Would you invite a wild animal into your living room? There may be one eyeing you with inscrutable golden eyes right now.
The Lion in Your Living Room casts new light on how our feline friends perceive the world. From the latest genetic research, to the physics of the cats’ tongue, these most popular of pets are revealed, as you have never seen them before. We travel from North America, to Europe and the Mid-East in order to uncover new insights into this familiar, yet most mysterious animal.
This program will surprise you with the beauty of the cats’ graceful movements, revealed in extraordinary close ups and extreme slow motion. The latest technologies help us answer the age-old question: “Where do cats go when they slink out of the house”? Do they travel far or stay close to home? Perhaps you can sympathize with the surprised cat owner who discovers that his cat has another home in the same neighbourhood, and another family who feel that this is their cat.
Just how much is the domestic cat different from its wild relative? Listen to The Taming of the Cat on Quirks and Quarks online.
Perhaps more than any other animal, cats have a special mystique; they are surrounded by superstition, myth, and of course questions. Do cats really always land on their feet? Are they colour blind? How good is their sense of smell or hearing compared to dogs? Do they hunt and kill just for fun? Are they even domestic animals, or just wild animals that can tolerate people? Does my cat love me back? And when it comes to cat myths and folklore, surprisingly some of them are firmly rooted in the truth – some aren’t. With the help of cat veterinarians Koharik Arman and Kelly St. Denis, as well as biologist and author John Bradshaw, we answer these questions and unravel some of these longstanding mysteries.
We discover that the cats’ elegant walk may end up being less efficient than the gait of some goofy dog. But what it lacks in efficiency it makes up in other attributes. Powerful, little animals they’re capable of jumping five times their height – imagine what that would mean in the next Olympics if a two metre tall high jumper leapt ten metres into the air. And not only do they (almost) always land on their feet, there are documented cases of cats falling many stories and walking away virtually unscathed. The way they do this is astonishing.
They can be found in almost every part of the globe from jungle to desert and of course in our cities. Until recently it was believed that various wild cats gave rise to different breeds of domestic cat. Recent DNA analysis by Professor Carlos Driscoll and his colleagues have shown that in fact, all domestic cats, whatever their breed and wherever they live, are descended from one single subspecies of wildcat.
We accompany Driscoll to Israel and the spots where he believes cats first became domesticated around 10,000 years ago in the first human settlements. Once they were domesticated they spread quickly and in surprising ways. Why after all should the concentration of orange cats line up with Viking trade routes?
It’s usually been assumed that we domesticated cats in order to protect our grain from mice and rats but Driscoll presents a much more surprising story of their journey from wild forest hunter, to the urban kitty that might be purring away on your lap.
"People love cats. I don’t think people know why, they just do."
Donna Zuckerbrot, director, The Lion in Your Living Room
And what’s that purring about anyway? Most of us have always believed that it means a cat is happy – a kind of feline smile. It ends up that it can mean much more than that. Professor Karen McComb at the University of Sussex thinks cats not only communicate through, but actually manipulate us with, the sounds they make. Dr. McComb shows us how she determined that some cats have learned to modify their purring, adding in the same frequencies as the cries of a human baby. No wonder they can be hard to ignore.
Cat’s have been part of human life since our ancestors first built permanent settlements, began writing, making pottery and practicing agriculture. They’ve travelled with us to every part of the world. They’ve lived on our ships and in our cities, sharing our shanties and our palaces. And in all that time they’ve remained very territorial, hunters, living with us on their own terms.
In recent years we’ve come to expect them to live in our apartments, tolerate other animals, stay inside and give up hunting. Are those changes we really want to see? What will they be like if they’re able to change so radically? Will they still have the qualities that have made them the most popular pets in the world?
produced, directed and written by
director of photography
location manager - Israel
colourist / online editor
animation director / illustrator
Richard Hanet, Lewis Birnberg Hanet, LLP
Richard Warburton, Kay & Warburton
Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc.
Gila Kahila Bar-Gal
Mario & Theresa D'Alfonso
The De Meo Family
Gillian & Lance Dutchak
Heather & Chantell Hill
Richmond Animal Protection Society
First Base Solutions Inc.
Yathin S Krishnappa
Tommy Hemmert Olesen
produced with the participation of
Canada Media Fund
The Canadian Film or
Video Production Tax Credit
with the assistance of the Government of Ontario –
The Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit
produced in association with
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
a Reel Time Images production
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NEW SERIES: Follow our team online as we work on a new series, Wild Canadian Year , debuting in October 2017.
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