this list, head on over to Bluesky or Twitter to enligthen and delight me!

For the record, I'll only be looking at anatomically convincing cats (considering the games' art style and contemporary technology) - this is no place for white-gloved anthropomorphs, anime girls with fluffy ears, or invading aliens in crescent-shaped space ships. Freaking Super Mario in a cat costume? Certainly not! Only proper, four-legged representatives of the family Felidae here. Enjoy!

Alley Cat (1983)


Thanks to Camden on Bluesky, who told me about this little old gem.

Alley Cat is a really, really old computer game, but surprisingly deep and versatile for its age. Perhaps the first game ever where you take the role of a cat? As Freddy the black alley cat, you first make your way up a row of garbage cans, avoiding white cats pushing you off by popping their heads out from under the lids and an angry dog chasing you on the ground. Then you can use some clothes lines to scale up and down the building while picking up mice.

For some contemporary titles, this would already have been the entire game - not so in this case. The windows to the house open up sporadically, leading into one of five possible different rooms where you can try to catch more mice, fish (after jumping into a gold fish bowl, it proves surprisingly spacious), or a bird, all the while avoiding a broom that pushes you out the window if it catches you while sweeping your tiny footsteps. There's even a scary room where you have to tiptoe past sleeping dogs to steal their food.

When Freddy successfully clears a room, there's yet another challenge where he tries to win the heart of his crush Felicia (bit of a stereotypical name, but alright), but is hindered by a bunch of grey cats (her brothers according to the manual) and cupids firing arrows at the heart platforms to make them either disappear or reappear.

Alley Cat might be obscure, but even after all these years it isn't forgotten. There even is an enhanced fan remake if the original is too old-fashioned for you. (If you do seek out the ancient versions in an emulator - the Atari original has superior graphics, sound, and controls compared to the IBM PC port.)

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Flicky (1984/05)


Technically, the cats are the bad guys in this game, chasing after the little blue bird and her chicks. But they're just so adorable in their bumbling antics as they're outmaneuvered by Sega's first mascot character, it's impossible to hate them for it. Somehow they're even cuter in the low-tech home conversions, too! On the other hand, they're pretty ugly on most of the home version cover art, but the original Japanese arcade flyer is alright.

I wrote a lot about Flicky 11 years ago on Hardcore Gaming 101, so check that out if you want to learn more about it!

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Koneko Monogatari: The Adventures of Chatran (1986/09/19)


This game for the Famicom Disk System is based on an old Japanese movie starring a kitten and his pug friend who keeps rescuing him out of dangerous situations. The film saw an English language release as The Adventures of Milo and Otis, but the game remained a Japanese exclusive. Might as well - like so many 8-bit movie tie-ins, it's a pretty below-average platforming game with awkward controls and boring level design. The dog only appears when collecting all the letters spelling HELP after shaking them from trees. He then immediately starts running towards the right of the screen, knocking enemies out of the way for as long as the player can keep up. Chatran's cute animations are more or less the only reason to have a look at this title.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Double Dragon (1987/04/22)


Well, you might think that I should have put this one in the also-rans list at the bottom of this page, seeing how it's just a static sprite in the background without even any animations. But it's just looking so cozy and relaxed napping on its trash can, I simply can't not include it as a main entry in my list!

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Violent Storm (1993/07/26)


Another feline found in the background of a side-scrolling beat-'em-up, but this little guy is much more involved in the events unfolding on the main stage, following the players around across several screens, hissing at an approaching boss enemy, or interacting with other background elements. That's quite a lot of attention to detail for what's otherwise a pretty run-of-the-mill (but pretty good) genre quarter muncher!

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Chrono Trigger (1995/03/11)


When Crono is woken up by his mother in the very first scene of Chrono Trigger, a little pet cat is sitting right by the side of his bed to greet him and follow him around as long as he stays home. He can even interact with the animal to entice a little meow and a jump. Sadly, the story soon sends the hero across the world and through time, so there's no more opportunity to play with the cat later.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Gokinjo Bōkentai (1996/05/24)


The developers must have seen the very temporary JRPG cat companion in Chrono Trigger and thought: "Hold my beer!" (I'm dramatizing a bit - there probably wasn't enough time between the two games for this kind of influence, plus 1995 also saw the release of Sailor Moon: Another Story, which of course features Usagi's sentient cat Luna.) Yuzu, who can be renamed according to your wishes, plays a central role in the plot of Gokinjo Bōkentai and follows the little girl protagonist all around the modern small town setting. Yuzu also has the funniest walking animation of any 16-bit RPG character ever.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Jingle Cats: Love Para Daisakusen no Maki (1998/07/16)


Thanks to HilltopWorks works who posted about this on Twitter, introducing me to this silly little game.

Jingle Cats could be (very reductively) described as "The Sims with cats drawn in Microsoft Paint". At the start of a session you pick two of your many house cats and then your goal is to make the two fall in love so they sing songs for you. But you can only influence their affections indirectly using a cursor and a variety of "toys" and food items, as they walk around the house doing regular cat things. While the interface is simple, the mechanics are quite opaque. But even if you can't play the game "successfully" it's a joy to just watch the goofy little cat doodles walking around the 360-degree panorama house backdrop and generally making a mess of things.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Shenmue (1999/12/29)


Despite all that Jujutsu fighting and quick time event action, Shenmue was also kind of one of the forefathers of the cozy gaming genre, with many episodes of mundane Japanese small town life peppered into Ryo Hazuki's tale for taste. One of these involves some of the neighborhood kids looking after a kitten after its mother is run over by the evil Chinese crime boss's car, so Ryo gets to bond with her over both their parents being murdered. So the hero soon joins in by feeding the little one with milk and sushi from the convenience store, and even gets a choice of naming - the options are Mimi, Chibi, Tama, and Sasuke, though if he picks the latter it is promptly rejected by Megumi, the main girl looking after the kitten, who ends up adopting her for real if Ryo supports her enough. Unfortunately, we never see the kitten grow up, as our somewhat bland protagonist soon leaves for China on his epic, never concluded revenge quest.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Shadow of Memories (2001/02/22)


This time travel tragedy - known in the US as Shadow of Destiny - features a compelling setting and story, but sometimes it can feel like a potpourri about all the different time travel clichés you can imagine.

One of those is the becoming your own ancestor trope, but with cats, whose ancient mansion is populated by countless cats running about, which the guy is desperately looking for new homes for. When Eike finds himself in need to impress his friend's ancestor as a little girl while traveling back to the year 1902, he recklessly goes to get one of the kittens and gifts it to her, thus presumably seeding the line of cats in the manor.

Luckily for Eike, the results are so adorable that it's easy to forgive him his crimes against the time line. According to the game credits, the meows of the cats have been voiced by none other than Junko Kawano, the writer and director of the game herself.

This is another game I wrote an extensive article about for Hardcore Gaming 101 back in the day.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Zwei!! (2001/12/20)


Maybe Zwei!! should be more accurately titled Drei!!!, as the two heroes presumably referred to in the title (it's German for "two") soon end up rescuing a third party member - a pet who follows them around on all their adventures. You get to choose wether that is a cat or a dog, but it's a cat that shows up prominently on the game's logo and various supplemental artwork, so it's save to assume that cat is the correct choice.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Divine Divinity (2002/09/13)


The plot of Divine Divinity puts the player character through plenty of ordeals. One of those involves getting captured and locked away in a dungeon, but thankfully they're saved by a white feline. Turns out it's actually the powerful wizard Arhu, who has been permanently turned into a cat by a spell. Maybe you don't think that counts, but there's also regular cats in the game who are just as cute. Arhu also appears many years later in Divinity: Original Sin, although here he is retconned into being a cat originally that can morph into human form instead.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Tantei Jingūji Saburō Series No.9: Kind of Blue (2004/04/22)


The Tantei Jingūji Saburō series of detective stories is perhaps the longest-running Japanese adventure game / visual novel epos, but remained largely unknown everywhere else until some Nintendo DS releases that inexplicably renamed the titular protagonist to Jake Hunter, despite all the games distinctly taking place in Japan. In the ninth(!) episode, Saburō is very early on visited by this dark grey beauty on his doorstep, who then just proceeds to being his cat, as cats are sometimes wont to do. I haven't played too much of this game as my Japanese is not that good, but in the following few scenes the detective is mostly occupied with feeding and comforting the visitor, even as it takes over his desk chair as a bed.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Fatal Frame III: The Tormented (2005/07/28)


Fatal Frame is a series of very spooky games, so of course Ruri, the cat Rei and Miku have around the house, is of a deep black fur (albeit with a white belly that you rarely get to see in the game). But regardless of any superstitions revolving around black cats, she is not guilty of any of the supernatural goings-on and as tame as can be when Rey approaches it for a bit of paw-holding. She does seem to sense ghostly presences before humans do, though, so sometimes her reactions can seem a bit unsettling.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

No More Heroes (2006/12/06)


At first, it might come as a surprise that otaku and cold-blooded murderer Travis Touchdown has a furry friend, but Jeane the cat (who shares her name with both Travis' half-sister/former love interest and daughter - he is a very weird dude) is one of the most consistently recurring side characters in the series. In the original game, she is just a little kitten hanging around his motel room ready to receive a feeding, play session, or belly rub whenever the player feels like it.

In the sequel taking place several years later, one of the optional side quests is bringing a seriously overfead Jeane back into form by balancing a strict workout regimen with treats to keep her mood in check. Successfully restoring her to a healthy weight is rewarded with the opportunity to learn a new combat move from the cat's movements. But no matter your results in this goal, Jeane is back at her chunky self in all subsequent games.

Later in the series, it turns out that Jeane can talk (in a deep, manly voice no less) and perform many other cat-unlike feats, like floating around in a bubble to support Travis on site. In No More Heroes III it is also revealed she now has a litter of her own kittens and tasks Travis with finding them all around the city.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (2008/10/23)


After its genre-definig debut on the original PlayStation, the Tenchu series usually didn't innovate a whole lot between installments, but the fourth main title did shake things up quite a bit. While probably most remembered for jumping on the Wii motion controls bandwagon with a dull new combat system, Shadow Assassins also introduced a lot of new ways to interact with the environment.

Among the many added elements, cats can prove a help as well as a hindrance. An ordinary cat might alert guards of the ninjas' presence by running up to them and meowing, but the shinobi cat can be picked up and is handled like a new gadget instead. When letting it loose, the player gains control over the animal and can stroll around the map unbothered by enemies to scout out the territory. But that's not all! It can also pick up items and bring them back to the shinobi to use. That's what I'd call a cat burglar!

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Nintendogs + Cats (2011/02/26)


Nintendogs was one of the more unique Nintendo first party experiments for the DS that was all about using the system's unique hardware features to simulate having a dog as convincingly as possible without actually having a dog. Even though the 3DS sequel got a "plus cats" added to the title, it's still chiefly a game about dogs. Compared to the 27 different dog breeds (split across 3 separately sold versions of the game), there are only 3 types of cat available, and many interactions, such as training competitions and neighborhood walks, are not available for them - which makes sense enough.

That's OK, though. Dogs are neat, too, and there's still plenty of fun to be had with your kittens at home, though, as you can use the touch screen to interact and play with them directly. The textures and animations are extremely detailed and convincing for all the animals in the game, and the cats often behave as you would expect - climbing on furniture, harrassing the dogs for their toys, even hissing at their new roommates after first moving in. The strong commitment to verisimilitude also brings with it the game's biggest drawback, though: To play the game properly, you absolutely have to talk loudly into the 3DS' microphone to call your pets and give commands to your dogs, so there are a lot of situations where it's simply not practical to do at all.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

The Cat and the Coup (2011/06/11)


The Cat and the Coup was one of those early artsy indie games - quite literally as the whole game is played across a surrealist collage of artworks, mixing traditional islamic paintings with modern elements and photographic documents. You start the as a black cat sleeping at the feet of an old man on his deathbed, which we are told is Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. You then proceed following the history of his toppling by solving simple puzzles with usual cat shenanigans to send him tumbling down backwards the path of his undoing, eventually drowning him in oil to conclude the show - yes, it's a deeply political game as well. It's also very short - you can see the credits within les than fifteen minutes.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

The Evil Within (2014/10/14)


Another black cat in a super creepy horror game, this mysterious fellow only appears in the DLC quest starring supporting character Juli Kidman. Whenever the junior detective finds a dusty old sofa for a bit of respite in between all the horrors around her, the cat always seems to be close by to get comfortable on her lap - a necessary prerequisite to saving the game in this mode.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector (2015/10/20)


Without a doubt, the mobile app markets have their fair share of cat memeability cash ins, but Neko Atsume is the forefather and I daresay the best and most pure of them (without having playing any other ones). Some may say it's not a Real Game, seeing how all you do is buy cat toys and food and check in every once in a while to see who dropped in to enjoy the offerings. I'll instead propose that people who say this are not Real Gamers. Neko Atsume is the real deal.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Punch Club (2016/01/08)


Punch Club is a boxing career simulator with '80s hollywood nostalgia overkill, where you take your Rocky stand-in protagonist from the gutter to stardom. He also has a cute little cat called Fluffy in his appartement that you get to pat from time to time. Now the plot of the game has a whole bunch of absolute nonense in store for your furry friend (don't care about "spoiling" it but also don't care for retelling it all, so look it up if you really wanna know), but I'm just gonna go and judge Fluffy only by his regular presence in your home base.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Stray (2022/07/19)


Never mind the evocative dystopian setting based on the phenomenon of the Kowloon Walled City - or at least cultural imagenings thereof, the central marketing appeal of Stray was all about the promise of a cat game that actually plays like being a cat. And there's a lot of it in there, be it the opportunity to topple down anything that's not nailed onto a shelf, scratching carpets, or walking over keyboards to create a string of nonsense on connected computer screens, even though some of it feels token-esque.

To me, the best part of the game was the opening sequence, where you start out in the middle of a group of cats, get to interact with them like cats, and make your way across dizzying heights together in a post-apocalyptic, reclaimed-by-nature feeling kind of world. In these parts, the animations and attention to detail for believable cat behavior truly get to shine.

But soon you lose your companions and end up in a dark and grimey cyberpunk city, where the game at the same time seems to lose a bit of faith in its own premise. You find a sentient drone who serves as your guide and interpreter, enabling you to converse with the robot retainers of the city. It also equips you with some kind of cyber backpack, which servers as your inventory and later even doubles a weapon for some misplaced counterviolence against the weird parasitic monsters populating the darker depths, so eventually it all starts to feel a lot more like any old action adventure game. At least in the end you're freed from all that nonsense and conclude the game with the promise of just being a cat again, so maybe there's hope for a more committed sequel.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Tekken 8 (2024/01/26)


I haven't played Tekken 8 since it's not out yet as I write this, but to be honest I'm not planning to, anyway. So I rate Salt (superb name already) solely from the character trailer of cat caretaker Lili, which I guess what introduced as a spoiled rich brat some episodes ago but then dropped for a while, who can even tell all these characters apart anymore? Salt only appears in the pre- and post-fight animations for Lili, but absolutely steals the show even in such a short time, all while sporting a look that says: "I'd rather be napping right now!"

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

Little Kitty Big City (2024)


Another game that isn't out yet, but I played the demo last year. (You can't try it right now cause it was part of the asinine trend of indie devs taking down their demos after Steam Next fest.) It was already fun enough, with even more cat-specific behaviors than Stray, but as with the earlier game, some elements again felt like more attention was paid to social media marketability than interesting play. Here's hoping the priorities got straightened out a bit before the big release. Judged by its own appeal, the cat in the game is already A+ material though, even while I feel conflicted about the concept of putting cats into costumes for entertainment. (Sure, it's just a virtual one, but I think it kinda goes towards perpetuating the idea that cats enjoy/are cool with that?)

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★

More Cats


Here are a few more cats I happened to have screenshots of. Most of these aren't prominent enough in the games to say much about (there are a surprisingly large number of felines found in 2D fighting game backgrounds!) but it'd be a shame to miss out on them entirely.

Fighter's History

Street Fighter Alpha

Street Fighter III

Real Bout Fatal Fury 2

Guilty Gear Isuka

The King of Fighters XXI

Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!!!

Super Win the Game

Dark Devotion

Vendetta: Curse of Raven's Cry

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

In memory of Oddy, who was a awesome real cat that didn't care about video games, but cared about making sure you don't pay too much attention to them.

Cuteness Rating

★★★★★★★★★★

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