Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cat Crazed Is Almost Purrfect

We're well into Week One of the mid-seaon TV fare and already this constant viewer wants out.
There are only so many mediocre new series I can sample without deja viewing setting in.
And then along comes this nugget called Cat Crazed, Maureen Palmer's new hour documentary that starts out all cute and cuddly but veers suddenly into more serious fare: the over population of feral cats every which way.
As a kid living summers on Toronto's Wards Island I'd leave scraps out for the feral cats every night and there were hundreds of them living under the cottages and piers.
One day most of them had gone and I was told the authorities had quiet;y "culled" the herd --there were talks of bales of kittens being dumped into the lake.
The smart ones survived and began multiplying again.
And now in my Riverdale home I still leave out snacks for the ferals located in the back lane's wooden garages and storage sheds.
I got my first ever cat that way --a white number named Mustard born in the neighbor's garage. Their little girl presented it to my father one afternoon over the fence and told him if he refused the cute ball of fur would "be electrocuted."
Nothing like a scarey story to get a cat adopted. It worked and I had Mustard for 21 years.
Cat Crazed attracted me from the beginning but I also kept watching for Oscar-nominated animator Cordell Barker's irreverent cartoons on what a cat-dominated world might look like.
Originally scheduled for February, Cat Crazed got moved up in the schedule as the lead documentary on CBC-TV's Doc Zone. But it also comes out just as many families are deciding what exactly to do with that cute ball of fluff they received as a holiday gift now that it is chewing on electrical cords and sharpening its claws on the furniture.
Cat Crazed effortlessly draws us into the world of cats by showing felines in all their glory at New York city's huge Meet The Breeds Show. Finally cats are getting equal treatment with dogs in the areas of pampering. And some rare breeds of cats fetch prices in the thousands of dollars.
Those cats are at the top of the feline pyramid.
At the bottom are the homeless ones who are increasing in numbers to the point they are damaging bird sanctuaries in their fight for food.
We visit Washington where Alley Cat Allies are seen mounting a fierce campaign to sterilize all outdoor cats,
And in Los Angeles Fox Nations sends its volunteers out to prowl every back alley to trap and beuter cats --the alternative is euthanasia.
But we also visit a little old lady who moved to a home beside a bird sanctuary. So many ferals now haunt the swamplands she rarely hears song birds anymore.
Canada's largest no-kill shelter is in Richmond, B.C., and one old cat, Vulcan, has patiently waited for months to get adopted. Why nobodyy wants him gets me --it must be his age.
My favorite scenes are at Parliament Hill where a large band of loafers is glimpsed all over the place (I'm not speaking of Canada's unelected Senators but the feral cats).
So the problem is everywhere and deserves to be confronted. The question of whether to adopt or euthanize has already rocked the foundations of the Toronto Humane Society.
Anyhow, Palmer has held my attention for an hour with her judicious blend of fun and deep seriousness. She directed the program and wrote and produced it with Helen Slinger and mark this one as the first must-see of the mid-season.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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