There are few animals so heavily revered worldwide as the cat, and the Japanese are no exception. Anime features hundreds and hundreds of cats of all types.
They can mean lots of different things to different people and come in all different sorts and genres.
Today I’ll be looking at 25 of my favorite: magic cats, transforming human cats, comedic relief cats, emotionally impactful cats, talking cats, and quiet cats!
- Best Anime Cats
- 25. Nekotalia – Hetalia
- 24. Korin – Dragon Ball
- 23. Chomusuke – Konosuba
- 22. Blair – Soul Eater
- 21. Kuroneko – Trigun
- 20. Happy – Fairy Tale
- 19. Kuro – Blue Exorcist
- 18. Aria Pokoteng – Aria the Animation
- 17. Mao – Darker Than Black
- 16. Shamisen – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- 15. Jiji – Kiki’s Delivery Service
- 14. Takkun – Flcl
- 13. Sakamoto – Nichijou!
- 12. Artemis, Diana, and Luna – Sailor Moon
- 11. Bananya – Bananya
- 10. Daru – She and Her Cat: Everything Flows
- 9. The Baron – Whisper of the Heart / The Cat Returns
- 8. Arthur – Code Geass
- 7. Meowth – Pokémon
- 6. Morgana – Persona 5 Animation
- 5. Puck – Re:Zero
- 4. Yoruichi – Bleach
- 3. Chi – Chi’s Sweet Home
- 2. Catbus – My Neighbor Totoro
- 1. Kaya – Ghost Stories
Best Anime Cats
25. Nekotalia – Hetalia
The Nekotalia are my favorite aspect of the Hetalia franchise by far. They’re essentially the kitten equivalent of the main cast (and therefore of countries).
They perfectly summarized those characters into a cat-form, and I personally prefer it. You have Germany cat and Italy cat and France cat and – yeah, you get the gist!
It’s not that complex. It really is as simple as that.
24. Korin – Dragon Ball
Most people forget about Korin. I don’t forget about Korin. Where is my medal?
Originally viewed as a Martial Arts Master before Dragon Ball Z’s events, Korin was revered by many – including his disciple Goku, who he would watch over day and night.
He’s immortal, incredibly wise, and some of the minor decisions and moments involving Korin have minor but detrimental lasting impacts later into the series. He may look a lot like a mouse, but he’s definitely a cat, trust me.
23. Chomusuke – Konosuba
Chomusuke isn’t in Konosuba all too much, but whenever she’s on-screen, she always steals the show. She’s Megumin’s adorable little familiar.
Small, fluffy, and black, with a red cross mark on her forehead to really sell Megumin’schunni tendencies.
Despite being her familiar, she is far more familiar and comfortable sleeping and resting on Kazuma’s head whenever she isn’t spitting fire like her owner.
22. Blair – Soul Eater
Due to being a Monster Cat, Blair’s original and true form is a small kitty with a spiral tail and witches hat, however, she can also transform into a human version of herself – usually without any clothes.
That does mean Blair is occasionally used for fan service, however, which is either a shame or a good thing depending on what kind of viewer you are.
Nonetheless, she’s still a character with a backstory and arc and isn’t just there for ecchi reasons.
Her spells are mostly themes around pumpkins and explosions and considering she’s introduced so early into the series, we get to see her blow up quite a few enemies throughout!
21. Kuroneko – Trigun
Kuroneko is a really neat character in that, well, it’s hardly a character at all. Somewhat like the aliens of South Park, Kuroneko is in every single episode of the show in some way.
It could be prowling in the background, hung up in a poster, or merely sitting there. Our main cast will hardly notice, but we will!
The best way to describe Kuroneko would be ‘simple,’ not only in aesthetic design (color block shading and a simple palette) but in its inclusion in the series!
20. Happy – Fairy Tale
Happy is perhaps the most recognizable element of Fairy Tale. I have seen his face plastered on everything from T-shirts to umbrellas.
He’s the show’s comic relief, often getting into slapstick run-ins with both main cast and antagonist.
His design is cat-like, for certain. And… They are a cat. However, something about Happy has always looked off to me – as if it’s really a man in a mascot suit.
That works to the shows favor, enhancing the comedy of the show thanks to Happy’s uncanny appearance.
19. Kuro – Blue Exorcist
Kuro was originally a god tasked with protecting humans from his shrine. When they abandoned him and destroyed that shrine, he turned wrathful and angry and needed to be stopped by the main cast from going berserk.
Once they saved Kuro, it changed form to a small feline demon and decided to join them.
He *does* look like a cat, however, there are some striking differences that make him stand out, such as his pendant collar, tiny horns, and eccentric tail.
18. Aria Pokoteng – Aria the Animation
The titular character of the series – though not the main character – Pokoteng is not only the undine’s signifier for good luck but the Aria Company’s President.
He’s an Aqua breed capable and originally a stray before being rescued by Grandma. He’s chubby, enthusiastic, and provides a lot of the heart of Aria throughout.
17. Mao – Darker Than Black
After losing his original body, Mao managed to preserve himself inside of a cat. Given the code HM-432, he’s tasked with the connectivity of the operations due to being cognitively wired to the network.
He can use his abilities to control or possess animals’ bodies, making him a key member of the team in certain circumstances.
His attitude is rather sarcastic and solemn, likely due to his unfortunate circumstances, but there are still moments of heart that highlight how integral to the team he is.
16. Shamisen – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Shamisen is cute, contextually important to the narrative, and can speak – sometimes! In one universe, Shamisen was saved by Haruhi and accidentally embedded with a deep, monotonous voice.
He would speak in riddles or generally discussed philosophical and axiological aspects of the universe. However, in the other universe, Shamisen is a normal and adorable cat.
Either way, he was a treat to hear, thanks to the voice acting of Michael McConnohie in the dub!
15. Jiji – Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kiki is a newly graduated witch eager to make her own path in life. She decides to take up being a postwoman on her flying broom, and Jiji accompanies her on her adventures!
Depending on whether you’re watching the dub or the sub, Jiji can be either humble or cynical (and Kiki can’t even talk to him anymore in the dub), but either way, they’re endearing and one of the most memorable aspects of the entire film.
He’s one of the best Ghibli cats by far, yet there’s still so much more to go!
14. Takkun – Flcl
Takkun looks a lot like Kuroneko from Trigun and Sakamoto from Nichijou, thanks to an overly simplistic aesthetic that gives them plenty of expression and character.
Mamimi takes them in midway through FLCL and provides dosages of comedy throughout the series! He also serves as a fantastic way for Studio Gainax to flex their creative chops, providing plentiful moments of sakuga glory with some brilliant key-framing that really brings him alive.
13. Sakamoto – Nichijou!
Sakamoto is one of the most hilarious cats by far – able to communicate with the cute red scalf around its neck, it is rude and disrespectful to nearly everybody around them unless they praise him for simply being a cat (and therefore kind-of older in cat years).
He’s featured all the way throughout the show, usually with his owner Hasaki, and accompanies most of the funniest scenes. Massive kudos for making such a simple design so iconic and wonderfully expressive!
12. Artemis, Diana, and Luna – Sailor Moon
How could I not include these three?
Not only are their designs iconic and wonderful, with the small, often seen moon motif emblazoned on their forehead and wavy upright tails, but they’re some of the wisest and most important characters throughout Sailor Moon.
Luna and Artemis are there from the beginning, more or less, and existed eons before the start of the show. It’s thanks to them that our main cast of Senshi realizes their powers and become magical girls.
Diana, the smallest of the trio, is the time-traveling child of both Luna and Artemis and adds a perfect balance to the cat cast. They all have their badass and adorable moments, but Artemis is my personal favorite.
11. Bananya – Bananya
Okay, hear me out. Bananya is the main character of Bananya however, everyone else is also a Bananya and also called Bananya but with a tag to signify their character – such as ToraBananya, Elder Bananya, MikeBananya.
However, Bananya – only Bananya– is the character I’ll be talking about. Like the other Bananyas, Bananya is half banana and cat. He is a cheerful, comedic banana cat.
Though prone to the occasional mischief, he usually makes amends by the end and saves the day – usually! What else is there to say? Bananya.
10. Daru – She and Her Cat: Everything Flows
Daru is the main character of Everything Flows, the gorgeously simple yet wonderfully animated movie by Makoto Shinkai.
He’s an elderly black cat who appreciates and adores his owner, Miyu, and we experience the story through his eyes as he reminisces over their meeting and the love he holds for her.
He’s a respectful, pleasant, and adoring cat with a solemn yet lovely disposition – all made even more wonderful thanks to the incredible animation.
9. The Baron – Whisper of the Heart / The Cat Returns
The soft-spoken gentleman cat, Baron Humbert von Gikkingeh, originally appeared in one of my favorite Ghibli films, Whisper of the Heart.
There, he was a statue-turned-character, standing more as a symbol for the main character than a real person.
However, it was eluded to that the Baron did in fact exist, hence the statue! The Cat Returns explores this, giving us a pure-fantasy flick featuring plenty of the Baron and his wonderful sensibilities.
By far, he’s one of the most iconic cat characters in Studio Ghibli’s portfolio, which automatically makes him one of the most iconic in anime.
8. Arthur – Code Geass
Arthur is a weird character. He hardly has to be in the series at all! But I’m glad he is. He’s symbolic of the simpler, slice-of-life elements of the story and main cast.
Suzaku saved him around the same time he met Nunnally and becomes his familiar – more or less.
He’s usually in the background, featured in scenes with Suzaku primarily, aside from one spectacular episode wherein he donned the Zero helmet and ran around the school grounds with it. He’s also somewhat of a biter, but only with Suzaku, thankfully.
7. Meowth – Pokémon
One of the most iconic and identifiable cats on this list, for sure. Meowth is special for numerous reasons.
His name sounds like meow; he’s technically one of the main antagonists and mirror opposite Pikachu; he can legitimately talk to humans (which is remarkably rare); he’s sarcastic and funny tries his best, essentially running Team Rocket for his incapable teammates.
Over and over, he proves himself only to mess up entirely and start from scratch. He’s also the reason for a number of the more emotional moments throughout the show, and I’m sure Team Rocket would be nowhere near as spectacular without his inclusion.
6. Morgana – Persona 5 Animation
Morgana is one of the first characters you meet in Persona 5, and serves as the Teddy (Persona 4) of the game and anime, showing a distinct knowledge and understanding of Mementos and the workings of the collective unconscious.
He is a small and mysterious cat with anthropomorphized elements, standing upright and wearing human clothing like a scarf and utility belt. In the real world, he takes on a regular black tuxedo cat’s appearance and orders Ren to go to bed.
5. Puck – Re:Zero
Puck is probably one of the most vocal cats on this list, too, as they are the constant familiar of the show’s main female character.
He’s a small spirit living inside Emilia’s necklace and emerges between 09:00 and 17:00 before resting throughout the night.
They’re jokey and lovable, showing genuine care for Emilia and those she cares for, however, Puck can turn into a monstrous other forms when required.
Despite being able to transform, Puck often remains in their base tiny-cat body and uses ice magic for any offense.
4. Yoruichi – Bleach
Yoruichi is an exceptional case here, but hear me out. Throughout her introduction and occasionally after, she presumes a smallblack cat form and, even while in their human form, carry motifs and expressions reminiscent of the years she spent as a cat.
She was the former captain of the Special Forces but estranged herself from the Soul Society to hide as a feline among the land of the living.
They are sharp, intelligent, exceptionally strategic, and sly. Known as the Demon Cat by many, Yoruichi is as feared by many in-universe as people in ours love her.
3. Chi – Chi’s Sweet Home
Chi had to be up here somewhere. The entire manga/anime, Chi’s Sweet Home, chronicles the titular character’s story as they adjust to and come to love a family that takes them in off the streets.
The episodes and chapters are incredibly short, allowing a sharp and snappy narrative with both cute and comedic elements seamlessly spliced together.
Chi is a wonder to follow, appreciative and grateful of the smallest parts of life and making them a lovable character in every way.
They are the cat of anime, to me. However, there are two others that just squeeze them out of the top place…
2. Catbus – My Neighbor Totoro
Catbus is amazing in concept alone, quite frankly. He was originally shown in My NeighbourTotoro as an ever-helpful service to call on in need.
However, in Kittenbus (a short film released way after), we can see him in his earnest and childish origin story!
Half cat and half bus, with 12 stumpy legs and a frantic expression of determination upon his face, Catbus is as frighteningly reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat as he is of an under-paid Japanese transit worker.
1. Kaya – Ghost Stories
In the original (sub) version of Ghost Stories, Kaya was an ordinary cat that was possessed by a spirit.
Given a sardonic personality and the ability to talk, Kaya would make regular insights and observations – sometimes sarcastic – but generally watch over the main cast.
When the series completely flopped, but they still had the license and intention to dub it for a Western release, they threw their hands up and gave complete control of the project over to the English cast.
What resulted was the Ghost Stories, known by most, a black comedy with some of the crudest and funniest jokes in all of anime.
Kaya was transformed into a weed-smoking, rude, offensive cat that wouldn’t stand for any of the main cast’s stupidity – and it was a change for the better, honestly.
This Kaya has the most assertive and memorable personality from this whole list, by far, and that’s why he gets first place!