It's hard to pinpoint one thing Disney does best, but if we had to choose, it would be animation. Disney practically set the bar for animated movies after producing its first animated picture in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. From there on, Disney continued spinning old stories and fairytales into beloved movies for all ages. Although we all love Disney's princesses who feature in many of them, the fun animal sidekicks come in a close second.
When we think about all of the impactful animated animals Disney has created, we can't help but think of the notable cats. From jungle cats to house cats, Disney has created iconic characters based on them all. But which ones are the best of the best? Each cat has their own strengths and flaws, but these 10 continue to come out on top. Although some mainstream cats may be missing from this article (sorry, Simba), their replacements deserve a moment in the spotlight.
10 NALA (The Lion King)
While many of you may be confused as to why Simba or Mufassa aren't on this list, hear us out. Simba and Mufassa are the kinds of cats that get all the glory. Mufassa was a once-in-a-lifetime king who could never be replaced, but if there was one cat who could stand up to the challenge, it would be Simba.
Did Simba take up the challenge after his father died and he was threatened by his uncle? No, he ran away! Who did stay to endure the cruelty for the safety and protection of her family? Nala! The only reason why she escaped—and accidentally found Simba—is because she was looking for food for her fellow lions. Nala is the real hero here and she deserves to be acknowledged (as does Sarabi!).
9 RAJAH (Aladdin)
Rajah may not have as many scenes as Iago or Abu do in Aladdin, but he deserves some major credit.
Rajah is bold and strong and protects Princess Jasmine from perceived threats like Jafar (and even Aladdin at one point). Plus, how many tigers would be okay with living the comforts of human life and not roaming the jungle? Rajah is protective and strong, yet very affectionate. So many of us wanted our own safety blanket like him.
8 THE CHESHIRE CAT (Alice In Wonderland)
Upon first meeting the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, he seemed mighty creepy. With the ability to turn invisible, you never knew when he was lurking or when he was going to pop up. He's both mysterious and mischievous, leaving viewers unsure if they could trust him.
As mysterious as the Cheshire Cat is, he was an important part of the Disney animated film, because he's constantly getting Alice in trouble. We wouldn't necessarily call Cheshire Cat a villain, but he doesn't help Alice in her time of need much either. He's an unforgettable enigma.
7 BAGHEERA (The Jungle Book)
Bagheera was a sight for sore eyes in Disney's The Jungle Book. After being introduced to Shere Khan, many viewers assumed most of the jungle cats in this show would be dangerous, but not Bagheera. This sweet panther was very protective of the man-cub Mowgli and did what he could to ensure he lived when he left his wolf pack.
Baloo may get all the credit for being Mowgli's closest confidant, but it's Bagheera who gets Mowgli out of the jungle alive.
6 FIGARO (Pinnochio)
Pinnochio's Figaro doesn't have any speaking lines, but he didn't need them. Viewers knew his personality simply by watching him follow Geppetto around. He was playful and curious, like most cats, but some would say he resembled Peter Pan's Tinker Bell in personality.
Loving his owner very much, Figaro comes off as jealous and spoiled at times. Then again, he's just a kitten. Besides, we're not the only ones who adore Figaro: Walt Disney himself liked the character so much that he made him Minnie Mouse's pet!
5 THOMAS O'MALLEY (The Aristocats)
Is Duchess a great mother? Absolutely! Did she single-handedly save her kittens from despair after being separated from their owner, though? No, Thomas O'Malley did. Duchess may have led her children to safety, but it was Thomas that was leading Duchess.
Without Thomas's boy-like wonder and knowledge of travel, Madame wouldn't have ever been reunited with Duchess and her three kittens. He saved Marie from drowning, he got them food when they were starving, he brought them to Paris... Without Thomas, Duchess and her kittens had no chance.
4 TIGGER (Winnie The Pooh)
Some fans tend to forget that Disney created Winnie the Pooh. The adorable story of talking animals living inside Hundred Acre Wood makes us wish we could visit the woods ourselves and meet them.
Pooh Bear is the star of the show, but it's his friend Tigger that we're focusing on today. Tigger has so much energy and truly lives in the moment, which is really inspiring for a child. He is also different to any other character in Winnie the Pooh. Piglet is bashful, Pooh Bear is sleepy and always hungry, while Tigger lives his best life!
3 LUCIFER (Cinderella)
Even though Lucifer doesn't speak in Cinderella, he sure does enough damage to get noticed. Unlike every other animal who lived on the grounds, Lucifer was the only cat against Cinderella's happiness. He's clearly the spawn of Cinderella's two stepsisters and wretched stepmother.
He's spoiled and bored, which is a horrible combination. He's also entitled, even for a cat! His main goal throughout Cinderella is capturing Cindy's mice, but as we all know, that doesn't end well for him. We still admire his tenacity and dedication to the bad side, though.
2 MITTENS (Bolt)
As the most recent movie to appear on this list, Bolt was released in 2008 and starred a "superhero" pup named Bolt. After a shipping mishap, Bolt is misplaced in New York City instead of Hollywood's rolling hills. We're not here to talk about Bolt, though, we're here to talk about the second main character in the film: Mittens the cat.
Mittens is a street cat living in New York City, who will do anything it takes to survive. She's strong, she's independent, and she knows how to get her way. Unlike some of the other cats on this list, instead of being cute and cuddly, Mittens is awfully dry and sarcastic, which separates her from the rest of these cats.
1 OLIVER (Oliver and Company)
Thirty years ago, Disney came out with an adorable movie about street pets vs. house pets, Oliver and Company. In the movie, we meet Oliver the cat as he tries to find a forever home. He meets a dog name Dogger who helps him make his way through New York City, but Oliver wasn't meant to be in the streets. He wanted a home and an owner to curl up with.
Oliver eventually finds a home with a young girl and we're brought on an adventure to help these two stay together. Regardless of the outcome, we watch Oliver go from a shy, unknowing kitten to a kitten chasing his dreams of a loving home.