10. Ninja Stalking Cat
These three frames really capture the undertone of horror that runs throughout the Stalking Cat video. The editing is the real star of the 2008 classic — the scenes fade to black at the pace of an eye blink, as the creepily charismatic star inches closer to the camera. Here, the Ninja Cat is staring directly into the face of the camera but he’s half obscured by the looming and ever-present black wall. It’s really a perfect summation of the entire film: one half adorable kitty face, one half the infinite, unknowable blackness that will one day descend upon us all.
9. Violet, The Most Relaxed Cat In The World
Natural beauty Violet relaxes and eyes her love in this intimate three-frame capture from the ambitious 2011 film “Meet Violet.” Her chemistry with her co-star is palatable. Because her owner’s face is obscured, the audience is allowed to insert themselves into these frames, imagine their own lips grazing the furry and adorable forehead of a reclining Violet.
8. Cat Interrupts Philosophy Lesson
“Oops” is a daring avant garde film that has been described as everything from “mumblecore” to “religious.” Here, the cat makes his first appearance — it’s over halfway through the 36 second classic, but he is the undeniable center of this film’s ideas. Every meaningful line uttered by the handsome protagonist rotates on the axis of the cat’s eventual disruption, and when you view this film for a second, third, or twentieth time, you will find that your anticipation of the cat’s appearance re-colors every moment that comes before.
The Japanese master “shironekoshiro” has been relentlessly prolific, directing over 700 films, almost all of them starring his muse Shironeko. Shironeko’s radiant and enlightened presence fills the screen in each one of these humble and quiet films. In these frames, Shironeko’s head is piled with cat food canisters, eventually numbering five. Whether these five cans represent the five senses, the five wounds of Jesus Christ, or the Discordian “Law of Fives” is something that critics have been debating ever since this particular video emerged in early 2011. But what is clear is that Shironeko is bearing the weight of these five objects with grace and fortitude, and that he would take the weight of the world on his shoulders as long as he was allowed to continue to relax.
6. Mom Hugs Kitten
Some have called it “the most genuine expression of love ever captured on screen.” Although “Cat Mom Hugs Baby Kitten” was made just last year, it has already had an impact on cat video documentarians who all aspire to capturing a spontaneous moment as universally heart-warming as this one. To them, I say: good luck. These frames represent a moment just after the famous hug scene, in which the kitten yawns, safely embraced by his mother’s warm kitty legs and paws. It is a beautiful and overlooked moment following the epic hug — it is capturing the small details (as well as the big ones) that makes director dragomirnet86 a true artist.
5. Kitten Attempts To Defeat Cat’s Plastic Fortress
This 2011 film explores what it is to be outside, looking in. Its premise is so simple: one cat is inside a plastic box, and another cat is not. But it’s what happens after you set these two characters on their opposing paths that is interesting. The director seems to let these two catctors improvise, working both off of each other and undoubtedly drawing from personal experience. The desperation that the kitten feels in trying to get into the box is just incredibly visceral and feels so real.
4. Keyboard Cat
Although some might dismiss Keyboard Cat as an absurdist comedy, I say “good for him.” The imagery from this film is indelible in our cultural dialogue for a good reason, even if the film itself lacks the emotional depth of some of our selections. This is just good old fashioned entertainment, but isn’t that part of what movies are all about as well? Here, the Keyboard Cat pounds his titular keyboard, and the world rejoices.
Cat videos’ biggest star is Maru and that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon. While other cats have had fine performances, many of them immortalized here, there is just not a single catctor in the world who can do what Maru does on a consistent basis. He is constantly surprising us with his bold choices, and he and his partner and director marumogo seem to be an unstoppable team whose films will go down forever as the greatest in cat video history. Here, Maru crawls into a box. I could watch this scene forever, and I just might.
2. Maru: Part Two
You didn’t think I was only going to put one Maru film on this list? In these three gorgeous frames (look at that art direction!), Maru is seen disappearing into a box. The box is our hearts.
1. Surprised Kitty
With over 64 million views, this video is almost universally accepted as the reigning king of cat movies. It is 17 seconds long. The themes are gloriously simple. Its enigmatic star, Surprised Kitty, was never heard from again. And, perhaps better than any other film on this list, its incredibly beauty can be summed up in only three frames. The Surprised Kitty is surprised, and the world will keep watching.