Cats vs Dogs: Who Have The Best Movies?

by | March 23, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

In Wes Anderson movies, dogs usually get the short end of the whimsy stick. The rampage began in The Royal Tenenbaums, when the family beagle is crushed by a car driven by Owen Wilson on mescaline. Since then, dogs are routinely killed, poisoned, and abandoned. As if to repent, Anderson is releasing a new stop-motion adventure all about dogs…who are crushed, killed, poisoned, and abandoned. But, hey, it’s called Isle of Dogs, a pun when said aloud about how much Anderson loves man’s best friend. Sure, dude.

Seriously, though, Isle of Dogs is a terrific tribute to the purity and loyal spirit of dogs, one that also can’t help take a few potshots at cats . The cats versus dogs debate has been raging since time immemorial, but today we’re going to solve it like true 21st century people: by throwing up a bunch of numbers on your screen! We’ve taken the 20 highest-rated dog movies, and the 20 highest-rated cat movies, and averaged out a Tomatometer for each list. The animal has to be the main crux of the plot, and movies where the dogs and cats share top billing are not included — so no Incredible Journeys or Milos & Otiseses.

20 Best Dog Movies
Old Yeller: 100%
101 Dalmatians: 98%
Heart of a Dog: 96%
Lassie Come Home: 94%
Best in Show: 94%
Lassie (2006): 93%
Snoopy, Come Home:92%
White Dog: 92%
Lady and the Tramp: 90%
My Dog Tulip: 90%
Bolt: 89%
White God: 89%
Lassie (1994): 88%
Frankenweenie: 87%
Benji: 86%
Wendy and Lucy: 85%
A Boy and His Dog: 75%
My Dog Skip: 73%
Eight Below: 72%
White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf: 71%

20 Best Cat Movies
Kedi: 98%
Born Free: 94%
The Rabbi’s Cat: 94%
That Darn Cat!: 93%
Duma: 93%
The Lion King: 92%
The Cat Returns: 90%
Harry and Tonto: 88%
The Black Cat: 87%
Puss in Boots: 84%
A Cat in Paris: 82%
Two Brothers: 78%
Keanu: 78%
A Street Cat Named Bob: 76%
The Lion King 1 1/2: 76%
The Cat from Outer Space: 75%
Disneynature African Cats: 71%
Roar: 70%
The Aristocats: 67%
Cat’s Eye: 67%

The Tomatometer speaks (or barks, in this case): Dog movies get the edge over cats! But why stop there? Continue on as we break down the stats even further.


Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Animated dog movies: 101 Dalmatians, Snoopy, Come Home, Lady and the Tramp, My Dog Tulip, Bolt, Frankenweenie
Average Tomatometer: 91%

Animated cat movies: The Rabbi’s Cat, The Lion King, The Cat Returns, Puss in Boots, A Cat in Paris, The Lion King 1 1/2, The Aristocats
Average Tomatometer: 84%

With a little imagination, you can draw a line from the earliest cave drawings to Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back. Since the beginning, we’ve observed and studied animals around us, for re-creation on whatever canvas available. So it’s no surprise that cartoons, our updated cave art, are synonymous with talking animals, and that a significant portion of the top 20 cats and dog movies are animated. For our canine pals, the average Tomatometer for the seven animated movies is 91%. For our kitty compatriots, the T-meter for the six animated movies equals 84%, thanks to Walt Disney (The Lion King), Studio Ghibli (The Cat Returns), and Dreamworks (Puss in Boots). Why has Pixar not made the effort? Are they secretly running some anti-cat ring from their basement dungeon in Emeryville? Look into it, people.


Oscilloscope/courtesy Everett Collection

Dog documentaries: Heart of a Dog
Tomatometer: 96%

Cat documentaries: Kedi, African Cats
Tomatometer: 88%

Two documentaries pop up on the cat list: Kedi, an endearing look at strays in Instanbul, and African Cats, featuring cheetahs and lions in Kenya. From the streets to the tundra to your apartment, cats remain in our eyes independent, mysterious, and almost otherwordly. Probably why we make more documentaries about them than dogs. Dog movies revolve around their connection with humans, good fodder for tugging at the heart strings in narrative films. And the only dog documentary here, Heart of a Dog, is indeed about a dog’s bond with its master, artist Laurie Anderson. It’s 96% on the Tomatometer, while the two cat documentaries average 88%.


Movies where the dog dies:
Old Yeller, White Dog, My Dog Tulip, My Dog Skip, Eight Below
Average Tomatometer: 86%

Movies where the cat dies: The Lion King, Harry & Tonto, The Black Cat
Average Tomatometer: 88%

Some people refuse to watch movies knowing the dog is going to die. But how does canine death affect the Tomatometer? Movies where a dog is killed (on-screen or off) average 86%, two percentage points down from the top 20’s 88%. But when the cat dies, the average Tomatometer actually goes up, also to a healthy 88%. What happened to the stereotype of film critics being cat people? Or is this all some twisted projection of resentment upon their own pets? You be the judge.


Criterion Collection

Movies where the dog bites someone: White God, 101 Dalmatians, White Dog, A Boy and His Dog, White Fang 2
Average Tomatometer: 85%

Movies where the cat scratches someone: Two Brothers, Puss in Boots, Roar, Cat’s Eye
Average Tomatometer: 75%

Enough about killing your pets. What happens when feral instinct rears its furry head and cats and dogs attack people? With dogs, critics seem pretty okay with it: the average Tomatometer only drops to 85%, and frankly, some of the people deserve it, like the burglars in 101 Dalmatians. And we’re including Blood from A Boy and His Dog; he doesn’t bite anybody, but he does help himself to some human delicacies, if you catch our post-apocalyptic drift. Meanwhile, critics are no fans of cat scratch fever: the average rating drops to 75% in movies where cats go on the offense. Keep those claws in your paws, kittens.

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