Monday, October 10, 2011

Cat Ladies: (Clinically) Mad about cats

The image of the typical cat lady is a portrait of severe mental disturbance, often used comedically like in “The Simpsons,” where Springfield’s unshowered feline connoisseur leaps into action, using kittens as throwing stars as she clears the room with her garbled ranting. Of course, there’s a dark side to this lifestyle, a portrayal offered a brief but harrowing spotlight in the spellbinding documentary “Cat Ladies.”

In this documentary we are introduced to four women who have an obsession with feline ownership. For Margot, three cats is her limit, showering the felines with love and attention while her personal life turns to stone. Troubled Jenny is a quick-witted 35-year-old single lady who depends on her 16 cats for comfort, pushing her dangerously close to the “crazy cat lady” brand she fears. Diane once had a potent personal life, but a disruption of her career led her to seek out stray cats, with over 100 felines taking up residence in her home. Sigi has the same hording problem as Diane, only she views the mass cat population as caped heroism, trapping feral cats to feed her God complex, imagining herself as the only savior these little furry creatures have.

These are passionate women feeling comfortable enough to allow cameras to capture their shame, bringing the viewer into these hot zones of kitten play. It’s easy to be horrified by these women, and to mock their litter-box-lined lifestyle.

“Cat Ladies” is not a cheap joke. It’s a touching, unforgettable decent into various degrees of mental illness and outright loneliness, looking to probe cat fascination beyond the tempting cliches.

Swallow the pill

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