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Western Animation / Life with Feathers

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"Life with Feathers" is a 1945 Looney Tunes cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng.

It is notable as the debut of Sylvester the cat—and, unlike many other Warner Brothers cartoon characters who went through significant Art Evolution and/or Early-Installment Weirdness, Sylvester was born with his look, voice (supplied by Mel Blanc, of course), and personality fully-formed, right down to his "Sufferin' succotash!" catchphrase (though he wouldn't be paired with Tweety for another two years).

In this one, a lovebird is thrown out of his cage by his angry, violent wife. Despondent over this and feeling that there is no reason for a lovebird to live without love, the lovebird decides to kill himself. He resolves to get a cat to eat him, and picks Sylvester, who is scrounging for food in an alley. Sylvester initially leaps at the chance for an easy lunch, until he hesitates, thinking that it's too easy. He decides that the lovebird must be poisoned, and refuses to eat him. Darkly comic hijinks ensue as the lovebird, who is determined to die, keeps chasing Sylvester around and insisting that the cat eat him.

"Life with Feathers" provides examples of:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Sufferin' succotash! Squab!"
  • Bait-and-Switch: The telegram the lovebird gets is at first implied to say that he and his wife have made up; it actually reads that she has left to live with her mother, and he's happy that she's gone (but when the lovebird returns home, he finds out his wife decided not to go home to her mother's).
  • Bowdlerization: On Cartoon Networknote , Boomerangnote , TNT, TBS, and The WB the part where the lovebird thinks of different ways to commit suicide (shown as crudely drawn pencil sketches of the bird shooting himself, jumping off a buildingnote , laying down on some active train tracks, and letting a cat eat him) after his wife has thrown him out is cut. While the cut isn't as obvious as other cuts, it does leave a bit of a Plot Hole of how the lovebird got the idea to get Sylvester to eat him.
  • Canis Latinicus: The lovebird calls himself a Parakeetus romanticusnote 
  • The Determinator: The lovebird won't stop until he gets eaten by Sylvester, whether or not the cat wants to.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: As usual with this trope in the series. While Sweetypuss is by no means treated as a sympathetic character, the fact she has abused and tormented her lovebird to the point of suicide (and then breaks him again just as his will is revived) is Played for Laughs.
  • The Faceless: The face of Sylvester's owner is not seen during her brief appearance.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The bird cajoles Sylvester with a radio cooking show until he's nothing but skin and bones. When Sylvester gives in:
    Sylvester: (resignedly) All right. I'll do it. I'd rather die than starve to death!
  • Get Out!: Sylvester screams this to the lovebird when he tricked him into eating him again.
  • Henpecked Husband: Running for his life as his wife flings teapots at him.
  • Here We Go Again!: The bird gets a telegram and says that everything's better now because his wife is leaving him. Sylvester has changed his mind and very much wants to eat the bird, but the bird escapes - only to learn that his wife changed her mind about leaving him (with her tone implying she lied just to get him back to keep her husband to fight with out of spite), which makes him suicidal again.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The lovebird is based on Wallace Wimple from Fibber McGee and Molly.
  • No Name Given: Sylvester is unnamed in this short. His name wouldn't be officially established until Scaredy Cat in 1948.
  • Orifice Invasion: The bird repeatedly leaps into Sylvester's mouth.
  • Oh, Crap!: The lovebird when he regains his will to live, only for Sylvester to declare he hasn't lost his appetite.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When Sylvester become suspicious as to why the lovebird wants to be eaten (thinking he's planning to poison him), the lovebird doesn't explain his reason and begs him to just eat him so he'll be put out of his misery.
  • Shout-Out: Sylvester says, "Scram, swallow! Go back to Capistrano!" A reference to the song "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano".
  • Spit Take: Sylvester was drinking some milk his owner gave him, when he suddenly spits it all out because the lovebird was in it.
  • Spurned into Suicide: The love bird elects to kill himself after his wife dumps him.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Cats eat birds, of course.
  • Suicide as Comedy: It's a bird trying to kill himself, played for laughs.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Inverted; it's more a case of Super-Persistent Prey, with the predator growing suspicious and not wanting anything to do with him.
  • Talking with Signs: At one point when the bird leaps down Sylvester's gullet, he holds up a sign saying "Don't tell me—I know."