I spent a while trying to think about a Hall of Fame takedown piece. How the very idea of one is kind of dumb. People shouldn’t be voted into it, we should just constantly recognize amazing feats. And, since nobody is going into the baseball hall of fame this year, I decided to take a different route.
So our team collected a number of fictional felines, and voted.
I sat here trying to figure out what on EARTH I should say to introduce this, but our very own Ellen Adair said it better than I ever could.
First of all, I’m very much behind the spirit of this exercise. I’ve never much gotten myself up in a lather about the Hall of Fame because to me, it’s transparently constructed in order to sow discord. It’s an arbitrary process created specifically in order that people can argue with other people. But they’re arguing about baseball, so most years, I welcome the debate. In a way, sports themselves are an arbitrary process created specifically so that people can argue with other people, and I’m obviously deeply for the existence of sport.
But where the Phillies bullpen can bring me exaltation or despair, I feel a politely interested detachment in Hall of Fame outcomes, the same way I do with award shows. I’ve just always thought, if the Hall of Fame were a castle, it’s a very bizarrely constructed castle, in which we get so concerned about who gets let through the portcullis, when they might just get through the screen door in the back, later on. Which doesn’t bother me. Let ‘em in.
However, as I’ve always thought, if I were an actual voter, the situation would bring me more angst. And I hope I’ve proved that when given the important responsibility of voting in the Jellicle Cats Hall of Fame, I took it seriously.
So, thank you Ellen for this way better introduction than I could have given. Let’s get to it.
Of the 30 on the list, writer’s were allowed to pick seven names. Why seven? Because I said so. It’s arbitrary. So sue me. Any cat who appeared on at least 70% of ballots would be inducted. Any cat who appeared on fewer than 5% of the ballots would no longer be eligible. A cat is said to have nine lives, so our limit to cats staying on the list for future voting is nine. Every cat not inducted this time around will be down to eight lives. We also allowed a write-in slot to mention prominent kitties we may have missed.
The Candidates and Results
We spend a bunch of time brainstorming. Sure, we still missed a whole bunch, but we’re working with what we’ve got here. Don’t at us. Or do. You do you.
|Candidate||Where they’re from||How they did|
|Mufasa||The Lion King||50%|
|Simba||The Lion King||31%|
|Scar||The Lion King||12%|
|Sarabi||The Lion King||6%|
|Nala||The Lion King||6%|
|Garfield||Garfield and Friends||93% – First ballot HOF|
|Hobbes||Calvin and Hobbes||37%|
|Tom||Tom and Jerry||31%|
|Felix||Felix The Cat cartoons||6%|
|Cowardly Lion||The Wizard of Oz||18%|
|Cat in the Hat||Dr. Seuss||43%|
|Cheshire Cat||Alice in Wonderland||31%|
|Tigger||100 Acre Wood||81% – First ballot HOF|
|Bagheera||The Jungle Book||31%|
|Tony the Tiger||Frosted Flakes Mascot||25%|
|MGM Lion||Self explanatory||18%|
|Chester Cheetah||Cheetos Mascot||6%|
|Si and Am||Lady and the Tramp||0% – no longer eligible|
|Stimpy||Ren and Stimpy||12%|
|Princess Carolyn||BoJack Horseman||12%|
|Milo||The Adventures of Milo and Otis||6%|
|Puss in Boots||Shrek||18%|
|Snagglepuss||The Yogi Bear Show||0% – no longer eligible|
|Pink Panther||The Pink Panther Cartoon||25%|
|All 5 Aristocats||The Aristocats||6% (Write-in)|
|Aslan||The Chronicles of Narnia||6% (Write-in)|
|Sampson||The Church Mice||6% (Write-in)|
Based on the votes of 15 members of our staff, and 1 who decided to go anonymous as “Rum Tum Tugger”, Garfield proved his hunger and Tigger did a wonderful thing. They are the only two inductees into our first official Jellicle Ballot.
You must have questions. I did. We all did. So I have asked our voters to defend their picks.
Mufasa looked out for the good of all of his creatures – a true leader. Garfield loves pasta as much as I do. Hobbes is the COAT. The wonderful thing about Tigger is…everything. Bagheera watched out for someone who wasn’t even his own species. Tony the Tiger is iconic, and you’ll never forget his catchphrase. Pink Panther is a relic and shan’t be forgotten.
Kevin Michael Morin
Giver of the correct votes
A political leader, a single parent of three, an outspoken supurrvisor. That’s Sarabi, Duchess, and Sassy. If they didn’t make your list, maybe it’s preference, or maybe it’s the patriarchy. #YesAllCats
The Cat in the Hat should have been a unanimous first ballot HOFer, and the fact that he’s not will haunt me for the rest of my life. The sneakiest snub here may also be Hobbes, but I’m confident he’s in, along with CITH, on the second ballot vote.
Garfield – Not voting for Garfield would be like not voting for Mariano Rivera. There is quite literally nothing I can say to defend this vote because it is not in need of a defense.
Tigger – The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Thier tops are made out of rubbers
Their bottoms are made out fo springs
They’re bouncy, trouncy, founcy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
Hobbes – For myself, and many of my generation I have to imagine, Calvin & Hobbes was an extremely important part of our childhood. Calvin was such much more than the back of idiot’s pickup trucks would have people remember, but the heart was his stuffed tiger come to life, Hobbes. The perfect companion for the explorative wonder and nature of adolescence deserves a spot in the Hall and it is unfathomable to me that he was not a first ballot entry.
Tom – The argument for Tom is the same as the argument for Felix. They’re. ICONIC.
Felix – See above
Mufasa – It feels wrong to not include at least one of the characters from The Lion King, and of those choices the easiest answer is Mufasa. I actually thing it should be Sarabi, but to me it felt like Mufasa had a higher chance of getting in. This is a terrible argument and I feel ashamed I didn’t stick with my instincts and go for the better choice.
Bagheera – This is a sentimental choice for me. The Jungle Book is one of my favorite Disney movies, in no small part to being the movie I would always watch when we would visit my Dad’s parents when I was young. And, Bagheera raised Mowgli extremely well. Definite HOF material.
Andrew Mark Wilhelm
Bitter About Hobbes
Mufasa and Scar are fantastic cats, literally changed the game. Lion ROYALTY. Garfield is on here because he’s dope, but also name another cat whose absense makes their medium better? You can’t. Tigger is iconic as is the MGM Lion. You’d know that roar ANYWHERE. The Cheshire Cat was the OG weird cat, so you gotta tip your cap, and the Pink Panther is just dope all around. I will not be taking questions at this time.
Also, and this might be coming off the top rope a bit, but how is Grizabella not on the first ballot? Is that an oversight by the Cat Hall of Fame? I mean, we got Topcat on there, but no Griz? Have you heard MEMORY BEFORE? WHAT IS THIS? Anyway, that just seems rude. I cannot wait to vote for her in 2022.
Justin Heath Colombo
Votes for Evil
Look when you think of cats, any cat, the feline species in general, you get about 10 seconds deep in thought before Garfield pops into your brain.
Tom one half of the greatest. Period. Cat and Mouse team. Period. EVER. Period.
MGM Lion has been around since our grandparents were going to movies. The Cheshire Cat is as cool as they come. Tigger’s courage kept the heffalumps away. Some might call him the greatest hero the Hundred Acre Wood has ever seen. Azrael was always spotting those Smurfs, and he woulda caught them too if he didn’t have that oaf Gargamel weighing him down. And who doesn’t love to strut to the tune of the Pink Panther? I mean come on “Doo. A-Doo. A-Doo A-Doo, A-Doo. A-Doo. A-Doooooooo – Ba-Da-Ba-Dummmmm.
Amateur Scat Artist
So many cats to choose from so how were mine chosen? Mainly based on impactful moments of my childhood but here are some reasons:
Stimpy was my first look into irreverent humor with Ren & Stimpy. Garfield books were legit my favorite and only source of reading material for a good portion of my life (the public school system failed me). Cat in the Hat & Tigger were both classics that couldn’t be left off a cat HOF list. The Lion King was the first movie I saw in theaters with my grandparents so I’ll always remember Simba. Due to the amount of TV we watched, I think Tony the Tiger’s voice could be heard at least once a day in our house. Finally, Grumpy Cat lived the American dream. He was grumpy, did nothing of value, and made millions of dollars. A true American hero!
Leaning into the American Dream
Garfield – My favorite and the unquestionable fictional GCOAT
Hobbes – I just always liked his style
Tom – He didn’t let his differences with Jerry keep them from working together
Sylvester – He knew who he was, and he didn’t give up
Cat in the Hat – Just felt like the gold standard of fictional cats. You think cats, you think him.
Tigger – The world just needs more pure joy
Top Cat – Just me being selfish. I had this nickname and I knew if I didn’t vote for him he’d be off the list and subject to the Vet Committee vote
Selfish, Lover of Lasagna
So I will admit that I’m fairly new to the love of Cats. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with dogs and a 4 cassette tape set of the Cats the musical that my vision was initially skewed but as a new cat mom my heart has recently made room for these quirky lovable felines.
When it comes to the decision of who to put on the first HoF ballot some choices were easier than others. I have an inherent bias towards big cats given that I grew up with 2 of my local professional sports teams being named the Lions and Tigers so it makes sense that 4 out of my 7 choices were some version of a big cat, which are not ironically my favorite animal group.
I’ll start with the Lions, (seeing as they’ve been fairly newsworthy of late). I love my dad as much or more than anyone so Mufasa was a given. I was 10 when The Lion King came out and suffice it to say that I still cry every time he dies even 25 years later. When I was 5 my mom made me an elaborate Wizard of Oz themed birthday party complete with a papier macho hot air balloon and wicked witch legs sticking out from under my playhouse in the backyard so if you’re wondering where my love of the Cowardly Lion came from look no further than that. Plus as a dance/theater kid who has spent a lot of her life with rollers in her hair those curls are ICONIC.
As far as the other big cats go, Chester Cheetah is just the coolest with his sunglasses and also being a go-to drunken snack in college. Oh and my childhood soccer team was named the Cheetahs. And as a late 80s/early 90’s kid I feel like we have to pour one for our somewhat weird teenage fascination with Winnie The Pooh. I mean Tigger might be a little too much sometimes with his exuberance but you’ve got to love someone who just wants to bring joy and fun to those that they love.
When it comes to the last 3 it’s all about the sass. Garfield is jaded and doesn’t apologize for it. Puss In Boots is clever but cute. He can disarm you in an instant with both with his eyes and his ability to cut you to the quick with a sword. And last but not least there’s Sassy who is the only female in the group. Her ability for growth and change as she embarks on an epic journey is something we should all strive for. She realizes that she is stronger than most people give her credit for but she also takes no prisoners when it comes to getting what she wants and knows she’s deserving of.
Newfound Lover of Cats
Mufasa – Honestly, Mufasa just seemed like a really good dad. He was strong, confident and wise and continued to guide Simba even after his death. Hobbes – Hobbes is always there to make Calvin think. He encourages the exploration of ideas without pushing anything on Calvin. Plus, he’s cute. Cat in the Hat – I honestly kind of regret this vote. I think I impulse chose the Cat in the Hat because I loved the book as a child, but truth be told, he’s kind of an asshole. Bagheera – Bagheera has a huge heart and is super protective, almost to a fault. He always has the best intentions for Mowgli and is a solid father figure for him. Grumpy – First of all, RIP. Second of all, a Grumpy Cat meme always brought a smile to my face. What a delightful, weird-looking little cat. Sassy – Sassy doesn’t take crap from anybody, and you have to respect that. She’s sarcastic and um…sassy, but still loving and caring. Also, she’s voiced by the one and only Sally Field and who doesn’t like Sally Field?
Stans Sally and Sassy
So I went in with the mentality of using all 7 of my votes. I ended up grouping my picks based on initial impression of notoriety as I scrolled the list – The No-Brainers, The Childhood Shapers, and the Shit…I have another vote. Here’s how it breaks down:
The No-Brainers – Garfield, Cat in the Hat, Tigger
These are the ones that I saw and immediately thought…
Each of these cats is broadly recognizable and has entered our lives through multiple avenues – tv shows, movies, comics, books, theme parks, etc. You’d be hard-pressed to show someone a picture of any of these cats and not have them know who they are.
The Childhood Shapers – Mufasa, Scar, Tom
These are the cats who I grew up with and helped to shape me as a person. Growing up in the 90s, every kid knew these cats. Here’s my rationale for erach:
James Earl Jones’ turn as Mufasa remains one of the most iconic pieces of voice acting of all time.
Tom and Jerry has been on…forever. And while we are often rooting for Jerry, Tom’s persistence cannot be denied. He gets knocked down 8 million times but just keeps coming – that’s the heart of a champion and he deserves to be enshrined.
I did have some back and forth over whether or not to include Simba here but ended up opting for Scar instead, based mostly on his gif-ability in the modern day. The character just hits a little different as an adult…
The “Shit – I have another vote”
Enter – the MGM lion. As I scrolled the list, I kept coming back to notoriety. How many people, if shown the picture out of context, would recognize the cat? The MGM Lion, though used less frequently today, was synonymous with Hollywood for decades. While we don’t know this cat’s name, we all know his roar. This unnamed lion is an absolute legend.
Demander of Recounts
It’s just…some aren’t cats. They’re large cats. But not cats. You feel?
Michael T. Lacey
Large Cat Hater
I approached my Cat Hall of Fame ballot by considering who the most iconic fictional cats in the world are. I didn’t necessarily judge them by their character, but I believe that those whose brands have thrived have done so with good reason.
I would have liked to have included several of the cast of The Lion King, but ultimately chose the patriarch Mufasa for the inaugural class. I believed that Simba is a shoo-in for future classes, and hopefully Nala as well. Given that none were elected this year, I assume they split votes.
Though I often consider myself more of an Odie fan, it was impossible to not give Garfield a vote for his longevity in the funnies. So too did Pink Panther deserve the nod for his contributions to the genres of animated cartoons, live-action spy movies, and home insulation.
Tony the Tiger has moved beyond just Frosted Flakes to become one of the faces of Kellogg’s multi-million dollar cereal industry, and has a universally known catch-phrase. The Cat in the Hat is practically a stand-in for Dr. Seuss in popular culture, and, like Tony, has transcended his own book and become the face of the Seuss brand.
In addition to Mufasa, I selected Disney characters Tigger and the Cheshire Cat. While not a major character in Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat guides Alice through her journey. This is also somewhat of a “Lifetime Service Award” for Sterling Holloway, who among other things, voiced the Cheshire Cat and Winnie the Pooh, a neat connection to fellow nominee Tigger.
Tigger was a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Fame cat. As the oft-antagonist but also good friend to Pooh and company, Tigger is a mispronouncing, singing, bouncing tour de force. I don’t think anyone can imagine the Hundred Acre Wood without ‘T-I-double-Guh-Er.’
I’ll be honest – there wasn’t much rhyme or reason put into my selections for my ballot. I’m more of a dog guy, so I don’t have TOO much invested in this list of worthy felines. Still – I felt somewhat obligated as one of (if not THE) resident old men of the site to represent some of the OG bad ass kitties. Garfield, Tigger, Bagheera, and The Cheshire Cat were among my fictional friends in my youth. Whether it was Garfield’s love of laziness and lasagna, Tigger’s outgoing personality and confidence, Bagheera’s selflessness and mentorship, or the Cheshire Cat’s wily, philosophical disposition – they represented some of the best buds a kid could have growing up. No worthy list is complete without some strong females represented. Nala and Princess Caroline certainly fit the bill. As for Azrael – I think he got a bit of a pity vote from me for having to put up with Gargamel every day.
If you offer me pheasant, I’d rather have grouse
Rum Tum Tugger
So, I’m perfectly willing to defend every single one of my choices. I quickly grasped the problem of only having seven votes, despite the very long list of deserving felines. This is a level of difficulty that the members of the BBWAA never have to encounter.
Consequently, one of my guiding principles was to cross off the list for my particular votes the cats I deemed most “safe,” who would likely be inducted with or without my vote. I identified Garfield, the Cat in the Hat and Tigger as the three surest bets. This would give me, in essence, ten votes.
Following that, I voted for a number of cats I considered most worthy. I consider it a crime that Hobbes was not inducted on the first ballot, as he leads all cats in fWAR, and has a solid case to be made via Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system. Both an exceptional peak and sustained excellence, had Hobbes. The Cheshire Cat and Bagheera were obvious choices for me personally, though since I grew up with no television this was through childhood love of those books, as I have not seen the movies. I have seen “The Wizard of Oz,” but affection for the books also drove my Cowardly Lion choice. I felt I had to also stand up for the Literary Cats constituency, which may be the OBP of the cat world.
Simba could be viewed as an obvious exception, but I voted for him on the grounds that I was afraid Mufasa and even Scar might garner more support. Simba is the Hamlet of cats, folks. You can’t have Hamlet Sr. going into the HOF before freaking Hamlet. And Claudius? Get out of here.
Princess Carolyn is an exception to the Literary Cats consituency, but I was afraid she might fall off of the ballot without my vote, and I was not far off. My write-in votes for Aslan, who really should have been on the list, and Sampson from Graham Oakley’s “The Church Mice” books, were utterly justified in place of Garfield and Tigger, who will get to give their speeches at Pooperscooperstown regardless. I understand that Sampson doesn’t fit the idea of “fame,” but I consider him the best fictional cat to ever exist, and hope to increase awareness.
I also personally consider Garfield and the Cat in the Hat to be jerks who I never found particularly funny, but my reasoning had nothing to do with invoking the morals clause. Tigger also was obviously doping, but this was before testing, so I’m fine with him being in, too. This was strategy and not judgment.
I move that next year, we be given ten votes, and that everyone who doesn’t vote for Hobbes gets declawed.
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