Once upon a time, there was very little film and hardly any cats in that little bit. Want to see one of the very earliest special appearances of cats on film? Then you want to see The Sick Kitten, filmed by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1901 or 1903. (Sources vary.) And here it is. It's one of the first kitty closeups in film history. Imagine: a time with no cat vids.
But wait! Here's an 1895 snippet of a dog doing Loie Fuller's Serpentine Dance (which was a big deal at the time).