A purr-fectly informative documentary
Cats are amazing creatures. They’re inquisitive, intelligent and surprisingly social. As someone with 4 cats at home, each has a very different personality and learning more about their behaviour is fascinating. It’s certainly a surprise then to learn that cat research is about 15 years behind that of dog. However, current research has shown that both dogs and cats have pretty similar intelligence levels.
Netflix’s latest documentary film, Inside the Mind of a Cat is exactly what it says on the tin. This doc dives into the mind of a cat, with cat physiologists and scientists discussing why felines are such interesting animals and what makes them so unique.
Across the hour run-time, the film explores the physiology of felines, including their unique skeletal structure, social bonds and answering big questions that may be itching away at cat owners. Do cats know their own name? Do they play favourites? And do cats actually love us?
All of these questions and more are answered across the run-time, broken up by silly cat videos, animated cutaways and a number of talking head interviews alongside seeing cats in their natural environment.
Alongside the science is a brief history lesson of how far back our cat/human bond goes too, with surprising skeletal remains dug up in Cyprus showing exactly how far back this goes. There’s also a showcase of Istanbul’s progressive legislation toward street cats while vilification of cats in the Middle Ages is theorized to have contributed toward the Black Death spreading so fast.
There’s a good amount of information in this documentary, although the final 10 minutes do feel a bit rushed as the film rockets through everything from cat videos to the aforementioned Istanbul street cats. A bit of extra time to explore these areas would have certainly benefited the movie.
Despite this, Inside the Mind of a Cat is a fun, informative and educational look at our feline friends and well worth a watch.
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Verdict - 7.5/10
5 thoughts on “‘Inside The Mind Of A Cat’ Netflix Review – A purr-fectly informative documentary”
Having done classical and operant conditioning as well as desensitization, I agree with Beth’s critique. The film does not explain what it would take to effect these changes. What I appreciated about the film was its very clear and accurate portrayal of the wonderful and often delightful complexity of this species. At one point, my late wife and I had more than 12 cats: Two from the “pound,” two from our daughter because our 3-year-old granddaughter was “loving” them too hard, two that fell into a hollow porch column at 6 weeks from the attic, and the rest from a semi-feral mother who gave birth in a box on our back porch (all neutered, etc.). They each have their own personalities and moods, but are often very affectionate with each other, some very affectionate with us, all almost always nearby. You can begin to read their eyes and cries to some degree, but they don’t have our facial muscles which we use to communicate with a lot of variability. They are far from cold or indifferent even tho they can’t smile.
Mixed review from me. The pluses: The emphasis was on real research, and on the evidence for trainability and affiliative behavior. The people they interviewed were actual experts, as opposed to media personalities (the cat trainers, to me, count as experts as well). They took the subject seriously, as opposed to “Look at how cute, silly, bitchy, aloof cats are,” which we see so often in all media portrayals of cats.
But the two technical subjects they tackled, they got wrong—and it was clear from the way they presented them that the filmmakers did not actually understand what they were presenting.
First was classical (Pavlovian) conditioning. They described it accurately, but then they implied (without much clarity) that this is the kind of conditioning trainers use to train skills. Which, of course, is wrong. And they never mentioned the mechanism at work in actual skills training—operant conditioning.
Second was desensitization. Again, they described it accurately. And again, they got it entirely wrong (again, without much clarity) about how it is used. They set up the explanation of desensitization by asking what you do when you have a serious behavior problem with your cat. So they implied the answer is … desensitization? Which, of course, is wrong.
They interviewed all heavy-hitters for this film, any one of whom could have helped them understand these concepts and how they are used to influence behavior; could have viewed the film or even the script for accuracy before it was released. I am really tired of excusing mass-media for getting things wrong like this, because “at least they tried to do the science.” No no no. If you’re going to present something as “science,” you need to get the science right. They had access to a host of real experts. There’s no excuse.
Hey Barbara, I’m really sorry to hear that. Adverts are generally tailored to each individual, however I can speak to our ad providers and investigate this further. If there are certain brand ads that are more intrusive than others, we can get those added to a list and prevent them from showing at TheReviewGeek in the future. Apologies once again and I’ll be sure to pass this feedback on for you!
Ads, Ads, Ads. I won’t be checking out your reviews due to all the ads especially the flashing ads are so annoying.
Not sure if I can leave this here but I assume the same people that watch this may be interested in a book called Cats Can Love Too. It’s a children’s book on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09YV5VLZW/