- "Go on, shoot. And we both go down, and you win. Go on. I'm dead, anyway! I always was, right? I didn't know that until now. Isn't that what they want, huh? No! I can still do this. I can still do this. One more kill. It's the only thing I know how to do. Bring pride to my district. Not that it matters."
- ―Cato's final speech[src]
Cato is the main antagonist of The Hunger Games. He was the male tribute from District 2 in the 74th Hunger Games. He was the leader of the Career pack, the strongest tribute in the arena, and Katniss Everdeen's primary adversary.
74th Hunger Games
In the film, Cato and his district partner Clove enter the tribute parade wearing Roman-esque outfits. After the parade, Cato glares at the District 12 team because they have outshone the other tributes.
In the novel, Cato trains at the spear-throwing station and displays his prowess with the weaponry. He most likely shows off these skills to the Gamemakers in his private session, as he receives a high training score of 10.
In the film, the Careers target Peeta's weakness and view him as what Katniss describes as a "meal" until Peeta shows his true strength by throwing a 100-pound metal ball into a rack of spears. Later on in the film, Cato is angered when he thinks that the District 6 male took his knife, which was actually stolen by Rue. He provokes a fight with the other boy, threatening to make him his first target, until the Peacekeepers separate them, as conflict before the Games is not allowed.
In the novel, Katniss describes Cato as playing up the angle of a "ruthless killing machine." In the film, when questioned by Caesar Flickerman, Cato responds by saying that he is "vicious and ready to go."
Though Cato is not mentioned in the novel during the bloodbath, he is heavily featured in the film. Like most of the other tributes, Cato runs toward the Cornucopia and fights for supplies. He first targets the District 6 male, as he had promised to do in the Training Center, and beats him up. The District 10 male and the District 5 Male try to attack Cato, but he pushes them onto the floor. He later slashes the District 5 male, causing him and to cough up blood onto a crate and later stabs the District 6 male with a serrated sword.
- "The strong band together to hunt down the weak then, when the tension becomes too great, begin to turn on one another. I don't have to wonder too hard who has made this alliance. It'll be the remaining Career Tributes from Districts 1, 2, and 4. Two boys and three girls. The ones who lunched together."
- ―Katniss's thoughts during the early stages of the Games[src]
As is typical in the arena, the Career Tributes of the 74th Hunger Games form an alliance. The alliance at first includes Marvel and Glimmer from District 1, Cato and Clove from District 2, and the District 4 female. Peeta joins the Career pack shortly after the bloodbath because the Careers think he will be useful in their attempts to look for Katniss. Later in the Games, Peeta betrays the Careers and is subsequently kicked out of the pack, while the District 3 male becomes a new and likely reluctant member.
On the first night of the Games, the Careers manage to track down the District 8 female via the fire she foolishly starts in the middle of the night. The Careers attempt to kill her, but when the Gamemakers withhold cannon fire, Peeta goes back to "finish the job." In his absence, the Careers argue over whether they should let him live or not, though they ultimately decide to leave him alive, as he is their best chance at finding Katniss.
- Katniss: "How's everything with you?"
Cato: "Well enough. Yourself?"
Katniss: "It's been a bit warm for my taste. The air's better up here. Why don't you come on up?"
Cato: "Think I will."
- —Cato and Katniss
A few days into the Games, after an enormous fire forces the tributes together, the Careers find Katniss and chase her up a tree. Cato attempts to follow her into the tree, but he falls due to his heavy weight. Glimmer tries next, but meets the same failure. At the urging of Peeta, the Careers decide to make camp below Katniss's tree so she can't escape without them knowing.
While stuck in the tree, Katniss cuts down a tracker jacker nest, which falls onto the sleeping Careers and chases them away from her tree. While Glimmer and the District 4 female die from their stings before they can make it to safety, Cato and the others escape to a nearby lake, where they fend off the remaining insects. With the Careers distracted, Katniss manages to pry the bow and arrows from Glimmer's corpse, but Peeta returns and urges her to run. As he does so, Cato cuts his way through the brush and realizes what Peeta has done. Enraged at Peeta's betrayal, Cato engages the other tribute in a fight, a fight which Peeta swiftly loses, escaping only with a severe leg wound, tracker jacker strings, and burns retained from the fire.
Some time later, while the Careers are still nursing their wounds, Cato and his allies stumble upon the District 3 male, whom they let join their alliance on the condition that he rewires the mines in the arena to protect their supplies.
When the Careers catch sight of smoke from Rue's lit fire (a decoy for the Careers), they go to kill her, taking the District 3 male along at Cato's insistence. In their absence, Foxface manages to steal supplies from the Careers' camp by stepping carefully around the mine indentations. This makes Katniss realize that the District 3 male has reactivated the mines in the form of a booby trap. Carefully shooting open a bag of apples, which spill out onto the ground around the Careers' camp, Katniss manages to activate all the mines at once, effectively destroying the Careers' supplies. When Cato returns with his allies, he descends into a fit of rage and snaps the neck of the District 3 male, killing him instantly. His allies eventually manage to calm him down, and the Careers stride back into the woods to hunt.
During the feast, Cato and Clove return to the Cornucopia and lie in wait for their backpack, which contains an item that they desperately need. It is unknown why only Clove went in for the backpack, but by the time she is dying at the hands of Thresh, Cato is too far away to save her. As Katniss flees the feast, she sees Cato kneel beside Clove and beg her to stay with him. However, Clove soon succumbs to her injuries.
By this time, Thresh has stolen both his own backpack and Cato's, which is most likely what motivates Cato to pursue Thresh instead of Katniss. Presumably, Cato follows Thresh and kills him. Katniss speculates that the District 2 backpack contained body armor to fend against her arrows.
On the last day of the Games, wolf-like muttations appear out of nowhere, chasing a bloodied and beaten Cato out of the woods. Katniss and Peeta think he is on his way to kill them, so Katniss shoots an arrow at his chest, but it bounces off since he is wearing some sort of body armor that was thought to be in District 2's backpack. Ignoring Katniss's arrow, Cato rockets past Katniss and Peeta, and makes his way to the Cornucopia. The two race after him after catching sight of the mutts.
Once on top of the Cornucopia, Cato takes a few moments to catch his breath before he grabs Peeta in a headlock, effectively cutting off his ability to breathe. When Katniss points an arrow at his head, Cato merely laughs and points out that if she shoots him, Peeta will fall to the mutts as well. Katniss figures out that if Peeta dies, Cato will use his body as a shield against her arrows. Almost out of options, Peeta shakily draws an "X" in blood on Cato's hand with his finger. Katniss then shoots her arrow into Cato's hand, forcing him to reflexively release Peeta and fall to the mutts. At first, Cato fights the mutts off, as the sound of his sword against the Cornucopia can be heard for a long time. Eventually, despite his great strength and skill, he is disabled, and the mutts brutally attack him for what seems like hours, as he is too exhausted to defend himself.
When dawn comes, Katniss can't take Cato's moans of pain and despair any longer and decides to use her last arrow to end his suffering. With Peeta's help, she leans down into the mouth of the Cornucopia and finds a savagely bloodied Cato lying at the back. He mouths the word "please," and out of pity, not vengeance, she shoots the arrow into his head, killing him instantly.
In the film, Cato's death is slightly different. Unlike the novel, he is already on top of the Cornucopia - bloodied and beaten - before Katniss and Peeta arrive. He manages to attack both tributes at once in a last desperate attempt to kill them and puts Peeta in a headlock while Katniss is distracted by the mutts. When she turns around, ready to shoot Cato with her bow, he points out to her that if she shoots him, both he and Peeta will fall to the mutts. He then rants about how the Capitol has made him into a pawn, as all he knows how to do is kill and his only goal in life is to bring pride to his district. When he falls to the mercy of the mutts, he does not suffer for very long, as Katniss shoots an arrow into his head almost seconds after his fall.
Cato placed third out of 24 tributes.
Katniss's memories while in District 12
Due to post-traumatic stress, Katniss begins to have frequent nightmares about the arena, one of which involves Cato dying at the claws of the mutts. She later admits that most of the deaths in the Games were not very pretty, thinking specifically of Cato's and Glimmer's ends.
Katniss's memories while in District 13
She thinks of Cato several times, the first being when she encounters mockingjays, an incident which causes her to remember how the birds had started singing just before the mutts had "gnawed Cato to a bloody pulp." She later remembers how tracker jacker venom had messed with her head, making her question whether Peeta had saved her from Cato or not.
Visit to District 2
Katniss later visits District 2 and recalls seeing Cato's grieving family during the Victory Tour. While sitting in the entrance hall of the Justice Building, she recalls the weariness of visiting District 2 on the Victory Tour, as it had been hard to be reminded of Cato and Clove, particularly Cato, who had died such a gruesome death.
In the novel, Cato's physical appearance is not addressed beyond Katniss's observations that he is a "physical wonder," with a robust stature and powerful, visibly well-muscled arms. He is the second largest tribute, only being slightly smaller than Thresh. He is capable of snapping a neck with his bare hands and demonstrates his raw physical power several times throughout the novel, most notably when he single-handedly fights off a pack of muttations for over an hour.
In the film, he retains his powerful figure, towering over the other tributes at six-foot-two, shorter only than Marvel. He has short-cropped, slightly spiked blond hair and blue eyes.
Personality and traits
- "I believe Cato could easily lose his judgment in a fit of temper. Not that I can feel superior on that point. I think of the moment I sent the arrow flying into the apple in the pig's mouth when I was so enraged. Maybe I do understand Cato better than I think."
- ―Katniss compares herself to Cato[src]
Having been raised in District 2, a district with strong ties to the Capitol and general enthusiasm for the Hunger Games, Cato is aggressive, bloodthirsty, and violent. He shows disregard for his fellow tributes' lives and kills without hesitation, even seeing it as a means of achieving glory and honor. This is made all the more effective by his prowess in battle, as Cato is physically large and well-built, can wield spears and swords with proficiency, and displays impressive endurance and vitality.
Cato's competitive nature is even more extreme than those of his fellow Careers, as he harbors a deep resentment of Katniss due to her high training score and iterates to his allies that he must be the one to kill her. When faced with a defeat, Cato abandons all rationality, instead losing his temper, throwing a tantrum, and often taking out his rage on those he perceives as responsible for his predicament. His fury is so extreme that Katniss describes it as "comical," though she is frightened by his instability, immense power, and personal vendetta against her.
Due to his strength and skills, Cato is arrogant and overestimates his own abilities. This more often than not leads to his failure to follow through on a kill, most notably when he fails to finish off Peeta after the tracker jacker incident. Ultimately, his arrogance is his downfall, as he is slow to react to Katniss shooting his hand due to believing he has already won the fight.
In the film, Cato suffers a mental breakdown. Though he retains his brutality and fighting instincts, he laments how he has been bred to kill and how the Capitol does not care whether he lives or dies. He shows hesitance and regret when faced with having to kill Peeta, though he ultimately resolves to do so in order to bring pride to his district.
At the onset of the Games, Cato has access to almost every resource, as he and his allies hold control over the Cornucopia supplies. Known possessions of the Careers include food, water, medicine, night vision glasses, and weapons of all sorts. After the supplies are blown up, the Careers are left with little to sustain themselves. Cato appears to still possess a spear and a sword following the explosion, as he uses both weapons after the rest of his supplies are obliterated.
Cato is later given high tech body armor from the Capitol, though it is unknown whether this gift came through the District 2 backpack or a sponsor's parachute. It was made of a durable material that could withstand Katniss's arrows and allowed Cato to suffer for hours while the mutts chewed away at his flesh.
Cato uses brute strength to kill the District 3 male. In the novel, he grabs the boy in a headlock and jerks his head to the side, killing him instantly.
In the film, Cato uses a variety of weapons to dispose of his competitors. His first target is the District 6 male, whom he beats up and later cuts open with a serrated sword. He injures the District 10 male by using a bar mace on the boy's chest.
- Cato survived 18 days in the novel and 9 days in the film.
- According to the film, Cato is 18 years old, but according to the tribute guide, he is 16 years old.
- In the film, Cato is 6'2" and weighs 185 pounds.
- In the film, Cato's odds of winning are 3-1, making him the tribute with the highest odds. He shares these odds with the District 8 male.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, Katniss states that Cato killed Thresh. However, this is not in-line with the film continuity, as Thresh was killed by the mutts in the first film.
- In a deleted scene for the film, Cato mentions during his interview that he has wanted to participate in the Hunger Games since he was a child.