Planning a movie night with your family or some fellow animal lovers? We’ve seen our fair share of films featuring our favorite species from the animal kingdom, and we’ve rounded up our go-to movies — the ones we can watch again and again.

So get comfy on the sofa, grab some popcorn (and, in some cases, a box of tissues) and pop in one of these fantastic flicks.

The Three Lives of Thomasina

Disney’s The Three Lives of Thomasina is the wondrous tale of a loyal kitty who sacrifices three of her precious nine lives for her human family. After Thomasina loses one of her lives to a gang of dogs, little Mary McDhui takes her beloved cat to her widowed veterinarian father, who declares that she can’t be saved. Unbeknownst to the McDhui family, Thomasina has eight more lives to spare and awakens from the dead; only, she can’t remember the little girl who loves her so. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out how Thomasina loses her other two lives, but we will reveal that her journey to reunite with Mary involves a friendly witch and a circus. Also, cat heaven is even better than it sounds.

Lady and the Tramp

We firmly believe that this cartoon should be mandatory viewing for all children. We’re smitten by Lady’s clear love for and loyalty to her owners and can’t help but tear up a bit at her confusion over Jim Dear and Darling’s new baby. The songs are beyond catchy, and the entire cast of supporting characters — even Aunt Sara and her horrible cats — have found a place in our hearts as permanent as Lady’s spot at the foot of the bed.

Bringing Up Baby

If you’ve ever seen a Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant movie, you know the amazing chemistry this duo packs. Throw in a pet leopard named Baby and an excitable Wire Fox Terrier named George, and you’ve got cinematic gold. Hepburn’s character, a mischievous heiress with too much time on her hands, tries to win over an already-engaged zoology professor (Grant) and uses the adorable Baby to her advantage. This screwball comedy and its quirky cast of human and animal characters will not disappoint.

My Dog Skip

My Dog Skip certainly pulls at the heartstrings, but with its emotional lessons and relatable scenes, it is a must-see for animal lovers. It is impossible not to hope that Willie, a shy and lonely boy growing up in the South, will find a friend. When his parents give him a puppy for his ninth birthday, his wishes and ours come true. He finds the best kind of friend in Skip, and we get to watch them grow up together, through good times and some bad. And although every dog lover will want to change the sad ending, like everything else, all good things must come to an end. But at least you can watch the movie over and over again!


Based on a true story, Hachi follows the relationship between a kind-hearted college professor (Richard Gere) and an Akita puppy he rescues from a train station. Hachi is a one-man dog, following his master everywhere. When he can’t go to work with the professor, he waits patiently at the train station every day for his human to come home. Hachi’s devotion to his master and their mutual love — which spills over to encompass the rest of the family — make this an ideal movie for your family. But be warned: This is a tear-jerker, of almost epic proportions.

Born Free

This 1966 film (with its Academy Award-winning score) recounts the efforts of George and Joy Adamson as they raised and returned to the wild what may be the world’s most famous lioness, Elsa. Born Free is credited with helping to spark the modern-day wildlife conservation movement. The movie includes some harsh life lessons about the lives of wild animals that may be tough for younger children to understand, but otherwise, this is a terrific family film. The African flora and fauna are beautiful to watch; for us, though, the most amazing part of the movie is the bond between the Adamsons and their lions. The film is so realistic that you almost forget that these actors aren’t the real Adamsons. The stars of the film, Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, insisted on working with the lions themselves, instead of using trainers or stunt doubles. The experience not only permanently bonded them to their leonine costars but also turned them into real-life advocates for wild animals.

Dolphin Tale

Kids love this movie, which is based on the true story of a young bottlenose dolphin who is crippled for life after getting tangled in a crab trap. The sure-fire formula of a lonely, misunderstood boy learning lessons of love, loyalty and perserverance via an animal leads both of them to learn to live with their imperfections and, in a way, to thrive because of and in spite of their limitations. Dolphin Tale teaches kids to respect differences and not see physical infirmities as something to fear, dismiss or denigrate.

If you are ever around Clearwater, Fla., you can visit Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and see other animals who have been inadvertently hurt by cars, fishing line and motorboats — an obvious yet touching reminder of how humans can and do negatively affect the lives of other creatures. We don’t imagine anyone leaves without making a secret promise to be more aware and careful.


When it comes to inspiring animal heroes, it doesn’t get much better than Balto. The film, which made the Siberian Husky a star, tells the story of the 1925 serum run that ended a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. We adore the animated movie’s cast, with Kevin Bacon as the voice of Balto, Phil Collins as Muk and Luk (two polar bears who don’t know how to swim), and Bob Hoskins as a goose who gets "people-bumps." Balto has its great comedic moments, but what it really leaves you with are lessons in altruism, fearlessness and self-acceptance. Balto himself puts it best: "Since when do you need a pedigree to help someone?"

Read more Vetstreet articles about animal movies.