Lightning is a Tom and Jerry character - an orange-red cat - who first appeared in the 1948 short, Old Rockin' Chair Tom, as Tom's rival. Lightning is named as such because in his first short, he practically moved at the speed of lightning. In later cartoons, Lightning often appeared as one of the alley cat bullies whose leader is Butch, and which also includes Topsy, but the alley cat bullies became buddies of Tom instead of rivals, as shown in Sleepy-Time Tom.

Occasionally viewers have confused Lightning with Tom's other cat friend Meathead, but there is a significant difference—the dopey Meathead has a longer muzzle, more hair, and is brown (or later, gray), while the smarter Lightning is orange and shares Tom's build. The confusion might have arisen because both cats are sometimes seen with bandaged tails. The two appear side-by-side in Sleepy-Time Tom and Scat Cats.

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