Scaredy Cat is a 1948 Merrie Melodies cartoon short directed by Chuck Jones. It is the first in his "horror vacation" trilogy starring Porky Pig and Sylvester, followed by Claws for Alarm (1954) and Jumpin' Jupiter (1955). It is notable as one of only five cartoons from the post-July 1948 Warner Bros. cartoon library (which were never sold or licensed to another company) to get a Blue Ribbon reissue with its opening titles removed (although they were later restored) as well as the latest-released of the five, being the final cartoon the studio released in 1948.
The cartoon begins with Porky and his pet cat Sylvesternote arriving at their "new" home – a creepy Old, Dark House – late at night. Porky, unfazed, prepares to settle in for a good night’s sleep, while a terrified Sylvester soon discovers there is a cult of murderous mice inhabiting the place – and planning to make its new owners their next victims.
Edited into 1977's Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special, where clips from both it and Claws for Alarm were combined and re-arranged into one sequence and the events were shown as being caused by Witch Hazel as part of her Halloween trickery.
Scaredy Cat provides examples of:
- Bowdlerization: Cartoon Network and Boomerang have aired two versions of this short in the US, each with violent parts edited out:
- The more common version has the Blue Ribbon Merrie Melodies title card and cuts the scene where Sylvester gets a pistol from a dresser drawer and threatens to kill himself if Porky does not let him stay to protect him from the mice, along with the scene where Porky bends over to pick up a scared Sylvester and nearly misses being shot by a mouse in a black hood. This edit was also used when the short aired on ABC (as part of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show) and the Kids' WB! network.
- A rarely-shown dubbed version, which first aired on a 4:00 am showing of the Cartoon Network compilation show Bugs and Daffy in 2003 and again on a New Year's Day marathon of Looney Tunes cartoons on January 1, 2010, has the original title cards and credits and reinstates the scene where Porky bends over to pick up a scared Sylvester and nearly misses getting shot by a mouse in a black hood, but still edits the scene where Sylvester withdraws a pistol from a drawer and threatens to kill himself with it and fights with Porky over the gun. In contrast to the usual "dissolve-edit" version that aired frequently on Cartoon Network, the newly edited version cuts from Porky asking Sylvester to leave his bedroom to Sylvester crying and Porky chastising him for being a crybaby before relenting, and crops the shot of Porky chastising Sylvester for crying so the gun behind Porky's back is never shown. As of 2011, this version was regularly shown on both Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
- Color Failure: After being lowered into the basement from the kitchen, Sylvester re-emerges nearly four hours later white with fear (and sporting a Thousand-Yard Stare).
- Cowardly Lion: Sylvester is one, of the housecat variety.
- Cruel Twist Ending: After Sylvester saves Porky, the executioner mouse appears, and bludgeons Sylvester with a mallet. (Although there's plenty of room to indicate that our two main characters will be fine, as the mouse only got Sylvester, who's only knocked out, and has recovered from far worse already.)
- Dramatic Thunder: Accompanies the establishing shot of the house at the start of the cartoon.
- Driven to Suicide: Averted. When Sylvester tells Porky about the killer mice having executed the previous homeowners' cat, Porky refuses to believe him, at which point Sylvester tries to kill himself by putting a gun to his head. Porky stops him and decides to let Sylvester sleep with him.
- Failed a Spot Check: All through the short with Porky until he finally realizes Sylvester was telling the truth about the murderous mice inhabiting the house:
- When he allows Sylvester to sleep with him, he doesn't notice that the mice pushed his bed out the balcony doors, causing it to land on a flagpole. After Porky tells Sylvester to close the window, Sylvester gets out of bed to do so, flinging the bed back upstairs, but instead, he closes the window for a birdhouse, only then does he realize too late that the mice threw him out the window.
- When Porky drags Sylvester back into the kitchen after the anvil incident, the executioner mouse pushes a bowling ball down towards them, and after Sylvester pushes Porky out of the way, the latter doesn't notice the former's bed in the kitchen lowering down into the basement. Then, as Porky drags Sylvester back into the kitchen, he doesn't notice the executioner mouse pulling a gun on him, but he dodges the bullet, believing there must be mice.
- After placing Sylvester in his bed, Porky doesn't notice and is almost hit by an arrow, a Pendulum of Death rising out of the kitchen floor, and several swords and an axe and multiple knives (being impaled on the door) as he leaves the kitchen.
- Guardian Angel: Sylvester’s appears to him when he runs out on Porky about to be murdered execution-style. The angel chews out Sylvester for his cowardice and convinces him to go back and drive the mice out of the house. As Sylvester beats down the mice, all the angel can do after the fact is look on as the mice flee the house.
- Haunted House: a non-supernatural example.
- Heart Beats out of Chest: A variant occurs after Sylvester witnesses the killer mice carting away the cat belonging to the previous homeowners: his heart visibly pounds in his throat but only stretches it from side-to-side instead of forward.
- Hidden Harasser: Porky doesn't catch on to the mice trying to kill him. He just thinks Sylvester is overreacting, or worse, is the one actually trying to kill him.
- Late to the Realization: As Porky prepares himself for bedtime, Sylvester hides in his suit instead of going to his bed in the kitchen. It's not until Porky changes into his pajamas and prepares to go to sleep does he realize too late Sylvester was hiding in his clothes. Porky then kicks Sylvester out of his bedroom and throws him downstairs. Cue Sylvester seeing the murderous mice carrying away the previous homeowners' cat!
- A Mischief of Mice: The mice residing in Porky and Sylvester's new home are vicious, heartless murderers.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We never find out what happened to Sylvester in the basement, other than the fact that it went on for nearly four hours, and it absolutely horrified him. It's all the more terrifying because of this.
- Off with His Head!: Implied as we see the previous house owner’s cat being carted away by the mice, with one mouse wearing an executioner’s hood and holding an axe. We can assume this would have been Porky’s fate as well, had Sylvester not plucked up courage and returned to save the day.
- Pendulum of Death: A pendulum pops out of the floor just as Porky is walking out of the kitchen after putting Sylvester in his bed.
- Possession Presumes Guilt: Sylvester catches a falling anvil before it drops onto a sleeping Porky Pig. When Porky wakes up, he sees Sylvester holding the anvil above him and assumes the cat is up to no good. Justified, as Porky previously saw Sylvester's previous attempts to warn him of the killer mice as causing trouble.
- Reused Character Design: The mice all closely resemble Hubie and Bertie in appearance.
- The Runt at the End: After Sylvester violently ejects the mice from the house, they're seen fleeing in a pack followed by one of these.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Sylvester runs away after the mice capture Porky. Fortunately, his guardian angel convinces him to return, and then beat down the mice, who flee the house instead.
- Shout-Out: At the end of the cartoon, after braining Sylvester with a mallet from the cuckoo clock, the "executioner" mouse removes his black hood before chuckling and declaring "Pussycats is the cwaziest peoples!" The mouse's appearance (crooked teeth, a pencil mustache, crossed eyes and a Napoléon-style bicorne hat) is based on comedian and Fox Movietone News narrator Lew Lehr, and the line is a variant of Lehr's own catchphrase "Monkeys is the cwaziest peoples!"
- Take Our Word for It: We never find out what Sylvester was subjected to when he was lowered down into the basement, but whatever it was, it scared him so much it turned his fur white.
- Talking with Signs: Porky goes into the kitchen to prove that Sylvester is just seeing things. He is next seen Bound and Gagged by the mice and taken away to receive the same treatment as the previous homeowners' cat, holding a sign that reads "You were right, Sylvester."
- Telephone Polearm: When his guardian angel gives him the courage to go back into the house and save Porky from being decapitated by the killer mice, Sylvester grabs a tree branch to attack said mice with, but then reconsiders and takes the whole tree instead.
- Took a Level in Badass: After Sylvester's guardian angel inspires him to save Porky, he uproots a freaking tree, and single-handedly destroys the death cult to save his master.
- The Voiceless: Sylvester notably does not speak in this short (other than two plaintive meows at Porky).
- You Have to Believe Me!: The trope that drives all three shorts in the trilogy, though at least in this one, Porky finally gets it (albeit only once the mice have him completely tied up and on the way to his execution).