Cats have clawed their way into our homes and hearts for thousands of years. As any cat lover can attest, a cat’s affection is hard-won — their loyalty harder still. So when a cat decides to be a devoted ally to a human, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Because of this, cats undoubtedly make the purrfect sidekick.
Scientists believe that cats were domesticated over 12,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise of the agriculture industry. It turned out that cats were not only cute, but were also extremely efficient at catching mice and other vermin that infested grain stores. Over time, people selected the more docile and friendly ones to be their companions (or did they choose us), and they’ve been with us ever since!
“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” – Terry Pratchett
The ancient Egyptians took cat companionship very seriously. The goddess Bastet had the head of a cat, so cats were viewed as sacred and to harm a cat was considered a sin. Cats were so well-loved that they were sometimes even mummified with their owners, earning a spot by their owner’s side in the afterlife.
Not that kind of cat mummy! Source
During the Middle Ages in Europe, cats were often associated with witches. A common belief in folklore of that era is that a witch had a “familiar,” an animal sidekick, that helped them in their magical activities. While dogs, owls, and toads were common witches familiars in those days, the black cat, in particular, has endured as the witches familiar to this day.
Arthur Rackham, The Witches Sabbath (1924) Source
There are many examples of the black-cat-as-sidekick in pop culture today. The characters Sabrina Spellman and the black cat, Salem (of both Sabrina: The Teenage Witch and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), are a classic example.
Salem of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a more traditional familiar for Sabrina, and they can psychically communicate with each other. He’s a demon who has sworn to be her lifelong companion and protector.
Salem Saberhagen, of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, is famous for his cute antics and sardonic, and often super-relatable, remarks. While Salem is only grudgingly Sabrina’s sidekick (since he is actually a witch who’s been turned into a cat as punishment for trying to take over the world), he nevertheless is a true friend and companion and often helps save Sabrina’s life.
Salem Saberhagen Source
Another witch with an absolutely adorable black-colored familiar is Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) and her kitty, Jiji. Flying around town on her broom, Kiki brings Jiji with her everywhere, and he even helps her with her deliveries!
Kiki and Jiji Source
Azrael from the Smurfs is another cute cat sidekick in the form of a witch’s familiar. Well, in this case, he’s the familiar of a warlock named, Gargamel. Always trying to capture the Smurfs to steal their magic, these two are notoriously a couple of bumbling, ineffectual villains. Regardless, they manage to bring a smile to our faces.
Gargamel and Azrael, foiled again Source
Villainous lap cats make up another kind of extremely popular cat sidekick. We owe the image of a scoundrel plotting while petting their purring partner to the James Bond super-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his white fluffy Persian cat, Oliver. This was the inspiration for Dr Evil’s hairless Sphynx cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, from the Austin Powers movies.
Other notable copy-cats of this famous duo include the villain Dr. Claw and his kitty M.A.D. Cat from Inspector Gadget, and mafioso Don Vito Corleone and his kitty in The Godfather (1972).
This little kitty must have made Vito an offer he couldn’t refuse Source
Heroes from popular culture also have their fair share of cat sidekicks. If Captain Marvel teaches us anything, it’s that every superhero should have their own cat — especially a spitfire like Carol Danvers, since cats can have a calming effect. Though Goose the tabby cat may ultimately have her own motives, for meow she’s Captain Marvel’s loyal companion.
Captain Marvel and Goose Source
Another loyal cat sidekick, and everyone’s favorite imaginary friend, is Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes. Best friends through thick and thin, Calvin and Hobbes remind us of the power of make-believe and long-lasting friendships.
Best friends and snuggle-buddies Source
Whether a cat is sacred to the goddess Bastet, a mystical familiar, a fluffy lap-friend, or a heroic companion, it’s undeniable that some of the best sidekicks are cats. Cats occupy a special place in our hearts, and when they’re fighting by our side, make us pretty much invincible. Unfortunately there are no cats allowed at Raleigh Supercon, but cat cosplays are always welcome!