On May 9, 2021, a TikTok video was posted that purportedly showed a dark moment from a classic children's cartoon. In the scene from "Tom and Jerry," three kittens appeared to have been drowned in a sack.
TikTok user @mnmixx posted the video. It was stitched with a question from @adam.araque. "What's one of the darkest things you've ever seen in a children's show?," asked the original video.
It was viewed more than 1 million times in its first week on TikTok.
It's true that a scene from a "Tom and Jerry" cartoon showed three kittens that had drowned in a sack.
The name of the cartoon was "Heavenly Puss." It was released in 1949.
In the story, Tom, a cat, is going about his usual hijinks while chasing Jerry, a mouse, when a piano falls down the stairs. Tom is crushed by the weight of the piano. He appears to die and go to the gates of heaven.
He walks up to the gate where the "Heavenly Express" train is soon to depart.
A cat conductor is managing the ticket gate where various deceased animals, including three kittens that pop out of a wet, bouncing sack, are trying to get into heaven. All are ushered onto the Heavenly Express train. Tom in the episode also appears in hell with Satan, which is portrayed by a big dog.
In the end, it appears that Tom dreamt all of it. He goes to embrace Jerry, who is puzzled at Tom's kindness and unaware of the scary dream.
When the Cartoon Played
The oldest mention of the "Heavenly Puss" cartoon that we could find in newspapers was from June 17, 1949. The Palladium-Item out of Richmond, Indiana, showed that the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon with the drowned kittens played with the Jimmy Stewart film, "The Stratton Story."
However, the cartoon episode appeared to have played with a number of films over the years. For example, on June 18, 1949, the News-Palladium out of Benton Harbor, Michigan, showed it played with the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, "The Barkleys of Broadway."
On the same day, the Eagle out of Bryan, Texas, printed that Barbara Stanwyck's "The Lady Gambles" was paired with the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon.
On May 7, 1950, The Selma Times-Journal displayed that "Heavenly Puss" played before the film "Holiday Affair."
The cartoon was shown with other films for a number of years after that.
In sum, it was true that an episode of "Tom and Jerry" showed three kittens that had drowned in a sack.