The White Cat of Evil first appeared in From Russia With Love. It could be glimpsed again, briefly, in Thunderball (1965), but was to have a more substantial role in Sean Connery’s fifth outing as Bond – something it would no doubt come to regret.
You Only Live Twice was scripted by Roald Dahl, and features one of John Barry’s best scores, with a great title-song sung by Nancy Sinatra. Donald Pleasence plays 007’s arch-enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who hi-jacks space capsules (I always feel terribly sorry for the astronaut who’s left drifting in space) and oversees operations from his headquarters inside a hollowed-out Japanese volcano.
As Blofeld’s role was expanded from previous Bond films, so was the role of his white cat. For most of the film it looks ill at ease and self-conscious, often staring straight into the camera, until – at the film’s climax – it makes it quite clear it would rather be anywhere else than in a supervillain’s HQ with loud explosions going off. Pleasence does jolly well to hang on to it and stay in character when it starts to struggle.
Obviously, there are downsides to being a White Cat of Evil.
I hope they made a fuss of the poor thing afterwards and gave it extra tuna treats. And I hope the animal-casting director learnt a lesson – if you’re going to put a cat into a scene like that, you had damn well better make sure it’s a cat which is accustomed to loud noises.