- "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 therefore Katniss Everdeen's primary adversary.
Cato lived in District 2 prior to the 74th Hunger Games and trained for the Hunger Games alongside his fellow district members. Like most career tributes, he volunteered for the Games.
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 Training Center, Cato and his fellow tributes train and prepare for the Games.
In the book, 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 when he wasn't looking and kept out of sight by using the climbing station. 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 disallowed.
In the book, 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." He also claims that anyone who hates the games is unintelligent.
Though Cato is not mentioned in the book during the bloodbath, he is heavily featured in the movie. 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 tries to pass him, but Cato starts to fight him and injures him. He hears Glimmer scream, so he takes a serrated sword and stabs the District 6 male with it, causing it to bend, giving the appearance of a scythe.
- "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 tributes. Peeta joins the Career pack shortly after the bloodbath because the Careers thought he would 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.
- "Go on, then, Lover Boy. See for yourself."
- ―Cato to Peeta[src]
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 a dead 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.
- "When we find her, I kill her in my own way, and no one interferes."
- ―Cato about Katniss[src]
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 career's 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 career's 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 "begs her to stay with him," hinting that there may have been more to their relationship than originally thought. However Katniss knows it is too late for Clove to be saved and she dies in Cato's arms.
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.
- "Shoot me and he goes down with me."
- ―Cato to Katniss[src]
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 by the way that he smiles when he stops laughing. 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 the almost unconscious 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 differs slightly. Unlike the book, he is already on top of the Cornucopia, bloodied, beaten, and armed only with his baton, 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.
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 had not been very pretty, thinking specifically of Cato's and Glimmer's ends.
Katniss recounts the bloodlust of tributes from District 2, among them Cato.
She thinks of Cato several times throughout Mockingjay, the first being when she encounters mockingjays, an incident which causes her to remember how the birds had started singing just before the mutts "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
- "Worn down by the Victory Tour, failing in my attempt to calm the districts, facing the memories of Clove and Cato, particularly Cato's gruesome, slow death by mutts."
- ―Katniss's thoughts about the Victory Tour[src]
She later visits District 2 on her Victory Tour and sees Cato's grieving family among the spectators. While sitting in the entrance hall of the Justice Building, she remembers how weary she had been during her visit to District 2 on the Victory Tour, as it had been hard to face the memories of Cato and Clove, particularly Cato, who had died such a gruesome death.
- "Brutal, bloody Cato who can snap a neck with a twist of his arm, who had the power to overcome Thresh[.]"
- ―Katniss's thoughts about Cato's physical capabilities[src]
In the book, 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 book, 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. This cinematic version of Cato is depicted as having short-cropped, slightly spiked, blond hair and blue eyes.
- "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 the pampered, privileged community of District 2, Cato is self-centered and immune to the suffering of others. He is very passionate about the Games, which fuels his immense arrogance. He believes that the Games are noble and anyone who disagrees is unintelligent, a comment which even shocked Caesar Flickerman. His competitive nature guides his almost every action, fueling his hatred of Katniss for her high training score and inciting his own loss of rationality when faced with a simple defeat. His temper often gets the better of him, as seen when he is too angry to salvage usable items from the ruins of his wrecked supplies, instead taking his anger out on a fellow tribute. Too often he lets anger get in the way of common sense.
As a Career, Cato's arrogance is evident in the way he treats other tributes and the Games themselves. He has little to no regard for human life, thinking only of his own future as a victor, and doesn't take the time to be thorough, as he is overly confident in his abilities to win the Games. This is seen several times, most notably when he reportedly kills the District 8 female but has to send someone back to finish the job and when he cuts Peeta's leg but doesn't succeed in killing him. In the end, it is his arrogance that costs him the Games, as he underestimates Katniss's abilities during the final stage of the Games, giving her the opportunity to shoot an arrow through his hand and throw him to the mutts.
Despite his cruelty and apathetic nature, Cato eventually realizes his own brutality, as seen during the climax of the film. By the end of the Games, his mind has clearly deteriorated, as he is finally starting to uncover the truth behind his own immense strength and the training he has received as a resident of District 2. Bitter about his own ease when it comes to killing and the predetermined goal of the Capitol's to kill off their tributes, Cato almost seems regretful when faced with another life to be taken. This roundabout as a character is displayed only in the film.
In the novel he is shown to be close to his district partner Clove, and her death according to Katniss hurt him as his only ally and friend left in the arena dies. Accordingly, "he begged her to stay with him", especially since the game makers changed the rules at the time to where there could be two victors if both originate from the same district. Her death would further deteriorate his mind and leave him the most vulnerable in the games.
- "He's got some kind of body armor!"
- ―Katniss about Cato[src]
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.
- "Better clear out so they can get the body before it starts stinking."
- ―Cato reportedly about the District 8 female[src]
Cato makes only one confirmed kill, the District 3 male, though Katniss speculates that he also killed Thresh. It is possible that he killed several other tributes during the bloodbath, as he was a Career Tribute with infinite access to the weapons in the Cornucopia.
Cato uses brute strength to kill the District 3 male. In the book, he grabs the boy in a headlock and jerks his head to the side, killing him instantly.
During the bloodbath, 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 is 6'2" and weighs 185 pounds.
- His odds of winning are 3-1, making him the tribute with the highest odds. He shares these odds with the District 8 male.
- According to the film, Cato is 18 years old, but according to the tribute guide, he is 16 years old.
- He survived 18 days in the book and 9 days in the film.
- Cato was the only Career that Katniss killed out of mercy rather than simply trying to defend herself.
- Cato is the only deceased tribute in the 74th Hunger Games to die, but not become a mutt mutation.
- (SPOILER) Cato's death is very similar to Finnick Odair's death as both were attacked by Mutts before they were put out of their misery by Katniss.
- When he killed the District 6 Male, the serrated sword bent because it was a rubber prop. Many fans that it was a scythe because of this. He also used a bar mace which was confused to be a machete and a baton.