Felines are typically associated with feminity, coolness, elegance, dignity, and grace, but a lot of male cartoon cats are clownish or buffoonish instead. This trope is based on the fact that cats, especially tomcats (as females aren't a common choice for slapstick), in cartoons are more often portrayed as tough, cool, streetwise, belligerent, buffoonish, and/or oversexed than elegant, graceful, or dignified.
This can be considered partly a result of early cartoons heavily relying on Heroic Dog, and Nice Mice, thus making the cats the villainous fallguy to make the former look better. Follow the Leader from shows like Tom and Jerry is probably another influence.
Sometimes this trope is used because in order to root for a cat in a show with talking mice, they have to be less of a predator than the other cats. So it's really a case of Designated Villain/Defector from Decadence.
These cats are may be drawn with big, bulbous, clownlike noses that are often red in color.
- Gideon from Pinocchio is a mute character similar to Dopey of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fame. His idea to get Honest John's hat off his face is to hit him with a mallet.
- In An American Tail, the male cats all fit Cats Are Mean except for Tiger, who is a Cloud Cuckoolander Minion with an F in Evil and Cowardly Lion played by the late Dom De Luise.
- Nuka from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He sets the grass on fire with a burning stick, but he sets the grass surrounding him on fire.
- Averted for the most part in The Aristocats, in which O'Malley is just as sophisticated a hipster as Duchess is a well-bred, society cat. They get together and make jazz.
- Played straighter when O'Malley bravely dives into the water to save Marie. It backfires when he himself can't swim back to shore and has to be rescued by two geese. Or, alternatively, from said geese.
- Rare Female Example: Ratigan's pet cat in The Great Mouse Detective is female and used as something of a personal executioner, but due to her pudginess and slapstick depiction comes off as a gender swap of this, especially in her bout with Toby.
- The main character of Fritz the Cat, but probably justified because all of the characters are goofy.
- Nermal is turned to this in the Garfield films. He's Garfield's buffoonish sidekick.
- The Master and Margarita: Behemoth is a demon cat who's part of Satan's retinue. He's a Butt-Monkey who often makes an ass of himself, annoys the others with his commentary and is constantly told to shut up, and even a mere mortal like Margarita can pinch his ears without much consequence as punishment for butting in a conversation.
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat: Tabby is vain and neurotic and frequently the butt of slapstick disasters inadvertantly brought about by Wombat.
- In Warrior Cats, both averted and used... male Clan cats are more normal, but male kittypets tend to be a lot more goofy and friendly. The latter is probably because male kittypets usually neutered, as discussed in the books.
- Subverted in the book (and film) Felidae in which the main characters are intelligent male cats in one way or another. This becomes a plot point as it allows Francis to realize why Claudandus is committing the murders.
- Cat from Red Dwarf is an extremely vain and irresponsible humanoid who evolved from a cat.
- Garfield: Whenever Garfield is actually courting a female — usually Arlene — he seems to lose half his IQ. Basically, his most buffoonish moments are also the only moments in which he's written specifically as a tomcat rather than a generic feline.
- Bucky Katt of Get Fuzzy is a truly epic example, and virtually none of the cats in the strip come off well. In contrast, dogs seem to have a range of intelligence in the strip.
- Krazy Kat is either a straight example or a rare female example as his/her gender is ambiguous.
- Bill the Cat from Bloom County is The Unintelligible at best.
- Maru the Cat is a Japanese tomcat who got his fame due to his playful and goofy tricks posted on YouTube. At some point, Maru's YouTube channel was the 8th Most Subscribed channel and 11th Most Viewed YouTube channel of all time in Japan. As of 2016, he won a Guinness world record.
- In general, the entire LO Lcats phenomenon could be considered a modern incarnation of this trope.
- Tom from Tom and Jerry is usually the losing end of the titular rivalry, though a few cartoons have him win, and he's temporarily suave in some cartoons. In general, he's still a Butt-Monkey.
- Looney Tunes:
- Sylvester. Even in cartoons where he's not chasing prey — there's a well-known one where he's trapped with Porky Pig in an abandoned hotel full of murderous mice, and they're the aggressors from start to finish — he's still portrayed as a buffoon. Sylvester is known for having one of the largest losing streaks along with Wile E. Coyote in classic looney tunes, even losing when he's in the right. Sylvester's only victory was against Porky in one short. He's also died the most out of the cast.
- Minor Looney Tunes character Claude Cat, who was both persecuted and persecuting, was played as an inept, anxiety-ridden loser.
- A "big cat" example: Pete Puma. He asked Bugs Bunny if he could have two lumps in his tea, but Bugs gives him two lumps on his head.
- The two cats in Bob Clampett's last Tweety cartoon, "Gruesome Twosome". One is dopey; the other is a moderately brighter fellow complete with Jimmy Durante voice and schnoz. Babbott and Catstello (especially Catstello), the antagonists from Tweety's 1942 debut, also fit this trope.
- Many male cats are portrayed this way, including Catstello from the first Tweety cartoon, the lion from "Roman Legion Hare," Conrad Cat from "Conrad the Sailor," and Benny.
- In the Looney Tunes cartoon starring Elmer Fudd and Sylvester, there was even a rare buffoonish female cat.
- Penelope Pussycat is a rare female version. Several cartoons show Penelope as clumsily, and luckless from the start, sometimes leading her to take a skunk disguise, but things get worse upon catching Pepé Le Pew's sight, she's reduced to a state of panic and often ends up falling into slapstick in her franticness.
- Riff Raff from Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.
- Katnip of Herman and Katnip was made to imitate Tom. Unlike Tom, Katnip ''never'' won against Herman. While Herman was intended to be heroic, many viewers considered him sadistic in attacking Katnip leading to the creation of Itchy and Scratchy below.
- The Itchy & Scratchy Show: Scratchy takes the Katnip roles to extremes. He's simply a Kind hearted fellow trying to peacefully live his life, and help others, but Itchy, the psychotic mouse, conspires to kill for no reason. Itchy virtually always succeeds in torturing, and killing Scratchy, only in one unseen cartoon did Scratchy bite back.
- Stimpy from The Ren & Stimpy Show is dumb and buffoonish as an inversion of Cats Are Mean and Dogs Are Dumb.
- Averted with Top Cat and his gang in general, but the ironically named Brain fits this trope to a T.
- Mr. Jinks of the Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks cartoons.
- Also Punkin' Puss from Punkin' Puss and Mushmouse.
- Louie the mountain lion from the Classic Disney Shorts and House of Mouse.
- Klondike Kat from his segment of the Underdog show is pretty buffoonish as well, though unusually he's the good guy against an Evil Mouse.
- Furrball in Tiny Toon Adventures is this sometimes. Example: a mishap with malfunctioning 3-D glasses and glue results in a What a Drag situation when he tries to remove them.
- The title character of The Amazing World of Gumball is a younger version of this trope. In most of the first season, he is very dumb, naive, and overconfident. From the second season on, he is smarter and tends more toward Cats Are Snarkers, but still very accident-prone and perfectly capable of making an ass of himself. All of this contrast with Nicole, his mom and the only other cat in the show, who is a hyper-competent badass.