The Cattanooga Cats.


Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1969
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In 1968, Hanna-Barbara made a hit with Banana Splits, the mostly-animated variety show hosted by a musical combo, where Micro Ventures, Arabian Knights and other …

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… minor series got their starts. Characteristically, they followed it up almost immediately with another cut from the same cloth. Just as The Funky Phantom and Speed Buggy failed to tap into the mega-popularity of Scooby Doo, The Cattanooga Cats (in which all the segments were animated) made a predictably smaller splash than the show that inspired it.

The Cattanooga Cats were Country (guitarist and singer), Scoots (bass player), Groove (drummer), Kitty Jo (dancer and singer) and Teenie Tim. A mouse named Cheesie (either a keyboardist or the group's manager) was in early production materials, and possibly in the unaired (and virtually unseen) pilot, but was gone by the time the show itself aired. They had a segment in the hour-long show, also functioning as hosts to introduce the other segments (Around the World in 79 Days, Motormouse & Autocat, and It's the Wolf). In-between, they did their act, frequently using songs composed by Hoyt Curtin, who also did the show's memorable theme song. Curtin's other Hanna-Barbera work includes theme songs for The Flintstones and The Jetsons.

The Cattanooga Cats began September 6, 1969. The speaking voice of Country was done by William Callaway (Aquaman in Super Friends); Scoots by Jim Begg (Wheelie in Bailey's Comets); Groove by Casey Kasem (Robin in the 1969 Batman); and Kitty Jo by Julie Bennett (Miss Prissy in Foghorn Leghorn). Their singing voices were by Michael Lloyd and Peggy Clinger, whose other work isn't in animation.

After the first season, It's the Wolf (which starred Mildew Wolf, who was always trying to eat a creature named Lambsy Divey) and Motormouse & Autocat (a pair of rival racers along the lines of Tom Slick and Baron Otto Matic) were spun off into their own half-hour show, while the Cats became sole stars of the remaining half-hour. Around the World in 79 Days (which starred Phileas Fogg Jr., the son of Jules Verne's hero) was dropped.

As a half-hour show, Cattanooga Cats limped on for another couple of seasons, but due to lack of enthusiasm among viewers, only about a dozen and a half episodes were made altogether. It languished for years without being rerun in any major venue, until it finally appeared on Boomerang, a cable station that specializes in old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, for a brief period during the early 21st century. It's currently back in cartoon limbo.


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Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.