The Cat Came Back

“WHAT THE F-!!!!”

Directed by Cordell Barker; Produced by Richard Condie, Cordell Barker; Written by Cordell Barker; Based on: The Cat Came Back by Harry S. Miller; Starring: Richard Condie. A cartoon released on June 22, 1988.

Boy, oh boy! What a treat we have here! A cartoon well worthy of its spot on the 50 greatest cartoons. It’s got catchy music, great jokes, fun animation, and… isn’t… even a Warner Bros. cartoon. Oops. Let me try it again.

“And she kicked me right here! Right where I sit down!”

Supervision by Isadore Freleng; Animation by Robert McKimson and Ben Clopton. A Merrie Melody released on February 8, 1936. (The last cartoon to be produced in Cinecolor.)

There we go. That’s what we’re used to. And look at the… um, cuties? Look, you should really be aware of my feelings toward cats by now. The only way I could find them cute is roasted to a golden brown, with some of those paper things at the end of its legs, and a garnish on top. But I’ll digress for now. The kittens are having a wonderful time while mother cat watches. And just across the way from the basement they live in is a family of mice.

Things are a little less joyous in the mouse house. Mother mouse is busy lecturing her pups about the evil kats. (sic.) Mere hyperbole and mouse propaganda, right? Hardly! For at this very moment, Mrs. Meow is teaching her kittens how to attack and probably kill mice. Which ordinarily wouldn’t seem too strange, but all the animals are on a similar scale of size. Instead of predator and prey, it just looks like a gang war.

At least Mrs. Squeak doesn’t stop at just talking, she also has the brains to train her children on dodging paws. (She has whiskers now?) But one little mouse can’t help but take a peek outside the hole and see what the world is really like. A kitten cross the way has similar aspirations. At last, the two star-crossed lovers can finally meet! I kid. Actually, they look ready for a rumble. Guess their mothers really did get through to them.

It’s then that Mrs. Squeak catches sight of what’s going on. She tells the kitten to leave her kid alone, and we learn that she was set to become the fourth Chippette before  she became a mother. (Oh? Would you like to explain her sudden change of voice then?) The little cat tries to follow because… it either wants to eat them, or it has learned that the mouse isn’t so different from its kind after all? Its reason doesn’t matter, because the mouse matriarch throws the cat right back out.

The little cat tells its mother what happened, and she goes to give the neighbor a piece of her mind. Squeak ain’t having any of it, and gives her eyes a good poking. She’s won this round, so Mrs. Meow has no choice but to drag her offspring home. Later, as the kitten mopes around, the mouse invites it to come have some fun together. (I guess it got over its hatred too.) The two do some dancing, before the cat falls into an open sewer. (What a typical cat.)

Meow heard those screams (That didn’t occur during the actual falling part.) and runs right over. We skip the tired cliche of her thinking the mouse was behind it all, as the mouse decides to jump in after its new pal. Also becoming alert is Squeak who makes an actual effort to rescue her kid. It doesn’t work, but I give points for effort. The mouse isn’t able to catch up to the cat because of the strong current. (Why is there a cuckoo clock, guitar and chair down here? These animals are just as bad as humans.)

The cat comes to a whirlpool, and is close to death. Time for the mouse to save the day! While holding on to a plank of wood up above, it lowers its tail to be grabbed on. (So, maybe its not a food related animosity. Maybe the cats just hate being constantly shown up.) The whirlpool is strong and twists the mouse like taffy, turning it into a makeshift helicopter. The two fly out. They are safe!

They return home and the two families decide to bury the hatchet and be friends. But wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Meow just can’t get over that eye poke from earlier and she starts pounding Mrs. Squeak. (Cats also can’t forgive.) Being impressionable youths, the children forego their friendly ways and go back to how things were before.

Favorite Part: Mrs. Squeak training her kids to dart through active mousetraps. The cherry on top is her smile. “Yes, Billy. I want you to enter this contraption that can snap your neck. It’s for your own good.” You can’t prove there’s no risk.

Personal Rating: 2 If you only want to watch the first cartoon up there, I understand.

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