September 20, 2008

DVD Review: Here, Kitty Kitty

I must say that this documentary is a pretty interesting piece of work. At its center is a 2005 proposal in Wisconsin that sought to reclassify feral cats as an unprotected species, allowing them to be shot on sight. It is the sort of question that gets national attention due to its "what the heck?" logic, or lack thereof. Obviously, this matter brings out many opinions and can get very heated on both sides. What makes this documentary work is the fact that it does not take the incendiary approach. It looks at both sides of the issue and the interesting characters that populate them.

When it comes to pets, I have to admit to being more of a cat person than anything else. I have had both dogs and cats in the house for most of my life, although it tended to be the cats that I preferred. However, when it comes right down to it, I would take no pets over pets. I have nothing against them, and they can be a real mood lifter and provide hours of entertainment. I just don't want to take care of them, yes, I am lazy. I would never neglect a pet, just prefer not to have one. That said, the idea of hunting cats, or just taking shots at them when they appear on my property, makes me feel a little sick to the stomach. For that matter, the idea of shooting any living thing does not sit that well with me. Obviously, I am not a hunter.

Here, Kitty Kitty barely passes the hour mark in length. That may sound short, but it is not always the length that matters, it is how you use it. Director Andy Beversdorf does a fine job within that time, hitting all the major points while allowing humor to permeate the proceedings, making it an easy watch that will keep you involved to the end.

Something that I found particularly interesting is that the film does not really take sides here. Considering the thought of killing cats, I found it a logical assumption that the film would take a clear stance letting the audience know exactly where the makers allegiances lay. I was sure I was going to walk into a wall of pro-kitty propaganda, or at least a film maker who is a fan of the felines. Not to say I expected the film to be one-sided, but surely it was going to take a stand. I was glad to be wrong on that count.

The film takes us inside the community hearings, where cat lovers said their piece, cat haters said their piece, wash, rinse, repeat. It was amusing to hear what they had to say, even when it had nothing to do with the matter at hand, introducing the idea of people torturing kittens, which is not exactly the issue.

Scientific, accurate or not, depending on who's talking, data is presented that would seem to support the idea of regular cat hunts. It was determined approximately how many stray/wild/feral cats live in rural Wisconsin, it was then extrapolated to show how many birds were killed annually by said cats. This was seen as detrimental to Wisconsin, with killing cats seen as the best way to preserve their bird community.

Over the course of the hour we meet characters that range from a man who apologetically traps and drowns cats, an organization that runs, as well as groups that have so-called spayathons, where vets donate their time to spay and neuter feral cats before they are either returned to where they were found or sent to live on farms. All points of view are examined, and I was left with the thought that randomly killing these cats would be a very silly thing to do, but that something does need to be done to address all of the cats.

Quite frankly, I was surprised at just how many cats they had running around out there. I can see how some would consider them a nuisance. Still, I cannot advocate the wholesale slaughter of cats.

Audio/Video. This is not a big budget affair, and the tech quality reflects that. However, the mediocre quality does not detract from the film, so do not judge it based on this fact. It is not bad by any stretch, and the quality material makes up for any technical deficiency.

Extras. The extras are comprised of deleted scenes that total somewhere in the vicinity of 45-50 minutes. Among these scenes is 14 minutes of additional footage from the hearings, as well as a history through ballistics. Some would have been fine had they been left in the feature, while a few were cut for obvious reasons once you see them.

Bottomline. This is an entertaining and informative documentary that takes a look at an issue that garnered national attention due to its incendiary nature. It is well made and contains plenty of information to help the viewer make their own decision. Definitely worth your time.


The DVD will be available through Prolofeed Studios.


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