Claude Cat

Claude Cat

Claude Cat is an animated cartoon character in the "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" series of cartoons from Warner Brothers.

Claude Cat (a pun on the homonym "clawed cat") had his origins in several other cat characters used by animator Chuck Jones from 1940 to 1945. These cats were mostly similar in appearance and temperament, with black fur and anxious personalities. For example, in the 1943 film "The Aristo-cat" (the character's first speaking role), Jones paired his unnamed cat against the mind-manipulating mouse duo, Hubie and Bertie.

Jones redesigned the neurotic feline for the 1948 film "Mouse Wreckers" (perhaps to distinguish him from Friz Freleng's popular puss, Sylvester). The short is another Hubie and Bertie vehicle, only this time, the antagonist they antagonize is Claude, drawn as he would appear in all future cartoons: yellow, with a red shock of hair and a white belly (his exact markings would vary from cartoon to cartoon). In this as in all future Claude Cat cartoons, Jones' careful attention to personality is easily evident. Claude is a nervous and lazy animal. His attempts to protect his home from the manipulative mice Hubie and Bertie prove futile as the rodents torment him by (among other things) putting aquariums in all the windows to make Claude think he's underwater or by nailing his furniture to the ceiling. Jones set the mice on Claude once more in the 1950 film "The Hypo-Chondri-Cat". This time, the miniature Machiavellis convince the neurotic Claude that he's dead. Claude would run afoul of the mice once more in 1951's "Cheese Chasers" and against another mouse duo in "Mouse Warming" in 1952.

Jones added another idiosyncrasy to Claude's id in another 1950 film, "Terrier Stricken". Here, Claude is scared out of his mind by a diminutive dog named Frisky Puppy, newly adopted by Claude's owners. The main theme, however, is jealousy as Claude's attempts to oust the intruder repeatedly fail due to the cat's intense cowardice - a running gag is Claude ending up wet. Jones repeated the scenario with slight variations in "Two's a Crowd", also in 1950, and "No Barking" in 1954 (featuring a cameo by Tweety Bird).

In future cartoons, Jones recast Claude as a silent villain, still possessing his full set of neuroses. This stage of the character's evolution is best exemplified by the 1954 film "Feline Frame-Up". Here, Claude convinces his owner that fellow pet Marc Antony is trying to eat the precious kitten Pussyfoot. Marc Antony is tossed out, allowing Claude the run of the house. That is, until Marc Antony outwits the cat and makes him sign a confession admitting to his crimes.

Claude was played by voice actor Mel Blanc and after classic films, Joe Alaskey using a quirky, strangulated voice similar to that of Marvin the Martian (but without Marvin's precise enunciation).

Jones retired Claude in the late 1950s. He was concentrating on other characters, such as Wile E. Coyote and Pepe le Pew. Nevertheless, the character enjoys some popularity as one of Jones' more humorous, if forgotten, creations. In the 2006 Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Claude cat has a very brief cameo as an employee going home for Christmas.

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