Shows aimed at cat lovers entertain, educate

While Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell has been generating a whole lot of buzz among cat lovers, a few other shows have been devoted exclusively to cats. Dogs are still ahead of cats in the race for pet television viewers.

Must Love Cats has an entertaining premise. Cat lover John Fulton, who is kind of cute if you like the scruffy, unshaven type (a personal aside: what is with guys who can’t shave?), has a golly-gee-whiz perspective as he travels across the country interviewing people who are devoted to cats. Along the way, he composes ditties on his guitar to reflect the storyline. He’s spoken with the owners of Dusty, the klepto-kitty, a man who has designed his house around his cats, a resident of Key West whose cats are street performers, an arborist who rescues cats stuck in trees, a woman who turned her million-dollar home into a cat sanctuary and other cat-centric characters. He also sampled catnip and cat-poo coffee, which is actually the by-product of a luwak, or civet-like mammal.

The show highlights the variety of people whose lives are touched by cats and how deeply cats are ingrained into our society. It’s received lots of positive feedback in the cato-sphere, so more episodes will probably follow. Update: The show has indeed been renewed and a call has gone out for casting.

Housecat Housecall, for those who were ambitious enough to get up by 8 a.m. on Saturdays, documented the visitations of Aussie-accented “Dr. Katrina,” to various pristine households and celebrities. The “problems” were easy fixes – a counter-surfer kitty, a kitty who hid when company arrived, cats who insisted on early morning walk-up calls, an interview with a cat-owning celebrity.

I’ll be honest here. When you live with cats, you have to pick and choose your battles. Counter surfing is not one of them in this household, i.e. Tekla and Mollie eat on the counter to prevent Pully from hoovering their share of rations. And Tekla loves basking under the lights in the soffit.

Does it matter if your cat hides when you have company? I’d rather have that than a kitty who bolts when the front door is opened. And chances are good that once the party is in progress, Puff will check out its participants.

So Dr. Katrina seems to deal with pretty lightweight problems.

Cats 101 profiles several different breeds of cats within each episode accompanied by sound bites from different pet experts, a health and life-style check list for prospective owners and a real-life story related to each breed, though more often the breed profiled is a rescued look-alike. It’s an interesting primer if you’re thinking of getting a purebred cat.

People are quick to assign a breed, or combination of breeds, to shelter animals in particular. With cats, a large, longhaired cat is a Maine Coon, a gray cat is a Russian Blue. A kit is now available to determine the breed of a dog through its DNA.  Such labeling makes an animal more adoptable … it’s a matter of marketing.

Too Cute! Kittens has been aired for just one episode, but it’s a nice look at how kittens experience their first days and weeks. A Persian, Abyssinian and Bengal litter were featured in the first program. Without a doubt, the kittens were “too cute,” so the show does nothing to quell an advanced case of kitten lust.

The show does a good job in differentiating the development and characteristics among the breeds profiled. With the Persian litter, a kitten is determined if it is show quality by how it tolerates bathing and handling along with its appearance. With the Aby litter, the development of the runt (Tiny Dancer) is followed as she struggles to catch up with her siblings. And the Bengals (under strict supervision) explore the great outdoors. We’d like to see further episodes of this show.

Confessions: Animal Hoarding portrays the worst side of cat/pet ownership. Hoarding stories are well documented these days, thanks to reality television. Family members and counselors intervene in households where the subjects and their pets are living in squalor. They believe that their animals are well cared for and though they may be overwhelmed by their surroundings, they have difficulty coping and making the leap toward a normal lifestyle.

After watching the show for just 10 minutes, your impulse is to run and scoop all of your cats’ litter boxes, but you can’t take your eyes away from the television because it’s like watching a car wreck. And like a car wreck, there’s not always a happy ending since victims don’t always follow through on therapists’ recommendations and their families’ wishes.

A few months ago, I spoke with a hoarder at length and learned that a variety of factors create a perfect storm for hoarding: relationships gone bad, a desire to help animals but a lack of resources to care for them, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

 Animal Planet is pretty good at rerunning its programs so if you’ve missed any of them, they’re sure to be televised again. Video clips are also on the Animal Planet web site.

About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

5 Responses to Shows aimed at cat lovers entertain, educate

  1. amyshojai says:

    This is an excellent round up of the various cat-centric programs. I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing all, but the descriptions are spot-on for those I have seen. Kudos…makes me want to invest in Tivo!

  2. nekoscribe says:

    I wish there were more positive reality shows featuring cats. Instead of cat hoarders, follow the joys and trials of a family that adopts a rescue cat. A first-time cat owner might make an enjoyable journey, while hopefully also educating the public. There is a show premiering on National Geographic Channel July 30 called “The Lady with 700 Cats,” which sounds great but is not a series, unfortunately.

  3. Ingrid King says:

    I’m just happy to see that there are more cat shows. Of the ones you mentioned, My Cat From Hell is my paws down favorite, followed closely by Must Love Cats. Let’s keep telling Animal Planet how much we love their catcentric programming so they keep renewing these shows and/or introduce new ones!

  4. Pingback: Monday Mentions: Cat Art, Dog Sperm Detectors & PhD Sheep « Amy Shojai's Blog

  5. Pingback: CatsWalk Newsletter July 2011 | Little Big Cat

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