Dogs & cats make their way into the average Internet user’s mind every 0.4 seconds.
Okay, we made that statistic up, but it DOES seem realistic, doesn’t it? It’s hard to go for more than 5 minutes on the Web without seeing an irresistible cat video or a shot of a mischievous dog tearing up a couch.
As a tribute, we gathered 11 of our favorite songs about cats and dogs from over the years – yes, we’re including both, so even the most discerning cat fanatics can see if they’re moved by any of these pooch-related tunes. These are mostly songs that are actually about dogs & cats, not just songs using the word “dog” or “cat”, mind you.
1. Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog
Don’t let anybody tell you cats don’t like dogs, as this Cat (Stevens) sure did…even as much as he loves the subject of the song. Cute song for his first single, released way back in 1966. Aww.
2. David Bowie – Cat People (Putting out Fire)
This irreverent, glammy 1982 single from David Bowie was composed by Italian producer Giorgio Moroder for the film Cat People, an erotic horror movie about “werecats”. Bowie provided the lyrics & voice, while Moroder composed the song’s odd structure.
It was also used brilliantly by Quentin Tarantino in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.
3. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
The perpetually gravel-voiced Tom Waits even howls like a dog in the beginning of this live performance. Oh, and the song is about dogs wandering around in the rain, as a way of conveying themes of abandonment and despair. Happy stuff!
4. Iggy Pop – King of the Dogs
From his 2009 album Préliminaires, this jazzy little song features Iggy Pop channeling Tom Waits and explaining how dogs have everything so much better than we humans do. It even has a strange music video, as well.
5. The Cure – The Love Cats
A rare upbeat song from Robert Smith & the Cure, this song features some cat meows and purports to tell the story of some cats in love…but it could perhaps refer to a suicide pact between two lovers (see the line Into the sea/You and me.
Or, it could just be about cats.
6. The Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut
This list just wouldn’t be complete without this ditty from the Stray Cats, using alley cats as a metaphor for young free spirits wandering around city streets on the prowl for adventure…and chicks.
7A & 7B. Primus – Tommy the Cat & Too Many Puppies
A double-threat here from Primus. They’re responsible for both a Dog song and a Cat song, with both acting as metaphors. Tommy the Cat employ the same use of the titular feline as the Stray Cat Strut did, but with slightly more…risqué undertones. Sample lyric (since Les Claypool is practically indecipherable in the song):
Many a head snapped for double even triple
Takes as this vivacious feline made her
Her way into the delta of the alleyway
Where the most virile of the young
Tabbys were known to hang out
As for Too Many Puppies, this time the band trades in sexual innuendos for commentary on war policies:
Too many puppies are trained not to bark.
At the sight of blood that must be spilled so that
We may maintain our oil fields.
8. Old Shep
This classic country tune, originally written by Red Foley & Arthur Willis, was sang by a young Elvis Presley at his first public performance, netting him fifth place in a county fair competition. He later recorded his own version once his music career was gaining momentum.
The song tells the story of a boy and his faithful dog, Shep, and the grief felt by the narrator when he has to put down his longtime friend. Despite the sad tones, it’s pretty good:
Another tearjerker, this song, originally written about the death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter of the same name, became a big hit for Gross in 1976. Anyone that has ever lost a dear pet can relate to the anguish expressed by the song’s lyrics, even if the whole thing is a bit cheesy.
Another of those ambiguous, “is it about a real car or a human” type songs, Phenomenal Cat is a quirky little ditty about a fat cat (oh hey, political undertones) perched in a tree, content to “wallow all day”. In the end, our titular feline is still hanging out in the tree, happy as a fat cat could be.
11. Scatman Crothers – Everybody Wants to be a Cat (from The Aristocats)
From the 1970 Disney classic The Aristocats, Everybody Wants To Be a Cat is the perfect way to close out this list. Performed by Scatman Crothers and his jazz band, the song is really about being a cool cat, featuring lyrics that make cats sound really special…because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at.
Honorable Mention – Muppets – The Cat Came Back
Fun with Rowlf, from the original Muppets television series.