"Offscreen cat noises are funny. Period."
Every time a vehicle crashes, trash cans fall over, something blows up
, or any chaos occurs off-screen
, after the sounds of breaking glass and other Stock Sound Effects
, we hear some poor cat yowl in startlement and/or pain. Just like the poor Wilhelm fellow of Stock Scream
fame, this unfortunate feline is everywhere, attracting disaster and voicing its unhappiness even in areas where a cat couldn't or wouldn't be present. Maybe A Wizard Did It
Very much an Undead Horse Trope
. Often falls under Dude, Not Funny!
It's okay to be amused by the thought of a discomforted kitty, of course, because Cats Are Mean
. (And they've got nine lives, so they can probably afford to spare a few). Might very well have to do with The Cat Came Back
, considering it sounds like the same cat each and every time. Avoids Offscreen Inertia
by occurring out of the audience's line of sight
, no matter how tortured that poor cat may sound.
Compare with Kick the Dog
, which on rare occasion overlaps. Should not be confused with That Poor Car
, which is an entirely different trope. Also not to be confused with the movie That Darn Cat!
. See also Cat Concerto
, where the cat's yowling is a musical performance on the back fence.
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- There's an ad for Barclays Bank that has a man chasing a pallet of gold bars on a tilting floor. They keep sliding away. At the end of the advert, with the help of Our Product, the bars slide downhill towards him and there's a crash as they collide offscreen. Then a yowling cat (out of nowhere) slides past too.
- There's an ad for a Louisiana lawyer called Patrick Daniel that uses blue screen effects to make it look like he's driving a car that's falling apart. He throws the steering wheel off screen and we hear a cat yowl.
- Koodo had a radio commercial where El Tabador tries to fly. He crashes and, upon hearing the cat sounds, points out that his neighbor owns a lot of cats.
Anime and Manga
- In the first episode of Midori Days, a cat gets hit in a blind panic by a character not once, but twice, in front of the same house. By the end of the episode, the cat is on a roof covered in bandages.
- The same cat gets hit at least once per episode, during the entire series. He still gets a very happy ending, though.
- Shows up in the Digital World when Jou briefly skids offscreen in Episode 11, hitting what is presumably a cat-like In-Training/Baby II stage digimon.
- In an example of "why was there a cat there?", when the Fine Arts Club has to get supplies from the adjacent storeroom, after the crashing and screaming we hear the cat... in a sealed-off, unused art room.
- A Sailor Moon episode had a variant: when Usagi decides to ditch her diet, her cat Luna taunts her by drawing a picture of her looking puffed up like a pig and telling her this is how she'll look a year from now if she keeps stuffing herself that way. As the "camera" tilts up away from Usagi's bedroom from outside the house, we hear her yell "Luna!!!" and hear Luna yowling in terror.
- Subverted in one of the shorts for Haiyoru! Nyaru-Ani, Nyarlko's beat her pet Shantak and you hear a cow yelling.
Film - Animated
- Puss in Boots from Shrek movies often had this trope invoked on him.
- Shrek 2: When the "Happily Ever After" potion takes effect on Shrek and he faints, we hear a cat screaming... presumably because Shrek landed on Puss-In-Boots when he passed out. Look closely that the following scene, and you can see Puss pulling his hat out from under Shrek.
- Shrek the Third: Puss-in-Boots does his cat screech when Shrek throws him out to the window.
- Shrek Forever After: Donkey startled Puss-in-Boots.
- Variant: in Kung Fu Panda during the final battle, after twirling Tai Lung around by his tail for several minutes, Po forces him to bite down on it. We then receive the on-screen sound-effect of a piteous, kitten-like mew. Rather demeaning for the proud warrior, but that was probably the point.
- In Toy Story, Rex is pointing a flashlight at the bushes, in order to search for Buzz from the window (Buzz fell into the bushes earlier after a stint Woody pulled backfired horribly), Rex spots something in the bushes and inquires if its Buzz. The response is a cat screeching. All the toys then groan and Rex says in a sharp whisper "Whiskers, will you get outta there?! You're interfering with a search-and-rescue!"
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits: When the pirates were parking their ship with a crash, there was a cat shrieking.
- Rise of the Guardians: A poor cat that lives in a building Jack and Sandy crash through while chasing Nightmares.
- Monsters University: When Sully tosses Mike's textbook out the window, there is the shriek of a cat from outside.
- Free Birds: A cat screams when Governor Bradford tosses a pitchfork aside.
- The Boxtrolls features this among other sounds produced by a giant cheese wheel crashing through the town of Cheesebridge.
- Bolt has a small bit on this. Bolt is begging for food at a trailer park, and when Mittens decided to step in, she almost got hit with a frying pan.
Film - Live Action
- The Man With Two Brains. "Get that cat outta here!" "REOWWR!"
- The Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban film, when the Knight Bus pulls up to the Leaky Cauldron.
- Possible reference in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey: the "evil robot usses", while landing the time machine, intentionally aim for a cat on the ground below. The cat escapes.
- They do it again later, this time in a stolen hot rod — and miss again.
- Borderline Lampshade Hanging in the comedy Baby's Day Out. One of the criminals says as their van speeds through an alley, "I think we hit a cat."
- Possibly related: The B-Movie Curse of the Queerwolf uses accidental dog deaths as a Running Gag.
- During the famous darts scene of Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks improvised one of these.
- In the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, Dave elicits one of these when he throws his music equipment into the yard. Unnervingly, he proceeds to throw the rest of his equipment in the same general direction.
- Hot Shots uses a small dog that somehow constantly manages to be sat on no matter where people are. He gets lucky at the end of the movie when two slabs of beef are dropped on him.
- Dark variant in the Daredevil movie, where a woman screaming offscreen after Bullseye misses his mark is used for this same effect.
- Borat contains a fantastic version of this; it's established early on that Borat inexplicably has a chicken with him on his trip. Toward the end, in despair, he drops his one piece of luggage on the ground. Cue a loud buckaw sound.
- In Kung Fu Hustle: After the three kung fu masters spar, one of them falls off a balcony onto a cat. The Musical Assassins also cut a cat in half off screen (in silhouette), but it's silent.
- In Muppets from Space, this sound is heard while Gonzo is mowing the lawn... so yeah.
- Muppet Treasure Island, on the other hand, has a completely justified version of this, when Blind Pew is leaving the Benbow Inn after delivering the Black Spot to Billy Bones. As he leaves, he crashes into what are presumably rubbish bins, which topple, followed by the cat's yowl, and Blind Pew's exclamation "Out of my way, you stupid cat!" There is no reason a cat wouldn't be hanging around in trash outside an Inn, and Pew is...well, a blind fiend. The commentary reveals that they stuck in the cat noises in post production and the actor for Pierre improved the line.
- In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, a pathetic attempt at archery sends an arrow flying offscreen. Cue stock cat sound effect.
- In The Mask when the eponymous character tosses away a Tommy gun he's just been firing.
- The movie Postal has the main character using a cat as a silencer for his handgun. Thankfully, miraculously, and hilariously, the cat is totally unharmed afterwards.
- In the original movie version of The Fly (1958), a cat is the initial test subject for the teleporter. It does not rematerialize, but we hear its pitiful meow for a moment. (In the original story, it turns up again — sort of — in a rather disconcerting way.)
- In The Fly (1986), there was a deleted scene where a cat gets fused with a baboon.
- Inverted in The Boondock Saints when a gun discharges by accident when Rocco bangs his fists on the table to make a point, and ends up splattering his girlfriend's cat all over the wall.
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Arthur and Bedevere pass someone swinging something furry against a post, that makes a "RROWRR!" sound with every hit. In the Lego version of this scene included on the DVD, the cat is replaced by a parrot. According to the (long gone) LEGO Studio website, that scene actually did have an alternate "cat-squish" version that was even filmed, but the parrot was used instead because "LEGO cats don't squish well."
- Cat abuse is a running gag throughout the movie. While this is normally a horrible thing to joke about, it actually is funny because the cats are clearly fake and all the characters are completely nonchalant about it.
- When the Blue Raja is practicing his fork throwing at a target but missing in Mystery Men.
- Alien. Averted by Jonesy, who watches calmly as Brett is attacked by the xenomorph.
- In History of the World Part I, a cat is picked up, swung by its tail and thrown.
- Julie & Julia: Protagonist Julie Powell has a tantrum and throws things. Unusually for this trope, the cat heard yowling is actually an established character, Julie's beloved pet, so this doubles as one of Julie's Jerkass moments.
- In The Three Stooges short Malice in the Palace, Larry prepares hot dogs and rabbit for two ominous patrons. A dog and cat invade his kitchen as he is cooking and as Larry chops the food, as the animals howl over various accidents. When he brings out the food, everyone including Moe and Shemp are convinced it's roasted Rover and Kitty. It's not.
- In the sex spoof Live Nude Shakespeare, one of the actresses recites a line of Shakespeare while wielding a large sword. As she finishes, she lets it drop down point first. Cue cat yowl.
- Fatal Instinct. Occurs twice: once when Laura Lincolnberry punches and breaks the cookie jar, and again when she shoots Lola Cain and Lana Ravine at the same time.
- During the opening flashback sequence from Batman Returns, the Cobblepot family's cat wanders too close to the cage/playroom where baby Oswald (a.k.a. The Penguin) is being kept and is yanked right through the bars and into the cage before presumably being killed. Later, a cat is heard during the scene where Selina has her Freak Out and trashes of her apartment before her transformation into Catwoman.
- In Snakes on a Plane, the snakes' first victim is a cat in a pet carrier that's sitting beside their crate in the cargo hold. Dog variant happens later with the chihuahua that gets eaten by the anaconda
- Seen onscreen in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The cat, a gift packed by their senile, great-aunt, is let loose in the Griswold's home. Cat plays with tree's lighting wiring, the lights come off, Clark goes to plug them back in. That Poor Cat presumably still has the cord in his mouth, as a loud stock yowl is heard, and cuts to a burn in the carpet the shape of the cat.
- In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, when John is thrashing through the bushes prior to invading their house.
- In the original script for A Fish Called Wanda, there was a running gag in which Otto would randomly shoot the tails off of offscreen cats for no reason other than that, well, he's Otto. These scenes were cut in post-production because they didn't really contribute to the rest of the film. Besides, the film has plenty of gratuitous (yet hilarious) animal cruelty without the cat scenes.
- When Hellboy punched a troll disguised as an old lady in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, there is a cat screech heard, which makes sense seeing as she had a cart of cats she was about to eat.
- Sassy, the cat from the Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey movies, often had this trope invoked on her. The first time was when Chance chased her around the house when she kept piling on the insults on Chance during the wedding (which apparently ruined it slightly), the second time was when Chance catapulted her with the see-saw (which later turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun against a much bigger Mountain Lion), the third time was when Kate was busy feeding Chance, she accidentally stepped on Sassy's tail. The last time it happens is when the dogs rebounded when trying to escape a pound.
- Used repeatedly in Apt Pupil when Dussander is trying to force the cat into the oven.
- Turns up, of all places, in the Michael Moore documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. In the scene replaying President Bush's Our Economy Is In Danger speech, animation in the background shows the White House wrecked by earthquakes, tidal waves, fire, lightning and hurricanes, which blow that same old poor cat through the air right behind ol'El Presidente.
- Done in the french film La Cite De La Peur. Notable in that, because of a "low budget gag", a whole part of the film has sound effects done by the actors in the dubbing. And, yes, the cat scream was done by an actor, and the others comments "Wow, you do quite a good cat impression".
- In The Benchwarmers, Clark's bat flies out of his hands and hits 3 squirrels out of a tree.
- There's a cat screech during the truck steal scene in Free Willy.
- Inverted and Played for Drama in one of the Mood Whiplash scenes in Hocus Pocus: the black cat Binx (one of the good guys) is run over by the bus. Fortunately, being immortal, he gets better.
- The Egyptian has Nefer's cat. She is a Babylonian, so she has a Persian cat with a huge heavy coat. In Egypt. When we first see it it is panting heavily. You keep wishing one of the "gifts" she asks of Sinuhe would be "Shave my cat." When she dismisses him, he goes mad and walks slowly toward her with murder in his eyes. The cat screeches in warning and she drops it.
- Happens in D3: The Mighty Ducks after one of Fulton's slapshots.
- The Tooth Fairy: When Derek tries to get out from the house, he ran into an angry growling cat. The cat goes after Derek while trying to get out of the house. When Derek gets close to the door flap, he uses an airhorn, and the cat jumps up like crazy, then goes off.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer starts its first chapter with a cat being hurt, and gleefully continues hurting them for the rest of the story.
Live Action TV
- Years ago, Sports Illustrated magazine printed an issue with a black cat on the cover. Given its infamous cover curse where the person or team featured on it would soon have misfortune of some sort, no-one was willing to pose for the issue. This was subsequently covered by NBC's Today Show, and the newscasters pondered out loud if something was going to happen to the cat. Cue offscreen cat yowl.
- In the opening titles of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (the original marionette version), it's the sound of a bottle being knocked over and a cat screeching that alerts Scarlet to the presence of an enemy.
- In the sketch "Last Will and Temperament" by Canadian comedy troupe The Frantics, a will reading contains the sentence "And to my cat Mittens, I leave my entire, vast... boot to the head." Cue an audible thump, followed by an anguished yowl. A later television version kept the cat completely off-screen, but abused it nonetheless. It isn't simply a stock sound effect of the cat screaming either, but is rather long and draws itself out for a few seconds. Watch it here.
- Subverted by the Reduced Shakespeare Company in their radio show. In a discussion of how pain was funny, they have sound effects of a cat and a frying pan. They receive a phone call where the caller tells them that frying a cat is over the line. Cue "Well, is it ok if I stick Adam's face in the frying pan?" "Sure, that'd be funny." "AAAAAHHHH!"
- Used in Im Sorry I Havent A Clue when they play Russian Roulette and Andy Hamilton fires over his shoulder. "Look, I'm sorry, but that cat was really annoying me."
- [[Weird Al's Weird Al]] music video for Handy, features a poor cat immediately after a line about mowing the lawn. He looks off screen in the direction of the poor cat he's just hit.
- Played for Drama in I Remember Mama. Uncle Elizabeth gets badly wounded, and his offstage howls of pain make Mama decide it's best to put him out of his misery.
- In both BioShock games, one can usually find a dead cat in every room.
- The cat in the locker in Silent Hill 1, which gets squashed or eaten by something after leaving the room.
- Or turns into something.
- Did you consider all of the above? Due to the content of this game, it's quite possible.
- Poor thing.
- Half-Life 2 anyone? "I still have nightmares about that cat."
- If you select File 1 of Banjo-Kazooie, there is a chance that the bed will flip Banjo out the window, where his landing presumably squishes a cat. Cue noise.
- In another Rare title, Kinect Sports, you have the option of sending your bowling ball wildly off course into the stands if you exaggerate a throw too far to the left or right. Screams, shattering glass and howls are heard, but the strained wail of an unfortunate cat have also found its way into the title.
- In the Syobon Action games, your character is a white cat playing in an extremely cruel Platform Hell Super Mario Bros. clone. Many players die hundreds of times while playing in tons of different ways. The cat sure takes a lot of abuse...
- In the 1992 version of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, apprehending the culprit could get a bit messy. In at least one of the animations, there was a cat that flew out of the mess meowing.
- In the intro cinematic for "Battlefield 2": Special Forces expansion pack, the Spec Ops class's zipline is showcased, and the end of the commando's zipline trip results in this. It is not possible in game.
- In Secret of Evermore, the Hero's dog chases after a cat at the beginning of the game. Later in the game, when the dog becomes a robotic toaster-dog, he chases the (same?) cat off-screen. Cue the sounds of Laser Fire and said cat yelling. Ouch.
- A couple times in Siren 2. You either hear the cat or see one running off.
- On-screen example in Chrono Trigger. When you defeat Ozzie by dropping him down a pit, a cat runs into the pit as well.
- The 2010 Halloween Update for Team Fortress 2 included "noisemakers" you can set off that play Halloween-themed sounds to the entire map. One of them is "Black Cat". In theory, it's supposed to be creepy. In practice, considering all the offscreen gunshots and explosions that occur during any given round, it devolves into this trope very quickly.
- Sly 2 Band of Thieves has a cat frequently screaming for its life in Episode 1 (which takes place in Paris). Although it's just ambient noise and not player-influenced.
- In one of the Rave-based Blaster games,going into certain rooms will result in a pitch black screen with distressful sound effects including this one, after which Rave comes out saying "You do NOT want to go in there!"
- In Splinter Cell Conviction, pulling someone out of the window of Kobin's mansion (the first guard in the room before Kobin's) will invoke this.
- In the 'deleted scene' for Worldof Warcraft video for Mists Of Pandaria, the human tosses an empty mug over his shoulder, generating this trope.
- In this episode of sporadic webcomic Think Mink a talk show guest Offscreen Cat tells how he isn't safe in any media. The host consoles him as best as she can and then accidentally hits him with a microphone.
- I Am Not Infected: During their journey to Compton, Hartley sees a cat (which remains of screen). He proceeds to empty all his ammunition shooting at it, while it responds with the familiar yowling sound effect.
- The Spoony One accidentally hits a cat when he throws away the Triforce in his Ultima I review.
- To Boldly Flee uses this as a joke in a Death Star spoof. Now why there was a cat in a Death Star shaped like a bomb is totally unknown.
- JitteryDragon loves using this trope in his The Land Before Time spoofs. Whenever someone trips, runs into something, or something falls or rolls offscreen, That Poor Cat is heard.
- At the end of his Classic Game Endings With Lyrics video, Brentalfloss falls offscreen, and we hear a crash and That Poor Cat.
- Red Letter Media's Half in the Bag makes abundant use of this trope.
- One trailer for Mr. Plinkett Reviews has this happening when he throws a DVD way. In a coffin.
- In the Team Fortress 2 fan-made short, Your Eternal Revenge, the Spy sabotages the Demoman's grenade launcher by replacing a grenade with a modified Your Eternal Reward. Tossing the replaced grenade aside, it explodes and we hear the Heavy's "ughha"