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"Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, pigs treat us as equals"—Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Cat Lover's Companion.
Cats are almost always portrayed as particularly intelligent, cunning, and independent, and in works with any degree of anthropomorphization a cat is likely to be The Chessmaster, a Deadpan Snarker, (see also Cats Are Snarkers) or one of the other Trickster archetypes. Sometimes they are all but stated to be a Superior Species.
This can, but need not, overlap with Cats Are Mean. Superior cats can have a wide range of attitudes toward lesser creatures: showing contempt for them, ignoring them, treating them with amused tolerance, or taking pains to guide and protect them.
This trope is approached from another direction through the traditional association between cats and magic. Whether Magic Is Evil or benign, it is yet another way for cats to show intelligence and wield power. Is it any wonder that that witches have long been associated with them?
Anime & Manga
- The Cat Returns.
- Yoruichi from Bleach falls into this trope. And then you see her true form and it all makes sense.
- In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Sassy is quite arrogant and condescending to Chance, often talking about how cats are superior to dogs.
- By contrast, Sassy does show respect toward the wise and grandfatherly Shadow. Her arguments with Chance are more of a Running Gag between the two of them.
- The black cat from Coraline. Snarky, deadpan, aloof, insulting, arrogant - but willing to help in Coraline's time of need and vital to her confrontation with the Other Mother.
- In the Disney version of Jungle Book, this is applied to both Shere Kahn and Bagheera. The former overlaps with Cats Are Mean by being portrayed as Wicked Cultured, whereas the latter subverts Cats Are Mean by making Bagheera still a hero, but of the Deadpan Snarker/Good Is Not Nice variety.
- The Aristocats has the song "Everybody Wants to Be A Cat", where the cats sing an ode to their species' superiority.
- Novelist Haruki Murakami loves this trope; cats in his novels almost always hold symbolic or supernatural significance. In Kafka On The Shore, one of the cats comments "Cats know everything, unlike dogs."
- Robert Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. Eureka the cat has this attitude while eating dinner with Deety, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger.
Deety: Eureka, do you have Dorothy's permission?
Eureka: What a silly way to talk. Dorothy must get my permission. Feed me the lobster first, then the shrimp. You may have the last piece of shrimp for yourself. [snip] Ignore these jungle beasts; they are not cats. Be it known that Felis domestica has been civilized more generations than all you lesser breeds combined. As my serene ancestress, Bubastis, Goddess of the Nile, was wont to say: "Where Cat is, is civilization." Hurry up with that lobster. [snip] Scratch behind my left ear - gently. I shall sing, then I shall sleep. Maintain a respectful silence.
- The Glass Cat in the Land of Oz books also had this attitude.
- The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland has this.
- Petaybee: Coaxtl, the giant cat, loves this trope.
- So does Edgewood Dirk of Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover novels. Of course in his case he is actually literally a fairy, and in that world fairies might as well as be Starfish Aliens as well as aware of far more magic, knowledge, and philosophy than mere humans could, so some of this may be justified. Doesn't stop his Smug Snake, Deadpan Snarker, and Holier Than Thou attitude from becoming very annoying sometimes, though.
- Though Dirk seems to identify himself as a cat first and Faerie second, to the point where anytime he tries to explian or justify his attitude, it's always by reminding the person annoyed at him that he is a cat, never that he is a Faerie creature.
- In the Immortals Quartet, normal cats don't seem to have that much of this - however, the Goddess of Cats, Queenclaw, is incredibly smug.
- There is also Faithful/Pounce who is a Talking Animal and has revealed to have interesting abilities in both The Song of the Lioness Quartet and the more resent Beka Cooper books.
- In The Dresden Files Harry has a massive 20+ pound cat named Mister. Harry routinely comments on how 'above-it-all' Mister holds himself. Upon having a puppy brought into the apartment, Mister responded by creating a tradition of swatting it half way across the room with a paw. Since then the puppy has become a very large dog, but Mister sees no reason that should stop his treatment of the dog, and the dog accepts it.
- The Sight allows Harry to see the true form of whatever he looks at. His dog glows with hidden power, his cop friend looks like an angel, monsters look even more hideous...and his cat looks exactly the same as it does when this power is turned off.
- H.P. Lovecraft's essay Cats and Dogs is all about this.
- Amazing Maurice. He calls himself amazing for a reason.
- Mercedes Lackey loves this trope. Cats are usually intelligent, often wise, skillful at getting around in the world, and occasionally magical.
- In Alan Dean Foster's Catalyst, some cats are powerful energy-based aliens that pose as cats and watch over other sentient beings. Of the three we meet, one attaches herself to the human protagonist, the second is actually evil and has a Villainous Breakdown near the end, and the last is run ragged by the absent-minded plant-like aliens who started everything a long time ago. It is the last that makes the main character some what suspicious - how do aliens have house cats?
- Werecats in the Inheritance Series. Especially Solembum.
- Saki's "The Achievement of the Cat".
- Garfield, perhaps. He's definitely smarter than his owner. The cartoon takes it a step further, with cats actually being aliens that "rule" humans in that they get free food and don't have to do anything all day.
- A story in Mandrake the Magician has Narda, Mandrake's girlfriend, dream - or does she? - that cats are descendants of aliens that got stuck on Earth and used the primitive humans to survive, having lost their technology. (The same applies to dogs - the dog aliens and cat aliens were at war, and the hostility between cats and dogs are a remnant of this.)
- The finale song of (what else?) Cats is all about the proper way for humans to suck up to cats, as the glorious creatures obviously deserve. Might be slightly tongue-in-cheek; it's hard to tell because of the style of the music.
- Seems to be played at first in the ending of Ghost Trick with the cat Sissel being a lot smarter than Missile (a dog), to the point that everybody around him was convinced that he was a human spirit for a whole night. Subverted when Missile is revealed to be The Chessmaster in the end, who outsmarted Sissel on many levels.
- Inverted in Nintendogs + Cats for the 3DS. In addition to being able to be played with, dogs can go for walks and enter competitions - earning you items and money, with which you can buy food, toys, furniture, and more pets. What can cats do to earn their keep? Not much. They can't even go for walks, even if you have an extra leash. They mostly hang around the house all day and go to stores with you. However, if you leave them alone for long enough (30-45 minutes), they'll go outside and bring back gifts. Even so, dogs are more efficient at providing an income.
- In Dwarf Fortress, cats are the only animals which you can't control the adoption of. Cats choose their owners, not vice versa; they can even adopt dwarves while the game is paused. You can't go without cats because they're the only creatures that can protect your food stocks from vermin. Thus, the "catsplosion," where cat breeding gets out of control because you can't get rid of pets like you can't strays.
- A number of cat Pokémon are like this, including Mewtwo for a bit.
- Emperor Krosp I, ruler of all cats, from Girl Genius. Krosp is a large, bipedal talking cat with a Nice Coat, the result of an experiment Gone Horribly Right. At one point, the protagonist sarcastically swears fealty to Krosp. Krosp solemnly accepts, and has ever since taken his responsibility to be a good lord to his vassal seriously.
- Karate Bears have a pet Karate Kat who is badass. here he is taking on 4 large dogs This one is also really badass: Kitty Kat smoking
- Most outdoor cats in "Prince of Cats" talk down to Lee, whom they telepathically communicate with as part of an obligation to their princess who is smitten with him.
- Animaniacs has Rita and Runt, a cats-rule-dogs-drool Odd Friendship.
- However, Rita is more of a sympathetic nature, as despite her arrogance and selfishness, most of her misfortunes have been examples of unfair and unequal treatment.
- Still others are brought on by her own ego, so there's a slight subversion there, and Runt is frequently saving her bacon.
- In the Futurama episode,"That Darn Katz!", cats are revealed to be a Sufficiently Advanced Alien species who left their dying homeworld, got the Ancient Egyptians to worship them and help them construct the pyramids- all while being Manipulative Bastards towards humankind.
- In the children's series Doctor Snuggles a recurring character is The Cosmos Cat, a perhaps Sufficiently Advanced Alien that is a Rubber Forehead Alien - its just that it is a cat that has the rubber forehead (antennas and such), not a human. (And at least in the Swedish dub, he speaks as an Erudite Stoner.)
- In Thundercats 2011 This is deconstructed and Played for Drama, since the Catfolk of The Empire of Thundera are a Proud Warrior Race who are genuinely excellent fighters, have an order of Kung Fu Wizard/Magic Knights and possess powerful Ancient Artifacts. As a result, they do much Cultural Posturing around believing their own press, that they were and are the great civilizers of their planet, who "brought law and order to a world of warring animals." This is a deeply-rooted societal justification for jingoistic Fantastic Racism against other Animals. They place minorities like Dogs in a Fantastic Ghetto to be victimized by "Alley Cats." while In their war with enemy the Lizards, the Cats enslave the hungry Lizards they catch raiding crops (due to the Cats' monopolization of arable land) even lynching them, if they feel like it. Its only a matter of time until the Cats' sense of security undoes them.
- There's a joke about the difference between cats and dogs:
Dogs think: Humans care about us, they feed us, treat us when we are ill, and stroke us when we are sad... They are gods for sure!
Cats think: Humans care about us, they feed us, treat us when we are ill, and stroke us when we are sad... We are gods for sure!
- Said another way: Dogs treat humans like other dogs. Cats treat humans like other dogs also.
- Another classic joke on the matter: "Dogs have owners; cats have staff."
- Kevin Smith summed it up this way:
Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are like man's complacent roommate.
- The ancient Egyptians would try and play this straight.
Terry Pratchett: In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods. They have never forgotten this.
- Interestingly, feral cats are still very common in Modern Egypt, roaming the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and other Egyptian cities like it's nobody's business. Even more interestingly, while Egyptians don't worship cats anymore (they're mostly Muslim and Christian these days, folks), they tend to treat cats with comparative respect, letting them just live (hey, they eat the garbage that the government's too cheap to provide collection for!). Dogs, for various reasons, do not get the same treatment.
- In most Muslim countries cats are considered superior because they were the favourite animal of Muhammad, who owned several. Dogs get a negative rap because many Muslim clerics believe they're suitable only for hunting, not as pets (they're often considered unclean).
- Many striped or tabby cats have three black streaks on their head, and there's a (though fairly obscure) Muslim legend that when Muhammad petted his favorite cat, three of his fingerprints stayed on her head and those of her descendants to mark their favored status. It's highly unlikely that all the cats with that marking are descended from one cat, but it's a good story.
- Truth in Television in that most cats certainly act like they are superior.