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"Whoever heard of a six-foot cat!?"
—Mr. Krinklebine, the Animated Adaptation
The Cat in the Hat is a children's storybook written by Dr. Seuss in 1957, that started off his series of books for beginning readers. The story opens on two children who are stuck inside their house due to rain while their mother is out, when they suddenly get a visit from the titular character, a six-foot-tall cat who wears a tall striped hat. The Cat offers to entertain them by performing various tricks, with help from his funny-looking assistants, Thing One and Thing Two, despite the objections from the kids' pet fish. Eventually, after the Cat and the Things end up making a mess of the house, the kids take control of the situation, and the Cat makes up for it by cleaning the place on his way out right before the mother returns.
The Cat became one of Dr. Seuss' most enduring characters, returning the following year in a Sequel titled The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, in which he leaves a "cat ring" in the bathtub and spends the rest of the book spreading the spot around in an attempt to get rid of it. In addition, he hosted three other books by Seuss and also served as the narrator for the otherwise unrelated Daisy-Head Mayzie (published after Seuss' death).
Outside of the printed world, the original book was adapted as a television special by DePatie-Freleng Studios in 1971, in which the storyline was expanded so that the Cat enlists the kids in helping him find his missing "Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gradunza", and the fish is given the name Carlos K. Krinklebine. It was followed up with Dr. Seuss On the Loose (in which the Cat introduced animated adaptations of The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham) and The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (in which the Cat matches wits with the title character of How the Grinch Stole Christmas). The Cat later starred in puppet form in The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. The original book also got a Living Books title.
He was also portrayed by Mike Myers in a live-action film in 2003. It was not well received by critics and fans, but especially the Geisel Estate, who effectively stopped production of any future live action adaptation.
The original book(s) contain examples of:
- Constrained Writing: It was written using a specific constrained vocabulary consisting only of words you'd expect a six-year-old to know.
- Matryoshka Object: The Cat has Little Cat A under his hat, who has Little Cat B under its hat and so forth.
- No Name Given: The boy who narrates the story is never given one.
- Only Sane Man: The Fish.
- Order Versus Chaos: The Cat is a Trickster Archetype Ubermensch who calls for tearing down the old social order. His foil is a fish who insists on maintaining respect for traditional authority figures.
- Person with the Clothing
- Rain, Rain, Go Away
- Reset Button: Before he leaves, the Cat always manages to undo all the damage he's caused.
- Screwy Squirrel: The Cat.
- Technology Marches On: The idea that children would be sitting around with nothing to do because it's raining outside is rather quaint today. Nowadays the Cat in the Hat would have to tear them away from their video games.
The animated version contains examples of:
- "I Am" Song: In which the Cat lists the many ways to say his name in other languages.
- Irony: The kids are bored, but the first song that's played highlights all of the toys that are littered in the house that they aren't playing with!
- MacGuffin: The one he is searching for is his "moss-covered, three-handled family gradunza"... whatever that means.
- When the mother returns, she notes that the Cat in the Hat had said MacGuffin in his hands. It's assumed that the item was actually his moss-green colored umbrella. Which would explain the expression of the kids when they hear it.
- Youtube Poop: A "random mode" version of the special was one of the earliest videos of this type.
The Film of the Book contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: It won't be the first (or the last) time that Mike Myers's characters was hit in the groin by someone.
- Adaptation Expansion: Well, there's a dog, Mom's boss demanding that her house be spotlessly clean for a party that night, a mean, overweight neighbor, who is really The Dragon to the Cat, and trying to woo Mom and get Conrad shipped off to miliary school, the Cat planning an invasion from his dimension to ours, etc.
- Adaptational Villainy: The Cat is a LOT more malicious here.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Thing 2 will also accept 'Thing A', 'Super Thing', 'Thing King', 'Chocolate Thun-da', or 'Ben'.
- Aliens Are Bastards: The Cat is cruel and is from another dimension.
- Aliens Speaking English: The Cat does, however his Co-Dragons, Thing 1 and Thing 2, speak in alien gibberish.
- Big Bad: The Cat, in a Man Behind the Man kind of way.
- Big Bad Friend: The Cat.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Larry.
- Big Good: Mom.
- Bastard in Sheep's Clothing: Larry poses as a kindly millionaire when he is really Dragon-in-Chief to the Cat.
- Butt Monkey: Mrs. Kwan, the hopelessly narcoleptic babysitter is constantly abused by the Cat, the children and Thing One and Thing Two to levels that are just plain cruel. It doesn't help that she's the only non-white member of the cast.
- Darker and Edgier: A hopefully unintentional example, but still.
- Disowned Adaptation: The Geisel estate really wishes that people would forget about this film, as shown by the upcoming Animated Adaptation.
- Double Entendre: The live-action adaptation was PACKED with them. One of the most prominent being The Cat saying "Dirty ho!" as he throws away a garden ho.
- Everybody Owns a Ford: A Ford Focus hatchback in Egg Yolk Yellow or a decidedly non-stock lime green, with equally non-stock wheel spats that spoil the car's lines.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Cat's dimension has plenty of these, including himself.
- Faux Affably Evil: See Big Bad Friend.
- Three-Man Band:
- Franchise Killer: It did well at the box office, but good luck finding someone who likes it. It was bad enough that Dr. Seuss's estate no longer authorizes live-action film adaptations of his books.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Don't Forget: "SON OF A B(Cue Sound Effect Bleep)"
- Groin Attack: The Cat disguises himself as a pinata at a birthday party, kids hit him with plastic bats, and then a bigger kid with a big wooden bat orders them to move out of his way.
- Conrad predicts that it can't end well and Cat frantically raises a white flag but the boy stands behind him and slams the bat directly into Cat's right groin. The Cat screams for 10 seconds, then he goes into a mental state imagining himself as a woman swinging on a swing while wearing a milk maid outfit. It cuts back to him having a Villanous Breakdown.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: (video game) Nolan North as the fish? You'll never look at Nathan Drake the same way again. And Kath Soucie is both Things.
- Also, the titular Cat is Austin Powers (as well as Dr. Evil). That probably explains most of his behavior in the movie.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Cat, Thing 1 and Thing 2.
- Karma Houdini: Whereas Big Bad Wannabe Larry receives some good old-fashioned Laser-Guided Karma, the Cat receives none at all.
- Logo Joke: The Universal, DreamWorks and Imagine logos are animated in Seussian form.
- Playing with Syringes: Conversed. One of the suggested treatments for Conrad being a "rule-breaker" and Sally being a "control freak" on the Cat's Phunometer is "a series of painful injections all over your body."
- Retro Universe
- Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: The Cat's plan.
- Something Else Also Rises: Happens with the Cat's hat when the picture of Mom falls open, revealing that she has something of a... dirty past.
- Spiritual Successor: This was co-produced by Universal and Imagine Entertainment, which had mounted the live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Comedy star Mike Myers being cast as the Cat is a clear analogue to Jim Carrey as the Grinch.
- Trickster Mentor: The Cat.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: A subversion, as the movie is a lot more cynical and gritty than the previous versions. But by God, is the Cat ever vile. He repeatedly tries to kill two CHILDREN particularly in the climax, when he sends to go shut the crate which is really a portal to his dimension from ours, he remorselessly just lets it suck up Sally along with everything else.
- Villanous Breakdown: See Groin Attack.
- Would Hurt a Child: Horrifyingly enough.
- Women Are Wiser: Played both ways. Mom is wiser than Larry because she isn't working for the Cat like he is. Conrad and Sally also have this problem with Sally being level-headed while Conrad is reckless. However, due to being younger, they trust the Cat.