Director: Walt Disney
Release Date: May 3, 1929
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse

When The Cat's Away © Walt DisneyAwkwardly, in this sixth Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey and Minnie are portraited as real mice.

They are joined by several look-a-likes in a house party, while the owner, a drunk cat, is gone hunting. There’s still some silent comedy (and no dialogue), but there’s no real story, only an extended musical number. Therefore this cartoon can be regarded as the first of many ‘song-and-dance-routine’-cartoons that would dominate the early 1930s. It even predates the Silly Symphony series, which initial sole raison d’être seems to be song-and-dance-routines.

These cartoons no doubt delighted the audiences at the time. However, I regret their coming, because both story and surreal humor had to give way to the rise of them. ‘When the Cat’s Away’ is a prime example: despite some clever gags, it is easily the dullest of the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons.

After ‘When the Cat’s Away’ Mickey would never been portrayed as a real mouse again. Like in his first five cartoons, he would just be a boy in the shape of a mouse. The idea of Mickey being a mouse would become negligible compared to the cartoon star he was. Mickey was seen as an actor, not as an animal. This would eventually lead to the awkward situation of Mickey dealing with ‘real’ and very different looking mice in ‘The Worm Turns‘ (1937).

Watch ‘When The Cat’s Away’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 6
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Opry House
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Barnyard Battle