Episode available within Canada only.

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 Middle East to uncover new insights into this familiar yet 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 different is the domestic cat 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 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, some of them are, surprisingly, firmly rooted in the truth — and 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 a cat lacks in efficiency it makes up in other attributes. Small yet powerful, they’re capable of jumping five times their height — imagine what that would mean in the Olympics if a two-metre-tall high jumper leapt 10 metres into the air. And not only do they (almost) always land on their feet, there are documented cases of cats falling many storeys 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 the 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 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 turns out that it can mean much more than that. Professor Karen McComb at the University of Sussex thinks cats not only communicate through the sounds they make, but actually manipulate us with them. 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.

Cats 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?

Credits (Click to expand)

produced, directed and written by
Daniel Zuckerbrot
Donna Zuckerbrot

Joshua Zuckerbrot

director of photography
Michael Grippo

Katharine Asals

original music
Marvin Dolgay

David Suzuki

additional cinematography
Joshua Zuckerbrot

sound recordists
Mark Barry
Amir Boverman
Ian Challis
Michael Josselyn
Mac Kenny
Peter Lasota

location manager - Israel
Noam Sharon

phantom technician
Marty Carriero

jib operator
Greg Bartels

jib assistant
Ken Woznow

Tim Bewcyk

Greg Falba
Tim Sauder

still photographers
Katharine Asals
Rachel Zuckerbrot

production assistant
Adam Cohen

re-recording mixer
Grant Edmonds

sound editors
Andy Frech
Cait Macintosh

Gabe Knox

narration recording
Chris McLaren

colourist / online editor
Jozef Karoly

animation director / illustrator
Ian Tucker

Jeanette Seah

Andrew Foerster
Steve Otvos

Anton Strasburg

craft services
Rachel Zuckerbrot

legal affairs
Richard Hanet, Lewis Birnberg Hanet, LLP

Richard Warburton, Kay & Warburton

Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc.

special thanks
Gila Kahila Bar-Gal
Gary Beauchamp
Margot Blankier
Amizor Boldo
Joe Brand
Mario & Theresa D'Alfonso
The De Meo Family
Gillian & Lance Dutchak
Ronald Douglas
Rosalynne Gelade
Heather & Chantell Hill
Kathy Jones
Jennifer Modica
Barbara Moore
Glen Patchet
Janet Reed

Pet Uno
Richmond Animal Protection Society

additional visuals
Peter Cairns
Hugh Chisholm
Michelle Deveau
First Base Solutions Inc.
Abigail Fitzgerald
Loraine Fowlow
Helen Haden
Marie-Lynn Hammond
Jessica Kiers
Yathin S Krishnappa
Andrew Macdonald
Karen McComb
Tomasz Mikulski
Tommy Hemmert Olesen
Annette Pasciullo
Glen Patchet
Andrew Pescod

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

senior producer
Caroline Underwood

executive producer
Sue Dando


a Reel Time Images production

executive producers
Daniel Zuckerbrot
Donna Zuckerbrot



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