Cat Documentaries

Review: Pet Fooled

If you pay any attention to pet food labels (and you should), you know what a mix of information and hyperbole they are. Even the most diligent consumers can quickly become overwhelmed by the maze of misinformation that's put out there by the big pet food brands. Add in the fact that most of these are owned and operated by just a handful of huge conglomerates and you have a real mess.

Pet Fooled is a documentary that challenges the status quo and tells it like it is. No matter how many pretty pictures of happy animals they put on their packages, most pet food companies are selling garbage and telling us that it's the best thing to feed our furry family members. In essence, they're lying to all of us, and it's high time they were called on it.

That's not to say that all pet food is bad. It isn't. There are some conscientious companies out there (see THIS POST for our top recommendations and links to some great resources). If there's a shortcoming to this documentary, it's that not enough good alternatives are specified. That's a minor nit, but a genuine cause for concern when you've spent the bulk of your short 70 minute running time telling us just how bad the situation is. Most consumers want to know what their best options are in spite of the misleading pet food manufacturers' claims.

The film, written and directed by Kohl Harrington, is well produced and features veterinary noteworthies Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Barbara Royal, along with activist Susan Thixton of truthaboutpetfood.com and others. They all have very important insights into the pet food industry and I feel it's important for more people to hear them. The only way commercial pet foods will change is if people change their buying habits.

Pet Fooled is a fantastic first step for many consumers. It's that first ray of light in the darkness. The second step is up to you. Do your research and pick the best foods you can afford. After all, your feline friends are depending on you!

Review: The Lion in Your Living Room

There are lots of documentaries about cats but there are very few that truly focus on what we know, and don't know, about our feline companions.  The Lion in your Living Room is one of the best.  If I had to give someone a crash course on cats in less than an hour, this is what I'd show them.

The 50 minute show, recently added to Netflix, covers a lot of territory in a short time.  The documentary begins with basic cat physiology and also covers dietary needs, communication skills, and territoriality.  There's also a very good section on the evolution of the domestic cat and the ways in which the species became companions to humans.

If there is an omission, it's the lack of a clear argument for the trap-neuter-return (TNR) solution to feral cat overpopulation.  It's mentioned briefly, but there's nothing about ear-tipping spayed and neutered ferals.  While I understand that this isn't the primary focus of the show, it's important to communicate this symbol to the public at large so that they know these ear-tipped ferals have been "fixed".

What's most impressive about the show is the way in which it illustrates how cats view our world.  It's probably the most important insight a cat caregiver can have.  While not all cats behave the same, they all share perceptive abilities and biological needs that are quite different from our own.  The better we understand these differences, the better we'll be at fulfilling the needs of our furry housemates.

The Lion in Your Living Room was written, directed, and produced by Daniel and Donna Zuckerbrot for their Reel Time Images Productions and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2015.  It's exceptionally well shot and edited and it contains a wealth of valuable information in an entertaining package.  Very highly recommended!