Cats are magnificent creatures. Some are cute and cuddly. Others are snide or silly. If you don’t own one, you can at least live vicariously through photos that highlight all their incredible and hilarious attributes. Here are the 100 most important cat pictures of all time!
100. The Magician’s Apprentice
Why It Matters: This one is important because cats almost never use their magical powers in public.
99. The Fashion Icon
Why It Matters: Most people think that high fashion is pretty subjective, but most people have not seen this cat and her perfect, beautiful, infinitely elegant synthesis of form and function.
98. The Closet Dweller
Why It Matters: This picture symbolizes perseverance in the pursuit of a genuinely bad idea, which is essentially the entire reason anything important ever happens in the first place.
97. The Cat Who Caught Her Owner in the Act of Stealing Her Ice Cream
Why It Matters: Because we must always stand up in the face of injustice, and because it is rare to see a picture of a cat who is very clearly saying, “Oh no you didn’t!”
96. The Existential Cat with His Existential Duck
Why It Matters: Why does anything matter?
95. The Upside-Down Faucet Drinker
Why It Matters: Because have you ever stopped to consider that it’s actually you who is looking at the world upside-down, and this cat is just having a perfectly normal drink of water?
94. The Bodyguard
Why It Matters: Because in about 10 seconds the cat on the couch is going to say “It’s not my blood! It’s not me! Wait! He’s my bodyguard! Get some help! Stay with me! Frank! Stay with me!” and we’re all going to cry our goddamn eyes out.
93. The Cat with Buns
Why It Matters: Because of the buns! The buns.
92. The Cat Who Loved Too Much
Why It Matters: Because of the complex relationship between this cat’s actions and his facial expression. “To love at all is to be vulnerable,” says C.S. Lewis; so it follows that to love too much is to be positively paranoid.
91. Inception Cat
Why It Matters: Because this is the way the world ends — not with a bang, but with a cat who is hugging a cat who is hugging another cat.
90. The Morris Fan
Why It Matters: Because, deep down, we are all Morris fans, whether we know it or not.
89. Cat Asleep on a Boy in the Back of the Car
Why It Matters: BECAUSE OF THE SAD BACKPACK.
88. Protective Mom Cat
Why It Matters: Primarily because the kitten is like, “I can’t wait to discover what life has in store for me!” and the mom is like, “Nope.”
87. Disaffected Kitten
Why It Matters: Because the world is a sad and troubling and often extremely disappointing place and we may as well learn that as early as possible in life.
“It was in his nature to do it. The doctor says there are such boys springing up amongst us—boys of a sort unknown in the last generation—the outcome of new views of life. They seem to see all its terrors before they are old enough to have staying power to resist them. He says it is the beginning of the coming universal wish not to live.”
– Thomas Hardy, basically talking about this kitten, in Jude the Obscure
86. The Friendly Kisser
Why It Matters: Because you know you’ve found a lifelong friend when they let you lick their face with this much enthusiasm.
85. The Mirror Stage
Why It Matters: Because the moment of apperceptively turning yourself into an object is as traumatic as it is transformative, especially if you have a wonky mirror.
84. The Couch Potato
Why It Matters: Because, yes, sure, it is a sly modern wink to the themes of passivity and enervation in Sargent’s famous “Repose” painting, but mainly because a world in which people take the time to make tiny couches for their cats is a world that is clearly going places.
83. Big Me, Little Me
Why It Matters: Because Wordsworth tells us that “the child is father of the man,” and if Wordsworth had met these cats, he would probably also at least mention how freaking cute their noses are.
82. The Piano Biter
Why It Matters: Because life is a piano that is set before us to play, and this is usually how that ends up looking.
81. The Balloon Popper
Why It Matters: Because SOMETIMES, life is actually a balloon that is set before us to pop, and we totally nail it.
80. The Cool Customer
Why It Matters: Because every grown-up who ever told you that “being cool means being yourself” is wrong. Being cool means wearing dark sunglasses and just straight up falling asleep somewhere you probably shouldn’t.
79. The Tiny Taco Rejecter
Why It Matters: Because life is as much about what we stand against as what we stand for. And if we cannot stand up against the tiny tacos that displease us, what will we fall for next?
78. The World’s Worst Nap
Why It Matters: Because to be comfortable is to be complacent, and we will never discover new frontiers if we don’t occasionally contort ourselves into new forms.
77. The World’s Best Nap
Why It Matters: Because if we promise always to be restless, we will one day change into the thing we always wanted to be.
76. The Loyal Friend
Why It Matters: Because love is our true destiny.
75. The Selfie Disaster
Why It Matters: Because even if our selfies are doomed to fail, we will never know how they could be if we fail even to try.
74. The Most Delicious Burger
Why It Matters: Because, as Oscar Wilde is known to have said, “Between cats and burgers there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”
73. Cat and Cow, Cow and Cat
Why It Matters: Because when a cat is chased through a field by her cow doppelgänger, it is one of the first signs of the Cute Apocalypse™.
72. The Box of Delights
Why It Matters: Because of the surprisingly earnest assurance this pair has that being in a filing crate together is the most natural and unremarkable thing they could possibly be doing.
71. The Shadow Fighter
Why It Matters: A lot of cat philosophers have speculated that the world we experience is little more than shadows cast by the light of an unimaginably brighter reality, but up until this kitten, no one had ever really bothered to test the theory.
70. The “Caught in the Act”
Why It Matters: Because even in the very throes of passion, cats are able to maintain a constant sense of mild exasperation.
69. The Cross-Dresser
Why It Matters: Because the only thing more important than being true to yourself is being as fabulous as possible while you’re at it.
68. The Loaf of Bread
Why It Matters: Because, while the Bible is fairly clear that we shall not live on bread alone, there’s nowhere in there that says we can’t occasionally sit around pretending to be a fresh-baked loaf if it suits us.
67. The Bust
Why It Matters: Because you should never let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.
66. The Observer
Why It Matters: Don’t worry about why it matters. Just get back to what you were doing and pretend you never noticed us.
65. The Contemplative
Why It Matters: Because if you have a face this fluffy, you need to spend a lot of time quietly reflecting on it.
64. The Displeased Customer
Why It Matters: Why does it matter? Honestly, that sort of question is exactly why the standards of this establishment have fallen so embarrassingly low.
63. The Simple Pleasure
Why It Matters: Because, to paraphrase Yeats, “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply a vacuum cleaner on our heads. We are happy when we have a vacuum cleaner on our heads.”
62. The Rock Bed
Why It Matters: Because we may be lying in the gutters, but at least we didn’t pass out in a bush somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
61. The Surprise Attack
Why It Matters: Because no matter how soft and bright-eyed it seems at the time, our youth will eventually betray us.
60. The Impending Disaster
Why It Matters: Because houseplants deserve better than this, frankly, but fate takes us all prisoner.
59. The Window Dressing
Why It Matters: Because of that R.E.M. song:
Yeah all those stars drip down like butter
And promises are sweet
We hold out our pans with our hands to catch them
We eat them up, drink them up, up, up, up
Heyyyyyyyyyyy, let me in
Heyyyyyyyyyyy, let me in
58. The Rainstorm
Why It Matters: Because the real villain of this piece is not the weather, but the heartless genius who saw that face and stopped to take a picture.
57. The Dance
Why It Matters: “At the still point of the turning world … there the dance is.” So Eliot tells us, and though he never told us that this is what it would look like, this is essentially how we imagined it.
56. The Feather Duster
Why It Matters: Because if we can’t persevere in the face of the physically impossible, what can we persevere in the face of?
55. The Forbidden Lovers
Why It Matters: Because love is confusing and strange and difficult and uncomfortable and unbelievably inconvenient. But above all, love is transcendent.
54. The Yogurt Dilemma
Why It Matters: Because, to this day, along with the Riemann Hypothesis and the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture, the Yogurt Dilemma has never been solved.
53. The New Home
Why It Matters: Because of the classiness and quality of that hat. Among other things. (Such as the water leaking, unprompted, from our eyes just now.)
52. The “I’ll Protect You”
Why It Matters: Because no act of aggression is as fierce or as insuppressible as a true act of protection.
51. The “Doesn’t Love It”
Why It Matters: Because a cat who actually loves wearing an inflatable horn is rarer than a horse with a real one.
50. The Mimic
Why It Matters: Because you are the one who is absurd and illogical, and these cats are frankly surprised that you would deign to judge them.
49. The Little Red Riding Hood
Why It Matters: Because the wolf, the wolf, the wolf, was hiding inside our very souls all along.
48. The Miracle
Why It Matters: Because, if I am not mistaken, that is a 2008 bottle of Rosé Coteaux d’Aix sitting, unfinished, in the middle of the table. A true miracle.
47. The Pallbearers
Why It Matters: Because no matter how you choose to present yourself in life, people will respect you if you have an entourage.
46. The Meeting
Why It Matters: Because this is the first ever recorded instance of a baby under 2 years old saying, “Oh, you!”
45. The Surprise Kiss
Why It Matters: Because love is always surprising, but a tongue on the back of the neck is more surprising still.
44. The Harry Potter
Why It Matters: Because wizarding always matters, but cat wizarding matters double.
43. The Monorail
Why It Matters: Because as we slide along the monorail track that is our life, we should remember, occasionally, to dangle our little paws over the side.
42. The Foul Play
Why It Matters: Or is it The Foreplay? Honestly, it can be tough to tell sometimes.
41. The Sleep Innovation
Why It Matters: Because we’ve all been sleeping wrong this whole time.
40. The Scandal!
Why It Matters: Because there are some things so shameful that even your cat can’t unsee them.
39. The Watchmen
Why It Matters: Because, as the famous cat poet Cat Juvenal asks us: “Quis custodiet ipsos feles?” which translates roughly as “Somebody should tell that squirrel to find another windowsill.”
38. The Morning Routine
Why It Matters: Primarily because a man wears a suit, and not the other way around, which is a way of saying that we should never let our jobs define us, or, as this cat puts it: “I prefer, infinitely, to be naked.”
37. The Weight Watcher
Why It Matters: Because, when the time comes for our souls to be weighed on the great cosmic scales of justice, we will have no choice but to clutch the toilet and look concerned.
36. The Quitter
Why It Matters: Because sometimes, to be brutally honest, it’s just not worth it.
35. The Reading
Why It Matters: Honestly, because a world in which it is sometimes the case that children learn to read by reading to shelter cats is a world that is quite possibly worth keeping around.
34. The Spy
Why It Matters: Because if you look very closely at this picture, you will realize that it is not, as it first seems, a boring picture of a paper bag with a hole in it, but in fact a picture of an incredibly well-disguised cat.
33. The Passenger
Why It Matters: Because, as the great American poet Iggy Pop says of this picture:
We’ll be the passenger
We’ll ride through the city tonight
We’ll see the city’s ripped backsides
We’ll see the bright and hollow sky
We’ll see the stars that shine so bright
Stars made for us tonight
Which is both profound and true, even though the ride is going to be a fairly short one with a potentially disastrous ending.
32. The World’s Cutest Kitten
Why It Matters: Because of the tastefully striped duvet, and because of the way it matches those eyes, which contain multitudes.
31. The Commander
Why It Matters: Because it is an awful lot harder than you might imagine to pull off this level of authority and gravitas while wearing a Chinese food delivery box on your head.
30. The Alexander the Great
Why It Matters: Because you have not truly lived until you have seen a domestic shorthair weeping because he has no more worlds to conquer.
29. The Loyal Friend 2
Why It Matters: Because we do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another.
28. The Creepy Sitter
Why It Matters: Because, to paraphrase Wordsworth, “To be alive in that dawn was bliss, but to sit creepily on the stairs was very heaven.”
27. The Protective Boyfriend
Why It Matters: Because, while most people tire very quickly of a “tough guy” act, no one will ever get tired of that furry little face, or the fact that a cat has a girlfriend in the first place.
26. The Hiding Place
Why It Matters: Because this cat is trying to tell you that when you hide your love behind a curtain of indifference, you should first make sure that your feet aren’t showing.
25. The Captain
Why It Matters: Because if you work hard, you will achieve your dreams. If those dreams are to literally be the captain of a box, that’s on you.
24. The Batman
Why It Matters: Because this is the cat picture we deserve, but not the one we need right now.
23. The Penguin
Why It Matters: Because where The Batman lurks, The Penguin cannot be far behind.
22. The Chris Hansen
Why It Matters: Because when a cat like this says, “Why don’t you have a seat over there?” people listen.
21. The Ascension
Why It Matters: Because this is merely the first miracle we will see from this cat today.
20. The Apotheosis
Why It Matters: Not, as you might think, because the tabby is literally ascending into heaven, but because of the fact that the event has only inspired an at best tepid curiosity in his disciple.
19. The Cha-Cha
Why It Matters: Because if someone had told you before you saw this picture that the daintiest two-step you ever did see would be not by a princess at a high-society ball, but by a lowly farm cat outside a barn, you’d never have believed them. But now you will tell the world.
18. The Bus Driver
Why It Matters: Because we are all driven by different impulses, but those of us who are driven by a blue cardboard cat bus are clearly going places.
17. The Shepherd
Why It Matters: Because of the famous passage in Isaiah that I am fairly sure says something like, “The kitten also shall dwell with the lambe, and that is literally all you need to know about anything.”
16. The Family Photo
Why It Matters: Because family always matters.
15. The Cat Upskirt
Why It Matters: Cats, they’re just like us. And, by “just like us,” I mean that cats are monsters.
14. Standing Cat
Why It Matters: Because of this cat’s famous utterance, which some cat historians think was the catalyst for the Cat Reformation: “Here I stand. I can do no other. Also, there is a squirrel.”
13. Filing Cabinet Cat
Why It Matters: Because now that you have seen this picture, for the rest of your life you will check under “C” every time you open a filing cabinet. Just in case.
12. The Sweater Antagonist
Why It Matters: Because, when life’s sweaters assail us with their wooly tyranny, we have no choice but to stand up, raise our claws, and fight.
11. Happy Birthday Dennis
Why It Matters: Because any of us would agree that no humiliation is too great, no misery too unendurable if it means that our efforts will make Dennis’s birthday even one iota happier.
10. The Lamp Shade
Why It Matters: Because of Psalm 119 in the Cat Bible, which says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And even though there be a cat in that lamp, I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.”
9. The Kitten Pushing an Even Smaller Kitten in a Tiny Shopping Cart
Why It Matters: Because — and bear with me here — we are all but tiny kittens in the tiny shopping cart that is our path to righteousness, and the larger kitten that is Perseverance … oh, forget it. It’s because of how insanely adorable these cats are, OK?
8. Friends in the Car Seat
Why It Matters: Because if you look at this picture long enough, your heart will explode.
7. The General
Why It Matters: Because it is written that in the time of our direst need, when the world truly yearns for a leader to guide us out of the darkness, we will find not the leader we want, nor even the leader we expect, but a cat wearing a diaper on his head like a helmet and that will be basically fine.
6. The Here’s Johnny
Why It Matters: Because, in addition to all work and no play making your cat a dull boy, it was fairly inconsiderate of you to close the bathroom door when someone might be interested in joining you.
5. The Fence Licker
Why It Matters: Because we should not stand idly by when someone tries to put a fence between us and those we love. Technically, we probably shouldn’t just sit there and lick that fence either, but that is beside the point.
4. The “I’m Having a Bad Time” Cat
Why It Matters: Because of the gentle reminder that our perch upon the railings of life is fragile, and also because WE TOLD YOU THAT WE DIDN’T WANT TO GO OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
3. The Sudden Realization
Why It Matters: Cat scholars dispute whether this is a beautiful reference to the moment when Pericles, Prince of Tyre, realized that he would set sail one more time to find his lost daughter Marina, or a stark depiction of the joyless acquisitiveness that besets the modern Cats of Wall Street, but most cat academics agree that this little guy is as cute as a button.
2. The Existential Birthday
Why It Matters: “Quid est enim tempus?” asks Augustine of Hippo. “Quis hoc facile breuiterque explicauerit?” “What is time? And who can explain it?” What most people don’t realize is that Augustine actually asked this at his birthday party and pretty much bummed everyone out.
1. The Baby and the Swing
Why It Matters: Because when all is said and done on the other side of an infinite expanse of time, if even one of those moments was a cat sitting with a baby in a swing, there is a chance that everything is going to be all right.
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