Heathcliff – a striped, orange, and unruly (but lovable) cat – was a popular TV cartoon cat during the 1980s. This cat is a very naughty feline indeed. He enjoys creating chaos on his street, especially kicking trash cans and chasing lady cats.

Comic strip

There were two animated television series featuring this mischievous cat. As a girl, I was familiar with the 1984 TV series. My siblings and I used to watch it after school.

However, I didn’t know (until much later) that this popular cartoon started out as a comic strip. George Gately created the comic strip in 1973. It is to this day one of the most popular comic strips of all time. Not surprisingly, this cartoon cat still has many devoted fans around the world.

The comic strip continues to be distributed to more than one thousand newspapers. That’s staying power if you ask me.

Comic books

In 1985, Star Comics – a family and children oriented company owned by Marvel Comics – launched a series of comics featuring this cat. At some point, the new releases bore the Marvel logo instead of the Star brand. In total, there were 56 issues produced by Star/Marvel.

In 1987, Star released Heathcliff’s Funhouse. This title was later switched to the Marvel brand as well.

Television shows

As I mentioned above, two animated television shows were created based on the comic strip. The first TV series, which began in 1980, was produced by Ruby-Spears Productions. This show had two seasons: The first season was entitled Heathcliff- and Dingbat. The second season was called Heathcliff and Marmaduke. The series ended in 1982, with a total of 32 episodes.

The second animated series, produced by DiC Entertainment, started in 1984. In this series, The Catillac Cats segment was introduced and appeared after the Heathcliff-segment. In Spanish, the series was titled Heathcliff y Riff Raff. This was the show I used to watch as a kid. Another Spanish version of the show was aptly titled "Picaro Gato", which roughly translated means "mischievous cat".

The Catillac Cats

The Catillac Cats is a gang of junkyard cats. The Gang leader is Riff Raff, a short but keen, tough, and street-smart cat. He’s always trying to make a quick buck through different scams. He lives on a discarded plane, which sits atop a junk pile. The members of his gang include Hector, Mungo, and Wordsworth. Here’s a little more information about each of them:

Hector: A brown cat, he thinks he’s smart enough to be the leader of the gang. Sometimes he clashes with Riff Raff about decisions affecting the gang.

Mungo: He’s a rather slow, but decidedly well-meaning cat. He’s large and purple.

Wordsworth: A white cat who always wears roller skates and headphones, Wordsworth fancies himself a poet, thus he mostly speaks in rhyme. He’s named after the poet William Wordsworth. In the Spanish version he was renamed “Poeta”, which means "poet".

The gang (except Riff Raff) lives in a white and red Cadillac, after which the gang took its name.

Other characters

Cleo: She is Riff Raff’s girlfriend and lives in a music store. She’s smart, beautiful, and feisty.

Bush: He's a big, long-haired dog who also lives in the music store. Bush is always bumping into things because he can barely see with all that hair covering his eyes.

Leroy: A dog guard, he too lives in the junkyard. He’s the nemesis of Riff Raff and his gang. He’s always trying to throw them out the junkyard.

Interestingly enough, only Hector, Mungo, and Wordsworth appeared regularly on the Heathcliff-segment. Riff Raff only made a very brief cameo appearance. Similarly, Heathcliff only appeared once on the Catillac Cats show.

I really loved this segment, as it provided a more urban feel to the show.

Similarities with Garfield

Many have pointed out that this naughty cat has quite a few things in common with that other fat cat – Garfield. Both are striped, overweight, orange cats. Both think that they’re smarter than their owners, and smarter than dogs. Both think that they’re the kings of their respective homes. And, of course, they both have an attitude.

However, while Garfield enjoys the comforts and luxuries of his home, this other orange cat enjoys terrorizing the neighborhood (as the theme song suggests). He actually spends a great deal of time doing just that: creating havoc on the street. One of his favorite activities is aggravating both the fish monger and the milkman. He also loves tipping over any trash can he comes across.

He is also quite the ladies man. This trait often gets him in trouble with Sonja, his girlfriend. Sonja is a white, pretty, and fat cat and she appears regularly on the show.


Heathcliff- The Movie! premiered in 1986. It was produced by DiC Entertainment. The movie is based on the adventures of this fun cat. In the movie, he tells his life story to his nephews. Several episodes of the TV show are recreated.

Gift ideas

There are several gift options for every Heathcliff-fan on your list. Here are some ideas:

-- You can give DVDs of this popular cartoon series. You can also give the DVD of the movie.

-- If your friends love and/or collect jewelry, then a Healthcliff-inspired Italian charm makes a great choice.

-- A Heathcliff-themed t-shirt makes an inexpensive gift.

-- For those who love reading, a comic book based on this lovable cat is a great gift.

There you have it, these are only a few ideas but you can certainly find something that will delight cat lovers who are also fans of this popular TV cartoon cat.

Note: All the copyrighted characters mentioned here are trademarks of their owners.

Related topics

Garfield - That fat orange cat!

Top Cat and the Gang

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