Herman and Katnip are a duo of cartoon characters (Herman the mouse and Katnip the cat). From 1944 to September 1950, Herman appeared without Katnip, who made his first appearance in November 1949 with Mice Meeting You. The two characters continued to star in animated cartoons by Famous Studios until 1959. Their cartoon series, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, together is essentially a clone of MGM's Tom and Jerry. The key difference is that, regardless of who personified good or evil (with Katnip being the latter on almost all occasions), Herman always came out on top against Katnip, while Tom won his fair share of comic battles against Jerry. However, Katnip rarely had trouble forcing Herman to pay in some manner for his victories. Arnold Stang voiced Herman while Sid Raymond voiced Katnip.
Leonard Maltin's published history of Hollywood cartoons Of Mice and Magic described the Herman and Katnip series as a prime stereotype of the "violent cat versus mouse" battles that were commonplace among Hollywood cartoons of the 1920s through the 1960s. The violence in this series, while intended for comedic effect, often reached a level of brutality that surpassed both Tom and Jerry, Mighty Mouse, and Warner Bros.' Sylvester the Cat. Herman's battles with Katnip always ended with Herman victorious over Katnip, and frequently Herman and his mouse companions would sing a victory song as they observed Katnip being brutally punished or even tortured (e.g. being eaten by sharks, killed in a rockslide while mountain climbing, strung up with Christmas lights and plugged into an electric socket, or even dying and his ghost being sent to "the fiery furnace").
Herman and Katnip and the other original Famous characters were purchased by Harvey Comics in 1958, who continued to promote the characters under the name Harveytoons. The 1944-50 Herman and Katnip cartoons (originally released as part of the Noveltoon series) were sold by Paramount in 1955 to U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. for television distribution.
In Herman and Henry, prior to his battles with Katnip, Herman teamed up in several cartoons with the henpecked rooster Henry ("Hector" in the comics). Henry's nemesis was his domineering wife, Bertha (aka "Chicken Pie"), who made him do all the work around the house, even by saying that if she catches Henry loafing again, "I'll clip your wings and chop you down to a croquette!" Bertha was, however, deathly afraid of mice, always "bawking" in shock every time Herman scared her; with Herman's help, Henry would try to manipulate Bertha into treating him more fairly (Henry: "Hey! Listen, you old hen! From now on, I'll do no more work!"). The title cards for the teamup shorts read "Featuring Herman and Henry"; the first such short was Henpecked Rooster (1944), and the last Sudden Fried Chicken (1946), where Bertha had finally beaten up Henry.
In Buzzy and Katnip, Katnip also had his share of running battles with Buzzy, a singing black crow in a flat straw hat, who spoke in stereotypical "black dialect" and had a voice reminiscent of Eddie Anderson, who played Rochester the valet on Jack Benny's program. Katnip's battle with Buzzy was usually based on Katnip trying to kick an ailment. He would read a rhyming verse from a medical book that suggested crow meat as the sure cure. Once confronted by Katnip, however, Buzzy would propose another solution, to which the cat usually replied, "Hmmmm, that sounds logical," but these solutions usually failed at the expense of Katnip, who would finally lose his patience and say, "This time, I'm doing what the book says!"
Buzzy the Crow was introduced in the 1946 Paramount cartoon, produced by Famous Studios, The Stupidstitious Cat. Buzzy's mannerisms and voice were based on what are now considered the offensive stereotypes of African-Americans of the time.
There were censorship issues related to Buzzy as a black stereotype with the same idea as Dumbo's Jim Crow.
Many "Herman and Henry" and Herman solo shorts are released on public domain videocassettes and DVDs. Some prints have the U.M.&.M or NTA logo at the start and end, masking the old Paramount titles. However the UCLA Film and TV archive restored these shorts to their original Paramount titles.
In 2011, Classic Media issued Herman and Katnip: The Complete Series, a DVD collecting all of Herman and Katnip's appearances together. Also included were two Katnip solo shorts, Feast and Furious and City Kitty. The cartoons were presented in shortened TV prints, with abbreviated opening titles, no end titles, and (in the case of Drinks in the Mouse) some censorship.
Herman and Katnip received bad criticism because of violence and racism. Sometimes Katnip is in blackface after being exploded in such shorts as Better Bait Then Never, Of Mice and Menace, and Sky Skrappers but is left alone on TV.