The 30 Most Important Cats of 2020

In an abysmal year, these cats showed us hope and resilience, and (in one case) climbed into a pair of pants

Photo: Master Poe Poe via Instagram

The cats, at least, did nothing wrong in 2020. In fact, they distinguished themselves, and we would be remiss if we did not take a moment to acknowledge them. These are the most important cats of this most difficult year. Let us celebrate them and sing their praises.

30. Pant-Leg Cats

If like so many of us you have often felt unequal to the challenges of this year, remember that we all put our pants on one leg at a time and that for at least one of us, that’s gonna result in two very scratchy surprises.

29. Whole Mouthfuls Cat

Each moment of joy is as precious as the food that gives us life, so be like Whole Mouthfuls Cat and gulp down joy with as wide a mouth as possible (and then readjust if you feel like you’ve overdone it a bit).

28. Piano Hammer Cat

“Music expresses in an exceedingly universal language … and with the greatest distinctness and truth, the inner being, the in-itself, of the world …”

… wrote the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, doubtless as he was being gently massaged by piano hammers while his best friend played “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

27. Goalkeeper Cat

We are all Goalkeeper Cats this year, and 2020 has been Francesco Totti assaulting us with penalty kicks from 12 yards out. However many goals you allowed under this onslaught, you are to be commended. Bravissimo.

26. “Get Out of My House” Cat

In quarantine, our homes can feel like a sanctuary and a prison all at once. None of that changes the fact that you have disrupted this cat’s routine and you should apologize immediately.

25. Uncanny “Puss in Boots” Impression Cat

Oscar Wilde says that life imitates art more than the other way round:

“The self-conscious aim of life is to find expression, and … art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy.”

He was not, to my knowledge, referring specifically to Shrek 2 when he said this, but I’m certain that if he met Uncanny “Puss in Boots” Impression Cat, he would smile and nod sagely to himself.

Photo: Master Poe Poe / Dreamworks

24. This Person’s Cat’s Boyfriend

When you find yourself besieged by the slings and arrows that are your cat’s regenerate boyfriend, do not suffer them in silence, but take courage and take arms—and tell your cat that she can do better.

23. Gli, the Cat Who Lived in the Hagia Sophia

What better caretaker for a glorious, 1500-year-old masterpiece of Byzantine architecture than a sweet old cross-eyed girl with a furry face and a soft spot for tourists?

Photo: Hagia Sophia Cat via Instagram

22. The Sphinx of the Water Closet

When Oedipus bested the Sphinx at Thebes, his victory marked a passage from the ancient ways to the modern ones—from the old gods to the new. If you best the Sphinx of the Water Closet, you’ll still probably be in a situation where the cat is watching you pee.

21. Cat With Human Hands

In retrospect, we all should have given up on 2020 and gone home as soon as this happened.

20. Slipper Cat

It has often been said that if you can attach the slipper of kindness to the forepaw of justice, then you are living a good and noble life. Well, maybe not often said, but it ought to be.

19. Self-Portrait Cat

Mine eye hath played the painter and hath stelled
This kitty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.

– William Shakespeare, referring to this cat.

18. These Absolute Goofs

When the cardboard lizard of desire appears upon the wall of false hope, do not be like these credulous fools, but turn your head away and be grateful for what you have.

17. The Cat Who Thinks He’s a Dog

Heidegger calls the ontological state of existing in relation to other people “Mit-Dasein” (there-being-with), so it stands to reason that the state of existing in relation to dogs would be “Mit-Dachshund.” Of course, these guys are Shiba Inus, so I’m not entirely sure where that leaves us.

Photo: saki.ibuki.hazuki via Instagram

16. Redecorating Cat

Like George Leigh Mallory, who famously attempted Everest in 1924 “because it’s there,” Redecorating Cat is animated by an urgent desire to make her mark on the world in all its boundless variety. Unlike George Leigh Mallory, Redecorating Cat survived her encounter with the infinite.

15. Giant Monster Cat

As you sit on the couch that is life and watch the TV program that is experience, beware the giant monster cat that is … literally a giant monster cat. They’re very big.

14. The Cat Who Has It All

Remember as you gaze upon this broken creature that even if you sit upon a very mountain of kibble, you will have nothing if you do not have your freedom.

13. The Cat Who Locked Up the Dog

There once was a bothersome male / Who insisted on sniffing her tail / She tired of his act / and gave him a smack / then gracefully locked him in jail

– Limerick I just wrote about this cat.

12. The Kitten Who Kissed Back

My kisses are free / but they are three times as sweet / when they are returned.

– Haiku I just wrote about this kitten.

11. Carrot, the Fridge Cat

Know the truth B4 supposing; buy a ring B4 proposing; seed your garden B4 hosing; check for cat arm B4 closing.

– Wise old saying that didn’t make a ton of sense until Carrot came along.

Photo: Carrot The Cat

10. Storm-Watching Cats

The storm can be a fearsome thing—a deluge that engulfs us and tosses our helpless vessel upon the angry sea. But when we face it with a friend—arm in arm—it is something else entirely: It is an adventure.

9. Feline Dion

Keeping with the storm theme here—if the raging wind buffets you about a bit this coming year, remember Feline Dion, then turn your face to the gale and sing.

8. The Shoe Burglar

Everyone knows the old saw about the slipper of kindness and the forepaw of justice, but have you heard the one about the Uggs of avarice? That one’s about this cat.

7. The Obstacle Challenge Cats

Whether you handled 2020 with the indifferent grace of an Obstacle Challenge cat or the clownish galumphery of an Obstacle Challenge dog, be proud that you have persevered, and that you are on the other side of an Obstacle Challenge year.

6. Goth-O-Lantern Cats

You could travel from the dazzling white peaks of the Himalayas to the sparkling depths of the Eisriesenwelt Cavern and yet never see any natural thing so beautiful as two cats kissing in a goth-o-lantern.

5. The Cat Who Can’t Keep His Dang Tongue in His Mouth

There is certainly nothing wrong with the sticklers and the stuffed shirts who insist on keeping their lingual organ hidden away like a shy virgin inside their oral cavity, but some of us prefer to let our tongues fly in the wind like a glorious flag of victory. Specifically, this guy.

Photo: Neko Ikiru San via Instagram

4. Exhibitionist Cat

In a year of Zoom fatigue, we must find our heroes where we may.

3. The Cat Who Snatched the Priest’s Milk

Is it a mortal sin to snatch a priest’s milk while he’s saying his prayers? Religious scholars may disagree but I believe that, under the right circumstances, it can be a holy act. Blessed are those who meow, for they shall inherit the milk.

2. Kitzia, the Even Grumpier Cat

In a normal year, a cantankerousness of this magnitude would be sufficient to vault its practitioner to the top of the rankings, but this is not a normal year. This is a year that must end with hope, even if it is punctuated at times by a truly awe-inspiring irascibility. (Let’s not tell Kitzia, though.)

Photos: Grumpy Kitzia

1. The Cat Who Crawled Into the Priest’s Cassock

Despite the shocking theft of his milk, the priest continues his kind and humble prayers. But he is not the hero of this story. The hero of this story is an adventurous black cat named Leo who knows that even in the very hardest of years, when a doorway opens to you—wherever it may be—you should accept the invitation.

Formerly editorial director @BuzzFeed. Currently editor @Tenderly and writer at large. Email: JackAShepherd at gmail

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