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Stream It Or Skip It?

Inside The Mind Of A Cat is a quick (67 minute), family-friendly documentary directed by Andy Mitchell that takes a look at new research that has given behaviorists and cat people new insights into how their little furry friends behave. Through interviews with behavior specialists, pet therapists, and people like the owners of the Savitsky Cats, a trained cat act that made the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent, we see that cats are not the inscrutable, aloof pets that people have come to believe they are.

The Gist: One of the things that the research, which the experts who were interviewed acknowledge has lagged behind dog research by about 15 years, has tried to show is that putting dog-like expectations on cats has been a mistake humans have done for a very long time. Cats do show affection and loyalty, but they’re not there to please their people, like dogs are.

If you’ve ever slow-blinked with your cat, or seen the cat lying belly up right next to you, in one of the most vulnerable positions they can be in, you know that they love and — more importantly — trust you. This film also describes just how cats make different sounds for different reasons, and that they meow at humans because that’s how they get a response.

The documentary also goes over how cats more or less domesticated themselves by killing rodents for the earliest farmers thousands of years ago, and how their wild cat instincts are still a part of them, even if they’re indoor cats. But they’re still trainable, as the Savitzky Cats show, and viewers get a couple of methods that will help train a cat, even one that acts out.

Inside The Mind of a Cat
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Netflix has been on the ball with cat documentaries and docuseries, from Cat People to the Dutch documentary Kitty Love: An Homage To Cats.

Performance Worth Watching: All the cats in this documentary are adorable, but the Savitsky Cats are fascinating to watch, especially Dasha. She can climb and jump from very high spaces, cling to a cable and cross it upside down, and do all sorts of other tricks. We were also rooting for the newest cat, Eddy, to complete the jump-through-the-paper-ring trick.

Memorable Dialogue: Dr. Wailani Sung, a behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA, gets emotional talking about the fact that people realize they have a “deep love with the animal,” which is why people like her can do her research. “We do it for the love of animals. We do it because we recognize the human-animal bond. And I don’t know why I’m crying, stop making me cry!”

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: As relatively-recent first-time cat people, we’ve become fascinated at how our little furballs think and act. So we’ve done all the internet research we could find, subscribed to Jackson Galaxy’s YouTube and watch a ton of cat videos on Instagram and TikTok. Much of the information we saw on Inside The Mind Of Cats, from the behavioral information to the history of humans and cats, can be found in numerous places online. But it’s still a good starter for anyone who wants to own a cat or anyone who already does but wants a little more insight.

The movie is especially useful to watch with your kids, who may still be a little too young to figure out just what a cat is doing when it, for instance, swishes its tail and has its ears to the side. It’s also a good way to show your kids that, hey, maybe Mittens isn’t in the mood to be squeezed while he’s sleeping.

But the movie will also give cat people some pointers on how to train your cat, from clicker training to classic positive reinforcement. What it doesn’t go into are some of the more in-depth issues cat people face, like whether to keep your cats indoors or let them roam outside, harness training (yes, you can walk your cat on a leash if he/she lets you), and other issues. It certainly doesn’t go into the entire history of how cats go to the bathroom inside the house, which has only been for around the last 75 years or so.

As we said, though, it’s a good starting point. But we definitely think queueing up Jackson Galaxy’s YouTube will be a good point to jump to after this movie.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Inside The Mind Of A Cat is a good jumping-off point for prospective cat people or veteran cat people who want to learn some new things about their furry friends. It doesn’t go all that in-depth, but there are plenty of places online for you to get that information. Plus, there’s tons of adorable cats gracing the screen; that by itself is reason to watch.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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