Last Updated on: January 3, 2023 by Crystal Uys
A recently released documentary on Netflix is trying to change how we look at cats. A group of feline specialists and a passionate director use science and history to challenge your perceptions.
You might ask why you’d want to sit down and watch a 67-minute documentary about cats when you can scroll through TikTok and watch cat videos until the cows come home. While this documentary may not be chock full of clips of cat zoomies or cats trying but failing to jump on household objects, it is crammed with interesting facts and scientific insight into the behavior and history of felines.
Inside the Mind of a Cat examines cat behavior from the viewpoint of scientists, cat behaviorists, and cat lovers. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from the documentary and learn more about the people who filmed it.
A Quick Look
|Release Date:||August 18, 2022|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
Who Directed the Documentary?
Inside the Mind of a Cat was directed by Andy Mitchell, a cinematographer, writer, and producer. According to his website, he is a four-time Emmy Award-winning director, writer, storyteller, and cameraman (amongst other titles).
Mitchell has been in the business for over 20 years so his focus hasn’t always been on cats. In fact, there isn’t really anything he hasn’t created a documentary about. From Sasquatch to diamonds and Jesus to Buddhist monks, nothing is off limits.
A Purr-fect Take on Physiology
The documentary begins with a look into the physiology of cats. Dr. Bruce Kornreich, the director of the Cornell Feline Health Center and cat physiologist, lends his expertise to this segment.
Dr. Kornreich explains that cats are perhaps the perfect land predator in terms of their physical traits, behavior, and perception. He says that cat DNA has not changed much over 10,000 years and that cat owners basically have a wild animal in their homes.
He talks about the cat’s spine and how they have more vertebrae than most mammals. Their vertebrae have cushioning discs between them that make the spine exceptionally flexible. It’s this flexibility that makes cats swift runners.
Cats are also excellent jumpers (though the viral videos may have you believe otherwise) thanks to their efficient muscular system. They are one of the few animals who activate 100% of their muscles when they jump and can actually jump five to six times their length in height. The film compared this feat to a human jumping over a giraffe.
Any long-time cat owner can tell you about their pet’s flexibility, especially as they contort their bodies to find a comfy position for a nap and their impressive jumping skills. This segment of the documentary is mostly beneficial to people who have never owned a cat before or really seen one in action.
Purr-plexing Cat Behavior, Explained
One of the most interesting parts of this documentary was the insight into cat behavior. Any cat owner can attest that sometimes their cat does something strange for seemingly no reason (zoomies, anyone?). The documentary took a deeper dive into some of these different behaviors to show that cats are much more complex than society has given them credit for.
For example, if you’ve ever felt your cat has read your mind or understood your mood, you’re not crazy. Cats have learned to become empaths to not only adapt to their environments but also survive. They can pick up on our feelings.
Another interesting cat behavior takeaway from the documentary comes from one of the contributors of the documentary, Dr. Saho Takago of Japan. She noted that cats have social differences depending on the culture they’re raised in. Takago ran experiments that suggest cats in Japan are less comfortable in unfamiliar spaces than their American counterparts. This may be because Japanese people rarely have large gatherings in their homes, so their cats aren’t as keen around strangers. Also, Japanese cats are primarily kept indoors, so they haven’t had a chance to explore anywhere other than their homes.
A Thorough Hiss-tory Lesson
Mitchell and his feline specialists delve deep into the little-known history of cats and how our relationship with them has changed over the last 10,000 years. The history is told in an easy-to-understand and fun way, complete with cute animations perfect for younger watchers.
For a long time, it was thought that humans first started domesticating cats around 4,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. But archaeological discoveries actually show that cats were a part of our lives much earlier than that.
In 2004, however, a cat’s jawbone was discovered in a late stone age burial ground on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean. The cat was believed to be just eight months old at the time of its death and was buried with its human owner. The burial date is hard to know, but it far precedes any Egyptian civilization.
The documentary suggests that the island’s wild cats were likely brought there to keep the rats at bay. It is believed this is when the relationship between humans and cats first began.
Cat Training – Anything Is Paw-sible
Most people believe cats are untrainable or, at the very least, much more challenging to train than their canine counterparts. While this may be true for some cats, the documentary shows that patience and commitment make anything possible.
The Savitsky Cats make a brief, but memorable, appearance in the film. They are a family from Ukraine who excels at cat training. They were an act on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent but were sadly eliminated in the quarterfinals. Their human owners, Maryna and Svitlana, explain their training style and even showcase some of their skills.
The Less Paw-Some Side
Not every documentary hits it out of the park. While Inside the Mind of a Cat does many things right, some aspects may be hit or miss with some viewers.
It feels a bit rushed and unorganized in some parts. For example, they spoke briefly about the history of cats at the beginning of the documentary before jumping into a segment about cat behavior. Then, towards the film’s middle, they delve a bit deeper into the history of cats. This may feel chaotic to some viewers.
Sometimes we wished they’d go a smidge deeper as it felt like they just skimmed the surface on some topics.
Much of the information may feel redundant to seasoned cat owners. If you’ve ever lived with cats, you probably won’t learn anything groundbreaking.
Inside the Mind of a Cat is an interesting documentary, especially if you’re a soon-to-be cat owner adopting your first. Forget everything you think you know about cats and their wacky behaviors and snuggle up with your beloved kitty to watch this easy-to-digest documentary.
If you have children, Inside the Mind of a Cat is an excellent introduction to cat behavior and history. Not to mention its length and colorful visuals are perfect for young viewers.
You might still consider giving the documentary a watch if you’re a cat owner. You may learn something new, but you may not. But it’s still 67 minutes of adorable cat videos, and that’s something every cat lover can get behind.
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!
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