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That Poor Cat

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"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 pain or perhaps just startled. Just like that 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.

The most used cat sound is Disc 2, Track 26 from The Hollywood Edge's "Premiere Edition Volume 1" released in 1990 labeled "Cats, Two; Angry Yowls During Cat Fight, Close Perspective" or "Angry Cat Yowls; Cat Fight".

Very much an Undead Horse Trope.

Cat might be a tragic version of Cute, but Cacophonic. May also be related to 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, and in several cases, because it's just funny to imagine how the poor kitty got hurt or startled rather than show it.

Compare with Kick the Dog, which on rare occasion overlaps. Should not be confused with That Poor Car and That Poor Plant, which are entirely different tropes. Also not to be confused with the movie That Darn Cat!, or with Cat Scare (which is when the cat is the scarer instead of the scare-ee). See also Cat Concerto, where the cat's yowling is a musical performance on the back fence.

While it should not be confused with Cat Fight, someone is sure to punctuate such a showdown with the signature yowl.


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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.
  • Back in 2013, there was a commercial for Ally Bank where a woman was trying out a robot vacuum, she turns it on and it hits the cat, leading to this stock trope.
  • A commercial for POM Wonderful (a pomegranate drink) shows a man joined by a quartet of archers when he drinks the product. After they draw their bows, the doorbell rings and one of them shoots an offscreen cat.
  • Used in a sponsorship sting for Tenderstem broccoli on Food Network UK that aired during Christmas 2022 showing a broccoli piece swinging in on stage via a giant bauble, only for the bauble to fly off and crash offscreen, triggering this trope.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon Adventure: 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 from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class has to get supplies from the adjacent storeroom, after the crashing and screaming we hear the cat... in a sealed-off, unused art room.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in one of the shorts for Haiyoru! Nyaru-Ani, Nyarlko's beat her pet Shantak and you hear a cow yelling.
  • 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.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 2 episode 21 of Happy Heroes, Big M. falls out of a high window. A cat can be heard meowing when he lands on the ground.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • In Barnyard, as Otis stages dives, he crashes onto the floor offscreen which causes a yowling cat noise.
  • In Big Hero 6, Hiro tries to excuse the antics of a low-battery Baymax by blaming them on the family cat, Mochi. When he looks down and finds Mochi at his feet, he grabs him and throws him upstairs, leading to this trope. Later, when Hiro finally arrives upstairs, Mochi looks over at Hiro and is clearly aggravated with his human for throwing him and quickly runs downstairs.
    • Earlier when Hiro is trying to follow Baymax when he leaves the house on his own, Hiro slips and falls into the side of an alley, where an offscreen cat is heard yowling.
  • 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.
  • The Boxtrolls features this among other sounds produced by a giant cheese wheel crashing through the town of Cheesebridge.
  • Happened once in The Emoji Movie when Gene almost flew into one of the cat emojis while ruining everything.
  • Free Birds: A cat screams when Governor Bradford tosses a pitchfork aside.
  • Happened once in the third Hotel Transylvania movie from the Zingr Witch's group of black cats.
  • Done three times in Inside Out: It is first done by a cat who comes out of Bing Bong's Bottomless Bag. The second one is done by Bing Bong, a character who is part cat, when a set falls on him at Dream Productions. The final one is the last thing we hear during the movie, as during the Creative Closing Credits we see the emotions of an actual cat, and it yowls in terror and runs away when its Fear starts randomly fiddling with the emotion controls.
  • 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.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part used this towards the end of the film during the final battle when Unikitty uses a glitter hairball missle.
  • Luca used this trope two times. The first one was done was when Machiavelli attacks Luca, and when a cat gets jumped by Luca and Alberto who were riding a bike.
  • Monsters University: When Sully tosses Mike's textbook out the window, there is the shriek of a cat from outside.
  • Used one time in PAW Patrol: The Movie when the Kitten Catastrophe Crew kittens almost get sucked in by the Cloud Catcher while getting tested out.
  • In Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe, Vanessa throws an electric guitar offscreen which causes a yowling cat noise.
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: When the pirates were parking their ship with a crash, there was a cat screeching.
  • In Rio, a poor cat was heard during the scene when Jewel is flying through the rooftops chained to Blu.
  • Rise of the Guardians: A poor cat that lives in a building Jack and Sandy crash through while chasing Nightmares.
  • This happens at least once during any scene involving cats in The Secret Life of Pets.
  • Shrek: Puss In Boots, being a cat, often has 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. Also, while Puss talks to a cat, we hear other kinds of yowls and screeches from other cats that were heard offscreen.
    • Shrek Forever After: Done 4 times in this fourth film. The first one was when a cat got startled by Shrek's roar during the song "Top of the World". The second one was when Donkey comes up to Shrek, but then startled Puss-in-Boots. The third one was when Donkey pulls Puss away from the ogres falling. The last one was when Puss swings over Dragoness' tail and flies towards the camera during the final battle.
    • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish uses a variant with a cutaway rather than the event being offscreen. In Puss' Death Montage early in the movie, two of his deaths (the second one where he gets mauled by dogs whom he cheated in a poker game, and the fourth one where he gets crushed by a barbell after insisting that he doesn't need a spotter) have the scene cut away before the actual killing is shown, with the stock cat yowl associated with this trope being heard when the associated number card is displayed.
  • Soul used this trope for Mr. Mittens.
  • 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 it's 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!"
    • Toy Story 4 has an evil cat named Dragon who lives at the Second Chance Antiques and likes to destroy toys.
  • Turning Red includes a rare onscreen use of this trope: in one scene, two cats are sleeping by the door of the Lee family temple when they're startled by footsteps approaching from the outside. Both cats snap awake and race for safety across the temple courtyard, making a standard "scared cat" yowl as they go. (Why they would consider the approaching footsteps to be terrifying is another matter.)

    Film — Live Action 
  • King Of Comedy. One of Scorsese's many classics includes a cat going "REOWWR!!!" when Sandra Bernhardt tells Jerry Lewis that the two of them are going to have some "Good, old-fashioned, American, fun!". She swipes the kitchen table clear so they might have room to 'do the do', and a cat becomes the unlucky recipient of some chinaware before she delivers her iconic line. - Bonus points: This scene is mimicked in an episode of Family Guy.
  • The Man with Two Brains. "Get that cat outta here!" "REOWWR!"
  • 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."
  • In the action film The Bodyguard From Beijing, the Damsel in Distress, oblivious that she is being targeted for death, tries taking her bath, unknowing that hitmen had turned her tub into an Electrified Bathtub. But her cat jumps in before her.
  • 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.
    • In the third movie, we heard a cat screeching offscreen during the scene where the Chipmunks and the Chipettes were fighting over one mango on an island. What's that? Why's there a cat on an island? Well, why not?
  • 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 Jerry Nelson, Pew's performer, 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.
  • Another dog example is shown in the Hong Kong film, A Taste of Killing and Romance. When Cheung, a Professional Killer on a mission to Leave No Witnesses slaughters a target's entire family, the last survivor of the massacre is their pet Pomeranian… which he shoves into a washing machine with the spin cycle turned on.
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), 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 Cité 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 Nostalgia Chick in an angry tone: "This is a kid's movie, right?"
  • 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.
  • As pointed out in Lloyd Kaufman's book Make Your Own Damn Movie, the cat screech is one of the three staple sound effects used in nearly every Troma film (the other two being a fart sound and a cowbell). He specifically advises that the cat sound be used whenever a character throws something and it lands offscreen, implying that the thrown object somehow managed to hit a cat even if no cats are present.
  • In the live action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! one of the things sucked up by the Grinch's large vacuum tube is a large cat, which the vacuum then blows out into his face. A few scenes later the cat reappears, this time jumping onto the Grinch himself.
  • One scene in the first Police Academy has a cat stuck in a tree. Unfortunately, the responding officer is Tackleberry who gets the cat out of the tree by shooting it.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, after the Knight Bus drops Harry off at the Leaky Cauldron, it races around the corner and disappears. Just as it vanishes, the distinctive loud wail of this cat is heard.
  • In Captain Marvel (2019), Goose (actually a flerken) utters this all-too common noise when Fury annoys her by playing with her too much and she scratches his left eye as a result.
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil used this when Ingrith’s cat attacks Diaval.
  • In Itsy Bitsy, a stray cat is one of the early victims of the spider, with the stereotypical yowl being used as the cat is jumped.

  • 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 
  • In an episode of ALF the title character is using the family's cat, Lucky, as a stepladder. When Willie tells him to get down, he lets go of the windowsill, making Lucky shriek.
  • Used at least once in Babylon 5, when G'Kar tries out Marcus' Minbari Fighting Pike. He accidentally opens it, one end smashing into a pile of garbage, complete with the sound of a shrieking cat. J. Michael Straczynski admitted he put in the cat noise because cats are hilarious like that.
  • This sound effect was one of the Running Gags in Big Time Rush.
  • Variant in the first episode of The Brady Bunch where Tiger was chasing the Brady Girls' cat Fluffy during the wedding which causes a big mess.
  • A moment of silence now for Miss Kitty Fantastico, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We don't see its demise, but it's easy to imagine it made this sound, and, when its fate is mentioned, it's played just a bit humorously.
  • On one episode of Castle, Beckett's team and a SWAT team break down an apartment door, thinking there's a terrorist named S. Nadal Matar on the other side of it. One of the apartment's owner's cats goes diving off the top of a nearby refrigerator and lets off the screech.
  • Used several times in Le cœur a ses raisons. Even if there is no cat in the series outside of a single flashback.
  • In Community's zombie outbreak homage episode "Epidemiology", the noise effect is used more and more until the (already very high strung) characters start taking issue with it.
    Jeff: What is up with that cat?
    Troy: Is someone throwing it?
  • Doctor Who: In "The Eleventh Hour", the newly-regenerated Doctor takes a single bite of bread and butter, then emphatically rejects the meal by Frisbee flinging the entire plate, bread and all, out of the front door, cuing off-screen shattering sounds and a cat yowling in protest.
    The Doctor: AND STAY OUT!
  • In The Drew Carey Show, Lewis and Oswald's attempt to teach a baby how to operate a crossbow goes horribly wrong:
    Oswald: Whose cat was that?
    Lewis: Well, it's God's cat now.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder used it quite a number of times, sometimes more than once in the same episode. Vicky takes issue with it at the beginning of "Fairies Away! Part 1"
    Vicky: Shut up, cat!
  • The Frantics used it to great effect in the "Last Will and Temperament"-sketch.
    And to my cat Mittens, I leave my entire, vast... (Beat) boot to the head. MEEEOOOW!
  • In one episode of The Goes Wrong Show, a player piano won't stop playing even after one of the actors rips out some of the electronics, so they start shoving some of the white cushions from the rest of the set (which are shredded into feather clouds). And then Robert accidentally puts in the white cat that had been present in an earlier scene, forcing everyone to freeze in horror. However, the cat is still alive (periodically yowling whenever someone touches the piano) and ultimately proves to be unhurt. But it is also extremely angry, and when it finally bursts out of the piano at the end, poor Annie's face is in the way.
  • Heard in Hardware (2003) after Anne throws her ironing board out the flat window in frustration.
  • In an episode of Highlander, Duncan loses patience with an exceptionally irritating intruder and throws him out a side-door into an alley. Listen carefully and you can hear an unhappy cat complaining.
  • Parodied in a Halloween episode of Home Improvement where a cat's meow can be heard amongst various spooky sound effects. We then hear Jill's voice telling Tim to leave the cat alone.
  • In Kids Say the Darndest Things the cat screech was edited in Once an Episode whenever a kid made a violent or loud movement, or exceptionally loud sound bit.
  • In the second season of Lazy Company, Niels kills the camp cat and uses it to raise the dead (It Makes Sense in Context). Cue an incredibly awkward scene in which Niels alternates between fighting the cat off him and banging its head on the table, all of which is mostly off-screen.
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Al is participating in a decathlon for senior citizens. Every time he participates in a throwing event, his toss is followed shortly by That Poor Cat.
  • Sort of related: In a recent episode of Meet the Browns, the father and son try to retrieve a Cockatoo for their neighbor. They throw something at the bird. It then shows their horrified expressions as well as the cockatoo making screeching sounds.
  • That Poor Cat is used slightly differently in Monty Python's Flying Circus. During an episode where they'd been blowing up animals the entire show, the camera follows two people and you can hear meowing offscreen. Just to make it clear, an arrow points to the edge of the screen, saying "cat." You can guess what came next.
    • They also do it with pigs in one episode, along with a hand crossing cartoon pigs off a blackboard.
    • Heard second-hand as Mrs. Premise tells Mrs. Conclusion about the trouble she had burying the cat - "Well, 'e wouldn't keep still. Wrigglin' about, 'owlin'..."
    • The uninvited guests to a couple's flat has one guest (John Cleese) sitting on the sofa followed by an ungodly yowl. He sat on the cat.
  • Every single time something crashes in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, whether it's a scooter or a pencil someone threw, to the point of being a Running Gag.
  • The second episode of New Girl sees Jess go to get her stuff back from her douche ex-boyfriend. After she gets angry, she goes inside to grab all of her stuff at once, and you hear that poor cat.
  • The One Foot in the Grave episode "Timeless Time" features this, when Victor throws a dead hedgehog which had gotten stuck on his foot out of his bedroom window (though the presence of the cat had previously been established, setting off Victor's car alarm by sitting on the car bonnet).
  • In an episode of Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod is caught in a graveyard with a shovel. He quickly tosses it off-camera, only to look at it in bewilderment when it apparently hits a cat.
  • Practically the kickoff trope in SeaChange. Laura almost killing her cat while getting out of bed in a hurry is the start of a long and horrific day.
  • Heard frequently on the children's show Sir Gadabout, as it is used in the conclusion of the theme song, and every time Gadders falls over.
  • Variation in the first episode of Sonny with a Chance, where two stuffed toy cats wind up getting crammed into Tawni's fanmail shredder. The toy cats inexplicably unleash tortured yowls as they become flying fluff.
  • Sugar Rush has this in episode 7 when Kim gets rid of her toothbrush by throwing it out of the window. That Poor Cat indeed!
  • In The Suite Life on Deck's third season episode The Silent Treatment, Emma's cat attacked London.
  • In a Two and a Half Men episode, Charlie is trying to drive Jake somewhere (refusing to let Jake drive), when they hear a cat screech, presumably from Charlie running it over. Jake has blackmail material when Charlie believes that he accidentally ran over Chelsea's cat, only to lose it when Chelsea's cat returns, only for Jake to get the blackmail material back by chance when one of his neighbors arrive to inquire about their missing cat that just so happens to resemble Chelsea's cat.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess uses this several times, most notably when Autolycus is rummaging around in his sleeve.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's 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.


    Print Media 
  • 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.

    Puppet Shows 
  • 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 "Grandma Flutter's 100th Birthday" from Bear in the Big Blue House, Doc Hogg has a flashback of attending the musical Ain't Mousebehavin' and how the star B.B. Squeaksworth tripped and fell into the orchestra pit in the first act, complete with this sound effect. She got a twisted ankle and had to leave, so Grandma Flutter got her part.

  • 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 I'm Sorry I Haven't 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."

  • 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.
  • The musical version of The Producers has one of these - in the number "You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night" Bialystock takes a cat and swings it by its tail out of sight. Obviously, the scene is Played for Laughs (and Mel Brooks's voice is used for the cat's offstage yowl).
  • The Broadway cast recording of Hairspray features one on the bonus track at the end of the album - the cast sings a ditty urging their teen audience to avoid drunk driving, and the final note causes an unseen cat to yowl with displeasure.

    Video Games 
  • The cat in the locker in Silent Hill, which gets squashed or mauled by something after leaving the room. Not Played for Laughs. It gets a bit of a call back in the Otherworld version of the school, where the same locker is heard banging again, but the results are much different.
  • 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 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.
  • A small but probably well remembered FMV-based game, Hot Wheels: Stunt Track Driver, has you crash your (toy sized) car into the TV at the end of the living room level but it has the Stock Sound Effect of any car crash, including this trope. The same sound is used earlier on in the level when you buzz right past the cat's tail as well.
  • 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 Tales of Monkey Island, a cat scream is heard when Guybrush accidentally causes a bar brawl in Club 41 (which you only see the outside of during the scene). Becomes a Brick Joke as halfway into the game the injuries to that cat are one of the crimes he's charged with during a kangaroo trial.
  • 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 cause this.
  • In the 'deleted scene' for World of Warcraft video for Mists Of Pandaria, the human tosses an empty mug over his shoulder, generating this trope.
  • In Roger Wilco's trial at the start of Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, he somehow causes a series of accidents on the way to the front of the room, including a feline yowl.
  • In the opening of Wario Land 4 a black cat crossing the street is nearly run over by Wario's car as he drives in a hurry to the Golden Temple. At the end of the game a white cat is nearly run over in the same way as Wario drives out to get All-you-can-eat steaks for $10.00
  • One puzzle in Research & Development involves a laser beam being redirected through a bunch of mirrors towards its target. Due to one of said mirrors being misaligned, it ends up blasting a cat that's stuck in a nearby vent. No, you can't preemptively rotate that mirror.
  • Inverted in Feed the Cat, where the cats say, "Reoowww!" as they fall happily offscreen when they get fed.
  • The enhanced edition of Grand Theft Auto V adds domestic cats and random street cats as part of the many fauna wandering around San Andreas. If you're heartless enough to kill the poor things, they'll utter this sound.
  • Call of Duty 4. A cat is briefly heard in the mission Charlie Don't Surf.

    Web Animation 
  • Avatar: The Abridged Series: On top of causing massive property damages, the Gaang apparently hits a cat at the end of their mail chute ride in Omashu.
  • Hazbin Hotel: In the pilot, when Charlie has outlined her idealistic plan on TV, the camerademon calls her a stupid bitch, whereupon Vaggie punches him offscreen, followed by stuff breaking noises and "mew."
  • Helluva Boss
    • In season 2 episode 1, the demons travel to Los Angeles, where Moxxie gets caught up buying everything possible from people selling their "art" on the street. When he and Millie are returning, one more human shows up to sell him a demo CD, which he's about to buy. But Millie has had enough of it, so she kills the man and throws the CD offscreen, where it apparently hits a cat.
    • In season 1 episode 8, Beelzebub throws away a bottle she drank from, and it sounds like it hits a dog as well as breaking. Which makes sense since they're in a hellhound party.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: The first time Yami uses his Duel disk he seems to hit a cat.

  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • I Am Not Infected: During their journey to Compton, Hartley sees a cat (which remains off 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.
  • RedLetterMedia'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"
  • Noted upon in this Cracked article written by Seanbaby.
    "Did you know? Every off-camera crashing sound in the history of comedy television has been accompanied by the sound of an angry dying cat! We hearing people love it!"
  • In the third Twilight Bad Lip Reading, Jacob is so angry that he lost at "Word Game" that he throws something off-screen and hits the cat. Jacob is immediately upset about this "I bonked mah kitteh!"

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Amazing World of Gumball this literally happens to Gumball (a cat) when he starts chasing a laser pointer and the scene cuts away with him still going around, breaking things in the background while a cat's hissing can be heard (which he usually doesn't make).
  • Arthur
    • In "Arthur Babysits" Tommy and Timmy sic their grandmother's cat onto Arthur's face once they notice she has left.
    • In "Arthur's Pet Business" Arthur is chasing a loose bird around the living room and inadvertently steps on the tail of a sleeping cat, briefly sending it air born in pain before it continues napping.
  • Happens in four episodes of Angry Birds Toons.
  • The Backyardigans: Happens in the double-length episode "International Secret Super Spy" when The Lady in Pink's secret headquarter lights end up dying from The Lady Pink pushing on the tickle table button several times. The Lady to Pink orders Henchman Tyrone to activate the emergency lights. While doing so, Henchman Tyrone crashes off-screen and we hear the screeching cat noise.
    • It also happens in "Catch That Train!" when Czar Tyrone's train ends up in a tunnel while Uniqua and Pablo go off after it. We hear a cat screeching, along with a chicken clucking, a telephone ringing, and a weird talking device.
  • This becomes a Running Gag in Barbie in A Christmas Carol.
  • Clone High substitutes dolphin noises.
  • In an episode of The Critic, President Clinton at one point falls through the floor of the Oval Office, a cat yowls in the room beneath and the president says, "Sorry, Socks".
  • In Drawn Together, whenever someone or something falls or is thrown offscreen, a cat is heard yowling, despite no cat ever being shown on-camera or even mentioned on the series. The characters make no mention of this.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode Hooray for Hollywood Planet, Dodgers is swirling nun-chucks, until they slip out of his hands and crash off-screen with the stock crash and cat screech.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy would use sound effects like a cat screeching or an elephant toot when someone gets injured and falls to the ground.
  • There was a screeching cat noise offscreen in two Elena of Avalor episodes "Sweetheart's Day" and "Dia de Las Madres".
  • In Firebuds episode "Carkour," Piston crashes onto the lower driveway and a screeching cat can be heard from the crash. Piston calls out that he, and of course, the cat, is okay.
  • If a character throws something off-screen in Futurama, it is guaranteed to hit Zoidberg.
  • Inverted in the first episode of Gargoyles. Hakon throws a bone with a bit of meat on it off screen. We then hear a dog barking happily. That Lucky Dog!
  • Hey Arnold! loves this trope, especially considering the cast lives in a working-class neighborhood.
  • In the Invader Zim episode "Walk of Doom" Zim and Gir startle a dog—and the traditional cat yowl sound is heard.
    • In "Future Dib", when Dib is running, he bumps into some garbage cans, which startles a cat and it runs offscreen.
    • Inverted in "Gaz, Taster of Pork" in which a car crashes offscreen and an elephant trumpeting is heard instead.
  • A Running Gag on Kaeloo is to have this happen, and then for it to be revealed that it was Mr. Cat who got crashed into.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil gives us too many to count, it's practically in every episode. It appears to be the writer's favorite gag.
    • One that's sort of off-screen appears in "Hand in Hand" when Kick picks up a cat and flings it over a house over to the street on the other side only to land in Ronaldo's face. We don't really see much of it as the houses are in the way, but Ronaldo makes it very clear that this is what is happening.
    Ronaldo: Ah! CAT ON MY FACE!
  • Played with in King of the Hill: During a neighborhood rampage by Dale, who has acquired a suit of medieval armor and now sees himself as invincible, we actually see the cat sitting on a trash can before it cuts away and we hear the standard yowl.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series used this in the final episode "Link" where Stitch throws a chainsaw off screen and causes a yowling cat noise, even though he and Nani are the only ones in the house.
  • Little Bear: Cat had this in earlier episodes.
  • The Loud House has Cliff, the family cat, who is always caught in the crossfire of the kids' antics even on-screen.
  • In the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode "Daisy's Dance", Donald tries to dance, but then falls and crashes off-screen which causes a yowling cat noise, even though he, Mickey, Minnie and Daisy were the only ones in the Clubhouse.
  • Mira, Royal Detective used this once in the first episode "The Case of the Royal Scarf", in the scene where Prince Neel takes Mira for a ride in his new invention called a "Fly-Cycle". When they land, they crashed offscreen followed by the screeching cat noise.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Heard in "Bridle Gossip" when Rainbow Dash tumbled through some bushes in the Everfree Forest. What's that? Why's there a cat in the Everfree Forest? Well, why not?
    • Later appears in season one finale episode "The Best Night Ever" when Rarity's cat Opal was almost about to go after mice who got turned into horses.
    • Also appears in part two of the season two premiere, during a Big Ball of Violence. No cat was seen before the dust kicked up, and none was seen after.
    • An interesting example is heard earlier on in "Sweet and Elite". Rarity is packing up to head back to Ponyville from Canterlot, when she gets a letter asking her to come to a garden party at that day. She changes her mind. Turning to the bagpony that has all her things (and I mean ALL her things), and her cat, Opal, in her cat crate, piled onto his back, she tells him that she won't be leaving, but will be needing help to re-unpacking them. The poor guy then subsequently collapses, and we hear what is assumed to be Opal yowling as all the luggage comes crashing down. We never see Opal during the collapse, but she was the only cat in that pile.
    • In "Spike At Your Service", Spike kicks a mushroom that hits a cat off-screen.
    • In "Just for Sidekicks", when Spike grabs Opal, she screeches and attacks him while trying to get all the pets together.
    • Also happened in "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" when a tired Rarity accidentally stabbed her cat Opal while trying to brush her fur which caused her to screech.
    • In "Dragon Dropped", Rarity throws a record player that hits a cat off-screen.
  • Similarly, The Penguins of Madagascar have a guy off screen shouting "My car!" at some point pretty much whenever the penguins leave the zoo.
    • There's a similar running gag in Making Fiends with Marvin who always yells "My ___!" Once it was "My pencil!"
  • Pops up in an episode of Phineas and Ferb when Doofenshmirtz throws a bear trap offscreen, and in another episode where a glass of lemonade is kicked offscreen. It also appears in "Der Kinderlumper" when Linda leaves the vacuum cleaner on and it crashes, which is weird since the Flynn-Fletchers do not even have a cat. Also in "Mission Marvel", when the immobile Iron Man falls on the floor.
  • Hissy the cat from Puppy Dog Pals uses this sometimes.
    • Even other cats beside Hissy use this too, such as (so far) "Adopt-a-Palooza", "How ARF Got His Bark Back", "The Naptime Chronicles" and "Bingo and Rolly's Playcare Picnic Party".
    • In "A.R.F." when A.R.F. was chasing Hissy all over the house.
    • In "Hissy's Big Day" when a mob of dogs (led by Cupcake and Rufus) were chasing Hissy all over the Dog Park.
    • In "A Seat at the Theatre" when the fanfare trumpets wake Hissy up.
    • At the end of "Bob's Birthday Wish" when the Opera Singer accidentally wakes Hissy up while singing Happy Birthday to Bob at his surprise Birthday Party.
    • In "The Lab Four", when Bingo and Rolly accidentally wake Hissy up with their noisy one band instruments.
    • "Squirrels Just Wanna Have Fun" and "How ARF Got His Bark Back" were the ones so far that used this trope during their songs.
  • In one episode of Quack Pack there's a poor cat in a garbage chute.
  • Rugrats: Angelica's pet cat Fluffy was put through this a lot.
    • Happened once in one of the episodes of All Grown Up!! "Lucky 13" when Angelica accidentally grabs Fluffy's tail while crying.
  • Rocket Power played this straight in the episode "Happy Luau to You-au," when confronting the accordion band, Tito takes one of the member's accordions and tosses it out a window, to which we hear it crash off-screen followed by a cat yowling.
  • A Running Gag in Rocko's Modern Life is offscreen animal noises being a sheep bleating, or any other animal but a cat.
  • Used many times in Sonic Boom.
  • Spongebob Squarepants has a similar Running Gag, with some random injured guy shouting "My leg!" instead of a yowling cat.
    • Made more funny if one thinks about it, as fish have no legs. In The Movie it was "My eyes!" as a Running Gag.
    • There really was a poor cat sound effect which was heard two times in the first season episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II". Also after The Movie, Gary and other snails now have this trope invoked on them.
    • Gary does it in "Rise and Shine" when Patrick trips on a lamp and falls down the stairs.
  • In theSteven Universe episode "Know Your Fusion", Sardonyx throws a microphone off screen and causes a yowling cat noise, even though she and Smoky Quartz are the only ones in Sardonyx's room.
  • Stickin' Around occasionally uses this whenever there is a cat or when a cat just so happens to be in the situation.
  • During the Crossover episode "World's Finest" of Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series, Lex Luthor and the Joker discuss how they're going to deal with their respective nemeses. Meanwhile, Harley and Mercy get into a Cat Fight and at one point a cat yelp is heard.
  • Done in 2 episodes of Trolls: The Beat Goes On!.
  • In the Veggietales in The House episode, "Larry Gets a Bulldozer", Larry uses his bulldozer to push trash off the coffee table. After they fall we hear crashing and a screeching cat noise. Prehaps it must have been Mrs Fluffy Face.
  • One short of Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Contraptions had a horse sound effect.
  • In the end of the Johnny Test episode, "Johnny's Extreme Game Controller", Johnny and Dukey break into an elephant exhibit at a zoo with their scooter. When they crash offscreen into an elephant's backside, we hear an elephant trumpeting and a fart noise.

    Real Life 
  • In his annotated Gilbert and Sullivan treasury, Martyn Green recounted an incident in a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore, where a young theater cat came onstage chasing something, "probably its own shadow", when the chorus was singing "Carefully on Tiptoe Stealing". A Scare Chord made the cat jump. When the cat landed it arched its back and glared at the audience, hissing and spitting. "The [theater] Company gallantly tried to carry on, but" the next lines were:
    Chorus: Goodness me, why what was that?
    Dick Deadeye: Silent be, it was the cat.


Video Example(s):


See? I'm Bilingual Too!

Blu uses this to his advantage by barking like a dog to a nearby cat while he and Jewel are being chased to attack their pursuers Armando and Tipa, Marcel's henchmen.

How well does it match the trope?

3.78 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThatPoorCat

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