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Western Animation / Nature Cat

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"Onward and yonward!"note 

Nature Cat is an American animated kids' Edutainment Show that runs on PBS Kids as of November 25, 2015. The show is a co-production of Spiffy Pictures, 9 Story Media Group, and WTTW Chicago, the latter of which serves as the show's presenting station. It follows the escapades of Fred the house cat, who, when his family leaves for the day, becomes an adventurer named Nature Cat who is always ready to explore the natural world around him. That is, if he knew the first thing about exploring nature, which winds up getting him into all sorts of situations. Accompanying him are a multitude of other animal friends, including the energetic but dimwitted Hal the dog, the sassy though kind Squeeks the mouse, and the knowledgeable rabbit Daisy. Each episode focuses on a single aspect of life or earth science, with a running plot to go alongside it.


The show is notable for its All-Star Cast and abundant pop-culture references. In 2016, the show was one of PBS' top shows, as I had reached 10.3 million kids ages two to 11 on television, and the brand averaged 13.5 million streams per month across all PBS KIDS digital platforms. It was renewed for a second and third season, with the second premiering in 2018 and the third in 2019. Now with the show creators moving on to Donkey Hodie, and the show not premiering any episodes since May 2020, the show has come to an end.

Now with a Character Sheet which could use some love.


Onward and Tropeward!:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Nature Cat pulls one off himself in "Goin' Batty". He makes several mistakes along the way (including getting bitten by mosquitoes and touching poison ivy), eventually coming to the conclusion that he isn't fit to be Nature Cat anymore and should just stick to being a house cat. He's ultimately convinced to go back to his old self when he rests a while and discovers he does have good instincts.
  • Ace Pilot: In "No Bird Left Behind", Nature Cat is shown to be an excellent pilot. He even refers to himself as an ace pilot.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Nature Cat runs across one in "Travelin' Seeds". At least he thinks he does, but he turns out to be completely harmless and only scratches his head after Nature Cat frantically scrambles for his life.
  • Agony of the Feet: Ronald gets a disco ball dropped on his foot in "Winter Dance Party."
  • Animal Talk: No, duh! Although only some of the extras can talk and which ones can seems to depend on whether it's convenient. This becomes confusing when one episode is dedicated to animal communication: When Hal "discovers" that different species can communicate, it's treated like a huge discovery despite the fact that the main characters are different species who regularly communicate.
  • Arch-Enemy: Nature Cat's neighbor, Ronald, is the series' main antagonist.
  • Argument of Contradictions: In "Ice is Nice," Nature Cat and Ronald have one of these about whether the real tragedy is Nature Cat's bug mug being broken or Ronald's hug mug, and later over which if them will investigate who or what broke them.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In one episode, Nature Cat and Ronald pour themselves some hot cocoa, which Hal eagerly licks once it's frozen. Cats can't taste sweet things so the beverage wouldn't interest them in real life and besides that, it would make them sick and would possibly kill Hal.
  • Bat Out of Hell: In "Wild Batts", Nature Cat, Hal, and Ronald all think bats are scary. However, they do end up making friends with Chris and Martin Batt.
  • Big Bad: Ronald. He also serves as both an Arch-Nemesis and The Rival throughout the show.
  • Big Fancy House: Ronald's Cat Cave, which he unveils to the main characters in "Wild Batts!".
  • Big "NO!": Hal screams "NOOOOOOOO!!!" in the season 2 premiere after he finds out that Nature Cat, Daisy, and Squeeks frolicked with butterflies without him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sir Galahad in "Heartthrob Hamster", who utilizes his cuteness and romantic behavior to luring the gang into releasing him from his cage when they were instructed not to.
  • Bookworm: More like smartphoneworm; Daisy often consults her phone to read up more detailed information about the episode's topic and is usually the most knowledgeable one.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: In "Cold-Blooded", Hal says "Onward and yonward!"
    • Daisy and Granny Bunny use a few of Hal's catchphrases in the first few episodes of Season 3. Hal even calls them on it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In Water Woes, Nature Cat, once again, calls Hal a genius and kisses him, and Hal remarks that it's the first time he's called him a genius this season.
    • In "Wild Batts", Daisy remarks that Chris and Martin seem very familiar, lampshading that they're technically from another show.
    • In "No Bird Left Behind", Nature Cat calls Hal a genius yet again and kisses him. Hal then has this to say:
    Hal: Okay, that’s clearly been established in earlier episodes. The fans know this, guys. I’m a genius. Come on.
    • In "A Nature Carol", the narrator remarks that this is a Christmas episode.
  • Broken Record: Brooks in "No Bird Left Behind", where he says "Ow!" over and over when he hurts his wing.
  • But Now I Must Go: Brooks the Baltimore oriole in "No Bird Left Behind", where he has to leave the gang to stay in Honduras for the winter. Hal is very saddened by this, but Brooks assures him that he will come back in spring.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Nature Cat himself has two: "Tally ho!" and "Onward and yonward!"
    • In addition to his Mad Libs Catch Phrase, Hal also has "Me too too, also!"
    • Daisy: "Man, oh man!"
    • At the end of "Wild Batts", Chris and Martin say variations of their Signing Off Catchphrase from Wild Kratts. They say "Keep on nature adventuring!" and "We'll see you on the nature trail!".
  • Cats Are Mean: Completely averted with Nature Cat himself, but played straight with Ronald.
  • Cats Hate Water: This is one of Nature Cat's defining traits, and a recurring fear. He avoids water at all costs and panics whenever he gets splashed, though occasionally builds up enough strength to ride in boats. Is brought to a head in "Tide Pool Tough", where the entire plot is his determination to get over his fear of water in order to try surfing.
  • Christmas Episode: "A Nature Carol", a Made-for-TV Movie telling Yet Another Christmas Carol.
  • Clark Kenting: When at home, Nature Cat is simply "Fred the house cat." However, this is only ever shown directly in the theme song; other than the 10-Minute Retirement in "Goin' Batty", it's never brought up in the show proper, even when the characters are out in the city or going shopping.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In "Wild Batts", Martin Batt has blue eyes, while Chris Batt has green eyes, in true Kratt brothers fashion.
  • Crossover: Had one with Wild Kratts "Wild Batts", where Chris and Martin Kratt show up as Chris and Martin Batt, two wild bat brothers whose tree home is destroyed, forcing them to find a new shelter.
  • Cute Kitten: Nature Cat's flashback after he loses his favorite hat.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Hal, all the time. It's even part of one of his Catch Phrases!
  • The Ditz: Hal is the most dimwitted of the main characters.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Hal, again.
  • Don't Try This at Home: On PBS airings, every episode ends with a disclaimer that "Nature Cat and his friends are cartoon characters and not real animals," and warns children of the dangers of bringing pets on a nature trip of their own. Justified, given the show's target demographic.
    • "Animal Rescue Crew" has one before the episode about getting a nature expert if you find a hurt animal in nature.
  • Episode Title Card: Complete with a character from the show reading the title out loud.
  • Expository Theme Tune: We're climbin' up the trees now! We're swingin' through the breeze now! We're gettin' muddy knees now! With Nature Cat (Nature Cat, Nature Cat, Nature Cat...Nature Cat, Nature Cat, Nature Caaaaat)!
  • Expy: Nature Dog in the "Ocean Commotion" episode. She's Nature Cat's female, canine, Russian counterpart. One amusing fact is that while Nature Cat's voiced by Taran Killam, Nature Dog's voiced by his wife, Cobie Smulders.
  • Failed a Spot Check: "Hal's Day Off" begins with Hal catching a toy and landing in the back of a truck, and completely failing to realize that he's riding in it at all even after he starts to move.
  • Fake Band: The show includes regular appearances by Dog Gone, an all-canine band fronted by the voice of Real Life Tony award winner Lena Hall.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All the animals have four fingers, but the humans (who are seen from the neck down) have five.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Nature Cat, obviously. His three friends only wear clothes if the plot asks for it.
  • Furry Reminder: Occasionally happens; Nature Cat has quite a few moments of notice where he shifts back into a more feral mentality, particularly with his fur fluffing when he panics and, of course, water.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When the group meet turkey vultures, Daisy describes what "carrion" is and the vultures are shown pecking at something stinky, but the actual carcass is fully concealed by fallen leaves.
  • Green Aesop: It's a show about nature, of course it's going to happen once in a while. Particularly noteworthy in "Earth Day Today/Earth Day Every Day".
  • Hard-Work Montage: Utilized in "Wild Batts", when the gang is building a bat house for Chris and Martin.
  • Harmless Villain: Ronald is definitely this, for obvious reasons given the show's target demographic. He's more of a nuisance than a real villain, a bit of a selfish egotistical jerk.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Nature Cat and Hal are large, and Daisy and Squeeks are tiny in comparison to them.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: In "Winter Dance Party", after getting a disco ball dropped on his foot, Ronald hops up and down clutching it, but has no problem chasing after the ball with the rest of the gang afterwards.
  • I Am Not Weasel: In "Wild Batts", Nature Cat mistakes a pair of bats for birds, but Daisy corrects him.
  • Iconic Outfit: Nature Cat wears an outfit that is very reminiscent to that of Robin Hood's.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "They aren't just bats, they're acroBATS!"
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Happens towards the end of "Heartthrob Hamster".
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In "The Wild Batts", the Batt Brothers' faces are designed after their voice actors, the Kratt Brothers.
  • Interspecies Romance: Admittedly between two rodents, but between Squeeks (a mouse) and Sir Galahad (a hamster) in "Heartthrob Hamster". It technically only goes one way though.
  • Large Ham: Nature Cat is known to speak very melodramatically.
  • Long-Lost Relative: "The Return of Bad Dog Bart reveals that Nature Cat had a sister called Gwendolyn. However, when Bad Dog Bart stole their cat toys, Gwendolyn went off to retrieve them, and was never seen since. They do reunite in the special, however.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: "Heartthob Hamster" again, Squeeks would say Sir Galahad didn't _____ as a Running Gag, only for Daisy to show her a counter-video that disproves her point, and shows that Squeeks' love of Sir Galahad is making her blind.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Hal's is "Hi, ____, it's me, Hal!"
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Daisy's grandmother Granny Bunny, who is the same height as her granddaughter.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The explorers encounter an eyeless salamander during their cave adventure. Although there are some cave-dwelling salamanders in Illinois, where the series is set, the nearest eyeless species lives in Texas.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: While the show is set in the Chicagoland, the characters have visited the mountains in a few episodes.
  • The Movie:
    • The show had one in the form of Nature Cat: Ocean Commotion, which premiered in June of 2017. Nature Cat and his pals go on an aquatic adventure to save Hal's favorite chew toy. Along the way, they learn that all waterways are interconnected and meet up with a new special friend named Nature Dog who helps them navigate the oceans.
    • The show's second one is called "The Return of Bad Dog Bart". Hal unearths a map which leads to Bad Dog Bart's stolen loot of cat toys. This triggers sad memories of Nature Cat's, where Bad Dog Bart stole his and his sister Gwendolyn's cat toys. Gwendolyn went after the toys, but was never seen again. Mustering all the courage he can, he joins Hal, Daisy, Squeeks, and even Houston to be the first to find the cat toys. Along the way, they encounter a Pirate Girl named One-Eared Winnie, who is also trying to look for the treasure. One-Eared Winnie turns out to be Gwendolyn.
    • "A Nature Carol", the Christmas special for the show, which also serves as Yet Another Christmas Carol.
  • My Nayme Is: Squeeks, not Squeaks.
  • Nature Lover: Really? Who would have guessed?
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Michael Bluejay. Brooks the Baltimore Oriole was named after baseball player Brooks Robinson, who played for the Baltimore Orioles.
  • No Ending: The ending to "No Bird Left Behind", in which the gang's plane breaks down and they get stranded. The episode ends with Daisy calling Houston for help.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!:
    • In "No Bird Left Behind", Nature Cat says this word-for-word, but then trouble arises when it starts raining.
    • In fact, something bad happens every single time the title character says this phrase. It was even pointed out in some episodes.
  • Only Sane Man: Squeeks typically serves as the voice of reason. Daisy can also be this as well.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The gang wears one to the neighborhood market in "For the Birdies". Interestingly, they don't do the same in the episode it's paired with before it ("Where Have all the Butterflies Gone?").
  • Parental Bonus: When attempting to camouflage in "Nature Cat and Mr. Hide", Hal initially attempts it a few times by saying "camo-[word]!", before eventually striking a pose with female-like hair and saying "Cameron Diaz!" and getting applauded for it. This is a Shout-Out that's fairly likely to go over most of the target audience's heads.
  • Pirate Girl: In "The Return of Bad Dog Bart", it is revealed that Gwendolyn, Nature Cat's long lost sister, became a pirate under the name of One-Eared Winnie in order to look for their stolen cat toys.
  • Product Placement:
    • Parodied in a similar manner to Sesame Street at the end of each episode during PBS airings; a narrator says that the episode was "brought to you by X! Yes, X!", with "X" being a random natural object (sticks, worms, dirt, etc.) with some live action footage of kids playing with said object.
    • Also parodied in "Ants Revolution". The gang pulls out an RC toy and they begin to describe it exactly in the manner an announcer for a commercial would, going into every little detail about how it works and describing every feature with buzzwords, to the tune of the car driving around in crazy ways fit for a camera. It isn't until they finish talking about it that the car is shown to be the size of an ant.
  • Punny Name: Several, including Dustin Hopman, Bob Chewhart, and of course Houston (as in "Houston, we have a problem").
  • Recurring Extra: There's a few, such as a raccoon who makes occasional appearances.
  • The Rival: Ronald, to Nature Cat.
  • Sequel Episode: "Return to Mighty Mountain" is the sequel to "Mighty Mountain Climbers".
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Wild Batts", despite that episode being a crossover with Wild Kratts and featuring the Kratt brothers as Chris and Martin Batt, Nature Cat also mentions that the other neighborhood bats are named Daniel Bat, Peg + Bat, George the Curious Bat, and The Bat in the Hat.
    • In "No Bird Left Behind", Nature Cat says "Friends, rabbits, country dogs, lend me your ears", which is a reference to "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" from Julius Caesar.
    • In "A Nature Carol", Squeeks sings a parody of "Frosty the Snowman" called "Cheesy the Snowman".
  • Sick Episode: Hal gets one in "Fall for Hal".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Ronald, obviously.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In "No Bird Left Behind", Houston mixes his normal highbrow dialogue with a "How do you like me now, eh?".
  • Speech Impediment: When Nature Cat was a kitten, he used to have 2 speech impediments. He had a lisp and rhotacism so his catchphrase "Tally Ho" would sound like "Tawwy Ho". This is heard in the episode "Call it a Night".
  • Spock Speak: Houston the gerbil has a very sophisticated and intellectual manner of speech.
  • Sundial Waypoint: Inverted. The shadow of Hal's doghouse is used by the four friends to determine the time when a visiting squirrel will return. They already know where the shadow needs to appear from Daisy's photo, just not when it will get to the designated spot.
  • Three Shorts: Between each segment is a song (usually by the fictional band Dog Gone, but there has been one song sung by Daisy as well). These are cut in syndicated airings.
  • Title Theme Tune
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Squeeks and Daisy, respectively.
  • Tongue Twister: Lampshaded when the title character proposes a trip to the grocery store to buy birdseed for "the Fabulous Feast for our Fine Feathered Friends".
    • Daisy tries asking an actual woodchuck the solution to the "How much wood" example. The woodchuck, evidently sick and tired of being asked that, refuses to come out of his burrow, instead sticking out a "No Tongue Twisters" sign.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: More like GIFs always spoil. On PBS Kids' official Giphy channel, there are many spoilers for the special The Return of Bad Dog Bart in the form of GIFs.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: In "The Return of Bad Dog Bart", One-Eared Winnie looks a lot like Nature Cat. It's even lampshaded by the characters. Its later revealed that One-Eared Winnie, is, in fact, Gwendolyn, Nature Cat's long-lost sister.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: In "Halentine's Day", Hal makes a Valentine's Day card for his mom.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted, "Hal's Day Off" reveals that the show takes place in Chicagoland. Doubles as a Development Gag, as the show is actually produced in Chicago.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: "A Nature Carol" is a nature-themed spin on the Charles Dickens classic.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or, in Nature Cat's case, "Why did it have to be water?"
    • Nature Cat actually says "Why did it have to be snakes?" in "Cold-Blooded", as a reference to Indiana Jones.

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