There's a good reason you see a lot more dogs in movies than you do cats, and friends of the feline species already know where I'm going with this: they don't listen. Generally speaking, cats do whatever the hell they want, which makes things difficult for a director working from a screenplay that demands "three cats who jump onto the piano, hit a few keys, and then jump down." Ha. Good luck. Our beloved kitties do have a storied, if simplistic, role in horror cinema -- they frequently jump out of cabinets and scare young women -- but beyond that their impact on modern cinema is relatively small.
But since I love movies and cats in equal measure, I thought it might be amusing* to run through a half-dozen of moviedom's coolest cats. (*I'm sorry. I meant "a-mews-ing." Cat fanciers do love their puns.)
Jones -- Alien (1979)
Let's just get the king of horror flick felines out of the way right now. He's cool, he's fat, he's orange, and he just chills the hell out while his human friends get devoured by a drooling beast from outer space. A dog would leap in and try to help, which is nice, but Jones the cat lives to see the end credits ... and that's really all that matters. (Personal note: I "own" one cat, and while he looks nothing like the awesome orange tabby seen in Alien -- I still named him Jones. He loves it.)
Churchill -- Pet Sematary (1989)
Well, poor Church certainly was a cool family cat ... until he got squashed by a truck, buried in an evil plot of land, and resurrected as one nasty zombie cat. Poor little guy. And even after the cat acts as a crystal-clear harbinger of WHAT NOT TO DO ... ugh, some idiot buries a dead kid in the same plot of nasty land. Come to think of it, and recalling Church's final scene, I'm thinking that the more sensitive cat fanciers might want to avoid this rather effective King adaptation altogether. Sill, though ... zombie cat!
Jake (aka Zunar J5 Zoric 949) -- The Cat from Outer Space (1978)
I had to get something silly in here. Clearly the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, this late '70s live-action Disney farce has an interstellar feline who wears a magical collar and must collect a bunch of gold in order to fix his ship and get a ride home. Yeah, it's actually really stupid. They never do explain why an alien would look like an Earth cat. Whatever, it was for kids in the late '70s, and it's not like we had a lot of options. Also I was just kidding about the E.T. thing.
General -- Cat's Eye (1985)
A plucky little puss pokes his nose into a variety of unpleasant situations, and he acts as sort of the framing story for a trilogy of simplistically satisfying Stephen King stories. General is mostly just an observer, but the kitty gets to be a victim in one story ("Quitters, Inc.") and the hero in a climactic battle between little Drew Barrymore and an even littler troll monster. Heck, toss the little-seen Sleepwalkers into the mix and there's your Stephen King Loves Cats triple feature.
Thomas O'Malley, Duchess and the kittens -- The Aristocats (1970)
Disney has presented plenty of memorable kitties as supporting characters, but here they take front and center for a colorful movie of their own. Little more than a comedic heist adventure in the vein of 101 Dalmatians (1961), this one might not be remembered as one of the studio's very finest efforts, but it's certainly an animated classic that the cat lovers can adore. As usual, the Disney animators take great care to present the animals with a welcome degree of realism -- combined with the necessary touches of hyper-stylized cartoonishness. Plus the songs are cute.
Tonto -- Harry and Tonto (1974)
There are plenty of classic tearjerkers about dogs but only one about a friendship between a man and his cat. Art Carney won an Oscar for his stellar performance as a lonely old man on a road trip with his beloved cat, and the screenplay was also nominated. A screenplay about a man who loves a cat! I haven't seen this flick in over 20 years, but I do remember Tonto being a pretty excellent traveling companion,
(Special note: I love dogs, honestly. Cats are cooler.)