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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. The show 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.

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.
  • 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." He hops up and down clutching it, but has no problem chasing after the ball with the rest of the gang afterwards.
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  • Animal Talk: No, duh! Although only some of the extras can talk; which ones can and which ones can't seem to be completely up to whether it's more convenient to have them talk at that moment or not. This becomes confusing when one episode is dedicated 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.
  • Big Bad: Ronald. He also serves as both an Arch-Nemesis and The Rival thoughout the show.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Catch-Phrase:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fat Cat: Ronald. Becomes the focus of "The Legend of the Gold Gardens" where he proves to be too out of shape to climb a mountain, and only barely gets past the obstacles before it.
  • 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Literally in "Moth Frolic-Fest". One of the moths says that he can camouflage to look like bird poop.
    • In "Stop and Hear the Cicadas", the gang learns that the cicadas make their noise to attract females.
    • Some of the lyrics in Michael Bluejay's song in the episode "Love You, Michael Bluejay" are "Take your beak, kiss me on my cheek, oh yeah!". Not something you would expect to hear from an Edutainment Show on PBS.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Iconic Outfit: Nature Cat wears an outfit that is very reminiscent to that of Robin Hood's.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Happens towards the end of "Heartthrob Hamster".
  • 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!"
  • 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 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.
  • My Nayme Is: Squeeks, not Squeaks.
  • Nature Lover: Really? Who would have guessed?
  • Never Say "Die": Averted in Let's Talk Turkey Vulture.
    Daisy: I know it's natural, but it always makes me sad when the growing in my garden stops and the plants die.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Michael Bluejay.
  • 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.
  • 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"
  • Sick Episode: Hal gets one in "Fall for Hal".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Ronald, obviously.
  • 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".
  • 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. Its 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.
  • 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".