Horizon: The Secret Life of the Cat

“Cats are mysterious kind of folk – there is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.”

Sir Walter Scott

I would like to point out, before everyone judges me, that this was not my idea.

I wanted to watch Star Wars.

Instead, we had to watch The Secret Life of the Cat, which is, yes, a documentary about cats. More specifically, What Cats Do When You’re Not Looking!

And while I love cats dearly, there was something vaguely hilarious, not to say slightly unhinged, about the whole programme. Because they’re cats, right? Ordinary domestic moggies, going about their catty business. Who, really, cares that much about what they do when you’re not looking? Who wants to know?

Well, apparently, there’s this bunch of totally sane people known as – and I am not making this up – cat scientists.

Yep. That’s an actual thing, apparently.

So the cat scientists go to a village out in the sticks somewhere and recruit fifty cats. “There are lots of different classes of people here, so there are probably lots of classes of cats,” says a Cat Scientist. What? Classes of cats? Are you saying there are upper class cats and lower class cats and social climber cats?

(That’s quite an amusing thought, actually.)

All the cats have GPS trackers – modified versions of the ones they use on the Serengeti, no less – fitted to their collars, and some even have cat cameras. Although the latter are actually less revealing than they sound (apart from showing just how tall and scary a human is from a cat perspective) because every time something exciting threatens to happen they are either blocked by an inconvenient paw or blurred by the rapid movement of the cat as it runs away from/attacks another cat. Or they just fall off.

Anyway, this goes on for a week, and at the end of it we find out one new thing: cats who live near other cats have a shift system on their territory so they don’t have to talk to each other. So when Cat A is Out Cat B is In, and vice versa. Isn’t that clever?

Not a lot to show for a week, though, I feel. Everything else basically confirms what every cat-owner already suspects: cats eat other cats’ food, have arguments with each other, go for devious and convoluted walks in order to find birds’ nests, and manipulate their humans into feeding them. Unless there’s a catty conspiracy of silence going on somewhere, cats, it turns out, don’t have secret lives. They just care less about what people think of them.

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