When a disappointed Bessie has to dress up as a cat, instead of a pirate, for Halloween, Ben, dressed up as "Benbo", accidentally knocks her silly with a plunger. Bessie now thinks she's a real cat, resulting in her causing mischief in the house and throughout San Francisco.
Ben must now find a way to get Bessie back to normal without their mother, Hilary, finding out about what happened. Meanwhile, Hilary carves pumpkins and Happy can't seem to get rid of his history with cats to not chase Bessie.
On Halloween, the citizens of San Francisco are preparing for the festivities by purchasing pumpkins and wearing their costumes. Donald the Postman is busy delivering mail, when he screams after reading his next destination is Bessie's house. As he walks to her house, Bessie contemplates using an arm hook or peg leg for her pirate costume. Happy is not thrilled to be going as a parrot, and tries to convince Bessie he can dress as a hot dog, to no avail.
Donald rings the Higgenbottom's doorbell, with an excited Bessie taking her package to the bedroom. However, she is disappointed to find out she got a cat costume instead of a pirate's, stating she has done a lot of research to be an "authentic" pirate, even giving herself scurvy. Bessie plans on returning the costume while she finds an alternative.
Ben is pretending he is "Benbo," and uses a plunger around the house as a weapon. Hilary uses a black sharpie in preparation of carving a pumpkin. After a plunger almost causes a vase to break, Hilary chastises her son for refusing to listen to her warnings that someone could get hurt by it. As she has told him three times already, she threatens that he won't go trick-or-treating if he keeps doing it.
However, he doesn't heed his mother's warning and shoots another plunger, though this time it escapes out of an open window. The plunger then ventures throughout San Francisco, hitting Donald's head, breaking Fritz's camera, causing Millie to lose her ballet outfit and The Hippie to receive it instead. It eventually returns into the house, ultimately hitting Bessie and slamming her against a mirror.
Ben and Happy, having overheard the impact, check on Bessie to make sure she's okay. Happy's attempt to revive her (by licking Bessie's face) succeeds, and Ben is relieved Bessie is seemingly fine. However, after she takes a look at herself in the mirror, all she can say is "meow." Ben at first thinks his sister is joking, but quickly finds out she genuinely believes herself to be a cat. Happy, due to his dog instincts, keeps barking and growling at Bessie, with Ben trying to keep him under control.
Hilary asks if everything is alright, with Ben lying and saying it is. After destroying Happy's bed and kicking Ben's stomach, Ben is now convinced that Bessie thinks of herself as a cat. He tries to bring his real sister back by giving her a bath, which ends disastrously. Hilary comes up the stairs and senses something is wrong with Happy, but Ben tells her he simply saw a stray cat. Hilary then begins sneezing, due to her cat allergy.
Bessie is hiding under her bed, and Ben tries to get her out. He decides to use Happy's chew toy as bait to lure Bessie out, which eventually works. With Bessie now distracted, Ben puts Bessie inside a cage so she won't escape. Ben and Bessie visit the Doctor/Vet, and he proceeds to use cat food so Bessie can feel safe to leave her cage. However, the Doctor/Vet believes Bessie is a cat as well, to Ben's disbelief. He advises Ben leave Bessie as is instead of causing an "identity crisis." After Ben tries to rip the cat costume off, a startled Bessie runs out of the building, where she meets a car about to run her over.
However, the car turns out to be a trick-or-treater dressed as one. Ben puts Bessie back in her cage, while Hilary gets ready to start carving. Happy is thrilled to be a hot dog after all, looking at his costume in a nearby mirror. Ben and Bessie return home, with Hilary wondering where her daughter is. Ben assures his mother he'll find Bessie, and shortly after Hilary's allergies start acting up once again. Now in her bedroom, Bessie leaves her cage. Ben tries to jog Bessie's memory by showing her the arm hook and peg leg from earlier, as well as dressing up as her and stating how much she loves badges. Neither attempt works, much to Ben's frustration.
Hilary calls for her daughter from the kitchen, and as Ben is still wearing Bessie's uniform, he masquerades as his sister so his mother won't be suspicious by Bessie's absence. He puts Bessie in the closet, but she escapes through an open air vent. Hilary is getting a pie out of the oven as Ben arrives. Things go smoothly, until Ben notices Bessie's eyes through the kitchen's air vent. With Hilary busy putting the finishing touches on her pumpkin, Ben takes this opportunity to get Bessie out of the vent.
Happy sits at the kitchen table, trying to keep himself from hurting Bessie. However, he has difficulty after seeing her walk along the kitchen's spice rack. Hilary wonders where Bessie went, all the while sneezing uncontrollably. Happy, barely able to pull himself together, leaves the room to save his sanity.
Bessie leaves the kitchen through another vent as Ben follows her. Happy tries to calm himself in Ben's room all the while, including putting on headphones and chaining himself. However, Bessie's constant meowing through the vents makes it even harder to keep himself from chasing her.
As Bessie rests on Ben's air vent, exposing her tail, Happy cannot take anymore and gives in, chasing his owner with reckless abandon on the roof. Ben tries to keep the two from chasing each other, which doesn't work. Bessie and Happy leap over a nearby house, with Happy following her on various roofs in San Francisco.
Their next stop is at a costume party, surprising several guests. They leave for another balcony as two mice (one gray and the other brown) join the fray. The mice run away on a clothesline, as Bessie and Happy follow them. The combined weight of all four of them causing the clothesline to rip apart, with Bessie and Happy each hanging on to it while the mice landed on a nearby home. However, with a cat nearby, their fate is sealed.
Bessie and Happy fall into a haunted house's chimney, resulting in the duo getting inside the owner's clothes and popping out from his chest, scaring the children and causing them to cry. Bessie and Happy then run towards the cafe, where Hilary is proud of her finished Jack O' Lantern.
However, after Bessie scratches her hair and Happy causes her to trip, the Jack O' Lantern flies in the air and lands on her head. She then lets out a large sneeze, causing her to hit her head against the wall with a cackling witch toy nearby. This causes Hilary, who is dressed as a witch, to believe she is one herself, cackling along with the toy.
Bessie and her dog finish chasing each other once they reach her bedroom. She gets stuck on the carpet, and Happy finally manages to catch her. He shakes her around like a rag doll, with a nearby Ben trying to use his plunger to return things back to the way they were. Just as before, the plunger hits Bessie on the head, with the velocity causing her to hit the wall. All the while, she dons a vampire costume due to unientionally leaving her closet open.
As Bessie comes to, she says "Wait, what happened?," with Ben and Happy relieved she's herself again. However, Bessie gives them a fright by momentarily making the two think she now believes herself to be a vampire, later assuring them she is "a better actress than [she] thought."
Shortly after that, Hilary arrives to see her children and dog, cackling maniacally. She calls for a cat, as Ben and Bessie say "Mom?" Hilary doesn't recognize being their mother, replying "Mom? Who's mom?" Hilary continues cackling as Ben, Bessie and Happy all scream. The episode ends with the trio saying in unison "Happy Halloween!", followed by laughter.
|Dee Bradley Baker||Happy, Fritz, Frankenstein, Animal Walla & Kid|
|Kevin Michael Richardson||Donald|
- This is the last of three holiday episodes (namely "Li'l Orphan Happy" and "Thanksgiving Beenactment") in the series.
- A Ladybug scout is shown in this episode and made a cameo as a trick-or-treater.
- Doctor/Vet's veterinarian's office is located at Happy Pet Vet.
- Ben states in the scene with Doctor/Vet he only has 34 minutes left before trick-or-treating starts.
- While Hilary is carving pumpkins in the kitchen, she is listening to The Catatonic Song, though it is not Bessie but a different singer performing the lyrics.
- The Catatonic Song (the version sung by Bessie) is not heard during the actual episode, but is played during the end credits instead of the standard Boys and Girls.
- Per Hilary, Bessie always sets the dinner table by 5:15 PM.
- In Bed's bedroom, a basketball, helicopter toy and CD called Feline the Opera are seen.
- The costumes characters dressed as:
- Bessie: Several, but most prominently a cat and vampire
- Happy: Parrot and hot dog
- Ben: "Benbo" and as his sister
- Hilary: Witch
- Hippie: Ballerina
- Running gag: Millie trying to find a Halloween costume, but failing.
- The episode title refers to catatonia, a neuropsychiatric condition.
- Ben's costume and the name Benbo references the film series Rambo.
- When Happy is chasing Bessie, several Halloween-related creatures and monsters are shown through windows as a silhouette, namely the Devil, a skeleton and vampire.
- Bessie's home address on the package is shown to be 231 W. Olive Street, San Francisco, California 91502. Nickelodeon Studio has the same address, the only exceptions being it is "avenue" instead of "street" and the location Burbank, rather than San Francisco.
- Starting with this episode, Bessie's skin color becomes tanner while her hair is more orange. Happy's fur also changes from a light blue to a darker shade. The animation quality has also changed significantly from the first season.
- The Higgenbottom residence has also changed in design, now using wood panelling on the inside. Bessie and Ben's bedrooms look very different from how they appeared in the first season.
- The Tex Avery shorts Bad Luck Blackie (1949) and The Counterfeit Cat (1949) both served as inspiration for this episode.
- "Catatonic"'s title card was inspired by the films Dr. Cyclops (1940) and Cat People (1942).
- This episode aired as part of Nickelodeon's "Shriek Week" theme during the Halloween season.
- Sunil Hall received an Annie Award nomination in the category of "Storyboarding in a Television Production" for his work on this episode. Likewise, character designer Bryan Arnett also was nominated for his work on "Catatonic."
- First episode not directed by Larry Leichliter, who did not return to the series following its first season. It is also the last episode written by series co-creator Erik Wiese.
- Being a holiday episode centered around Halloween, "Catatonic" is often kept out of rotation when the series is rerun.
- Parsley, Aaron (October 24, 2009). Amy Poehler Can't Believe Her Son Is Turning 1. People. Retrieved May 25, 2020. Quote: "Come Sunday, she’ll have more to celebrate than just a birthday. Nickelodeon is premiering a special Halloween episode of Poehler’s cartoon, The Mighty B! (11:30 a.m. EST)."
- Kirwan, Alex (October 22, 2009). Alex Kirwan's title card concepts. Tumblr. Retrieved July 9, 2020. Includes six unused title cards.
- Kirwan, Alex (October 22, 2009). Title card and its inspirations. Tumblr. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
- McLean, Tom (October 19, 2009). Nick Goes All Out for ‘Shriek Week’. Animation Magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- Kilday, Gregg (December 1, 2009). 'Up,' 'Meatballs' earn Annie noms, The Hollywood Reporter, Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- Kapko, Matt (December 1, 2009). 37th Annual Annie Award Nominations Announced. Animation World Network. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- animatedplus (July 15, 2021). NickRewind will air an all weekend marathon of The Mighty B! starting next Friday. Every episode except "Catatonic" and "Eye of the Honeybee/Thanksgiving Beenactment" (which are usually kept out of rotation) will air. Twitter. Retrieved August 5, 2021.