Les Français et Leur Chats

We never hear from the French about their cats. Why is that? France is a black hole for stories about the domestic cat. Yet, the French do have cat companions. They must have¹. Do we ever see them? Do we see feral cats in Paris? No. We might see the odd cat on a leash². S’il vous plait, talk to me about votre chat Français.

Peut-étre (perhaps) the French just don’t like speaking English. Or writing English. Or anything to do with the English language because Français est meilleur, n’est pas? (French is better, isn’t it?).

And the language of the internet is pretty much English or Chinese….As the Chinese are not known for their domestic cats I have to say that English is the language of cats. Particularly so as Americans speak English or a slightly different version of it.

Henri the famous philosophical cat

Henri the famous philosophical cat. Still from video.

Why do I have an interest in the French chat (cat) today? Well, the winning entry, the Palme d’Or, at the world’s first ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival was “Henri 2: Paw de Deux”. The festival took place at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, USA.

The star of the video is the philosophical tuxedo (black and white) cat, Henri, who thinks in French. He is a bit introverted but very intelligent.

The film maker is Will Braden, an American. Henri is also American. And Will does not speak French. But his mum does. I guess they wrote the script together. I had thought that Will Braden was Canadian because his accent is like an American speaking French – which it is. And Will does a great job with his script and the accent is perfect for the video.

The theme of Will’s videos is based on the style of the typical low budget French movie. The French nearly always make “art movies” for themselves. Rarely do they make big budget popular films for the world. Their films are a bit arty and philosophical in style. They must be great companions to their cats because intelligent people like cats. I like French films, by the way, and many are in fact very popular internationally despite being “arty”. There are many very cosy small cinemas in Paris. It is certainly very different to American cinema.

Did you know that Henri (real name “Henry”) does not live with Will Braden? His true human companion is a secret. Henri is a really nice cat and far from a secret.


Note:

  1. There are 9.6 million domestic cats in France, more than the British at 7.7 million at 2007. (source: The Welfare of Cats page 49.).
  2. I lived in Paris for 2 years in the late 1970s and remember seeing a cat on a leash. Very enlightened. Great to see.
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Les Français et Leur Chats — 7 Comments

  1. Braden now makes his living from Henri, le Chat Noir. He sells $1,000 worth of tshirts and mugs each week, and a book of Henri’s philosophizing is set to be published by Random House.

    By the way, did anybody see the video response to that video? It’s about a lady cat, also in French, and she is in love with Henri. It’s called ‘Henri Le Chat Noir, Love Anais Mittins’
    And Henri made a second video called ‘Le Vet’. All are great. I love them.

    Apparently famous cats have agents. Keyboard cat does. So does Nyan Cat even though he is virtual.

    • Hi Marc, if you get a hit like Henri and Nyan you can make a living from it for a while. But they are very much temporary things. Although Simon’s Cat does well on an ongoing basis. It is difficult working alone to make decent money on the internet.

      I haven’t see the video response.

  2. By the way Michael, my friends older sister lived in Paris in the early 80’s and used to walk her tabby cat on a leash. She had been doing it for years. Maybe you saw the same lady. I think she was in her 50’s in about 1990 but I will have to check on that. I’ll ask him for what details he can remember. There can’t have been too many ladies in Paris walking tabbies at that time.

    • Interesting. I was there at about that time. I wonder whether there is a bit more of an acceptance of the idea of a cat on a leash in Paris. There might be. It is very rare to see it in the UK. Hardly anyone does it. I have never seen it in the UK except for an American lady who was visiting and she took her Siamese cat around the garden on a leash. Very cute.

  3. Love that Henri. Love his rather droll philosophy. It’s nice when smartly done videos go viral. I hope they both enjoy some success no matter how fleeting.

    dw

  4. Haha,I know that video,it’s great!I know from times I went to France I’ve seen plenty of cats,don’t remember seeing any in Paris though,but maybe I just didn’t pay attention,I’m sure there are!In fact I remember reading about a guy who lives in Paris and invented a camera for his cat,because he thought it would be fun to see things through the eyes of his cat and to know about his whereabouts!I love watching French movies (with exceptions)but they are not all arty,think about “Taxi” or “Asterix & Obelix”,lol.There is also the American version of Taxi,but it’s a remake of the French,as many times happens with foreign films,I guess because the public doesn’t like to read subtitles.And it’s to hard I guess for French to make a movie in English,as it would be hard for English to make a movie in French.With exception again of a few good actors who know to speak both languages very well.;-)
    I’m also guilty for taking my cat for a walk in the garden on a leash,he is an indoor cat,and he wouldn’t survive if I let him free outside,cats get killed here by stray dogs,or get hit by a car,as what happened to my previous cat.Plus occasionally there are nutcases who throw poison to kill cats and dogs.So I don’t care if there is frowned upon walking a cat on a leash,at least he is safe.:-)

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