Feline Friday: Tigger (Winnie the Pooh)

Feline Friday is my chance to celebrate famous cats across the arts, whether their origins are in gaming, film, anime, literature or anywhere else.

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First Appearance: The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

Before we get started, let’s get something out of the way: I am resolute that The House at Pooh Corner sounds like some kind of thinly veiled innuendo for sodomy. Having never read the book myself, I can’t confirm with certainty that this wasn’t a story about sodomy, but I would think it to be rather unlikely.

Anyway. Let’s try to recover.

Among the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood, there is none more bombastic than the striped, ricocheting menace, Tigger. A stuffed tiger plush toy brought to life through the sheer scope of a child’s imagination, he is known for bounding into any situation without a second thought, or indeed, a first thought that preceded it.

His skills include bouncing, holding pens, and being a dick at dinner parties by refusing whatever his host offers.

Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about Jesus Christ?”

Tigger is eager to assist his friends and eminently curious about anything he happens upon. Despite his limited cranial capacity, he fancies himself as a bit of an ideas man — though his plans rarely bear fruition, instead yielding potentially disastrous consequences.

In my childhood, I always saw Rabbit as the foil to Tigger’s fun and fancy-free nature, but with the passing years that perspective has shifted. I now recognise that Rabbit appears to be the only one in the Hundred Acre Woods who is actually gainfully employed, and despite his best efforts, he ends up the fall guy simply because Tigger decided it was time to bounce the fuck up in his business.

As a character with over 90 years of misadventure to his name, Tigger has evolved quite a bit, with his most definitive form taking shape once Walt Disney got hold of the license. As of 1968’s Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, he would take on a more anthropomorphic appearance, allowing him to also develop a whimsical look in his eye and the very definition of a shit-eating grin.

Initially, Wally Boag was pegged to voice Tigger, one of many roles that Walt Disney would offer him throughout the years. Upon the latter’s death, Boag had the rug pulled out from under him, deemed ‘too zany for a children’s film’, and ventriloquist Paul Winchell would be inserted in his place.

Damn, y’all, Disney execs really hit Wally with that Doug from Simpsons treatment, asking with disapproval, “why does it have to be zany“?

Let’s bounce | Walt Disney Television Animation

We’ll never know how well Boag’s frenetic style would have suited the equally scatterbrained Tigger, but I’m damn sure happy that Winchell was given a shot. He offered such a loveable warmth to the role that has become just as deeply entrenched in the character’s ethos as his wild personality.

Had it not been for Winchell (and Jim Cummings later on), Tigger might prove to be grating, even downright unlikeable. But with that alluring, almost humble tone, he has instead become one of Disney’s most universally adored characters

Tigger also earns brownie points for discouraging kids from smoking crack, though he almost certainly dabbles with meth in his spare time. You’ve gotta account for that constant flow of energy somehow, after all.

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