Review: The litter traits of feline friends exposed
Apropos of not a lot, this small corner turns glossy for a nanosecond with a list of its own that infallibly categorises every one of us. (Space does not allow the normal tabular layout, with lots of creative white space.) Either you do or don't read Shirley Conran / eat chicken biryani / approve of Wales / do press-ups / worship a god / nod off watching Arsenal / take the Independent / fondly remember Spandau Ballet / loathe cats.
And there's the rub: if you don't regard 'feline' and 'friend' as two words that were just made for each other, then you won't have been watching 'It's A Cat's Life', a film for Short Stories (C4). You missed a treat. In Britain there are six million cats, which, in case you didn't know, means these islands contain twice as many cats as Welsh people. Not all of them are owned by those who fall into the 'I adore cats' category. One female moggy is responsible for 20,000 offspring in five years, with the result that 200,000 are made homeless every year.
These statistics issue from the Cats Protection League, the subject of this documentary. When a bunch of people call themselves a league, usually their motives are either impeccable (the League against Cruel Sports) or very peccable indeed (the Premier League). The cats' league seems to mean well, providing board and lodging for cats suddenly deprived of both, but their methods are sometimes iron-fisted in the way that only the morally convinced can be.
One London branch of the league answered a call-out about a woman who locked her cat in an outdoor rabbit hutch at night - presumably the owner calculated that here was the one place where her cat wouldn't breed like a rabbit. The owner had been shopped by someone else in the block of flats and in the ensuing melee it dawned that this was that rare curio, a natural history programme that was actually about Homo sapiens.
Observe, for instance, from the previous scene, in which the cat-owner opening her front door is not asked if she wanted to be filmed, how primitive our concept of privacy still is. Note, from other footage, how when communicating with cats the human voice can go up higher than Callas ever got in Tosca. Further research demonstrated that some owners who are forced to expel their cats say things like 'Oi dint really want to get rid of 'er, loike' and wear T-shirts bearing the slogan 'I'm Too Sexy For My . . .' (punchline mercifully tucked inside trousers).
One day someone will make the definitive series about cats - Martyn Lewis, perhaps, the good-news heavyweight who's already done the book - but Short Stories is not the place. If BBC2 hadn't got there first with its own, longer version, Channel 4 could have called the strand 27 Minutes, because it operates on the same rambling remit. 'Let's go find some quirkiness,' you can see them enthusing every Monday morning, as they commission another production company to tail a tinker, a tailor or a candlestick maker. Such programmes work on the rule that if you point a camera at the most innocuous of nobodies for long enough, their individuality will out. And generally, the rule holds true. It did here.
Secretly, this was yet another programme about the recession, because cats are often the first economy measure in cash-strapped homes. Openly, Public Eye (BBC 2) was yet another programme about child abuse, a subject that seems incapable of going away. This time the context was divorce, and the growing tendency of some spouses to allege child abuse solely as a device for gaining custody. The programme used actors, who usually bring a layer of artifice to the proceedings, but not this time. If this is the way some people treat each other, then even the most wretched of cats have it easy.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 3 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Britain's Hardest Grafter: Petition set up as Twitter reacts to BBC 'poverty porn' series pitting low-paid workers against each other
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
ASAP Rocky gives nauseating response to explicit Rita Ora rap: 'I'm not saying she's a terrible person'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'