Orange Tabby Cat Stars in Major New Film and Raises Profile of Domestic Cats

Ulysses, the ginger tabby cat who is a co-star of the new Coen brothers film about music is in fact three cats. I didn’t realise that but I do know that he is a key player in this acclaimed film, which, I believe, raises the profile of all domestic cats. It makes all domestic cats a star and I sincerely hope that Ulysses encourages cat owners to see their cat in a new, more appreciative and respectful light. The film is “Inside Llewyn Davies”.

I am delighted to see a cat, and an “ordinary” moggie at that, feature as a central actor in this film which was awarded Best Picture by The National Society of Film Critics and has been nominated for many other awards.

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Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I said Ulysses is a co-star. I may be wrong. Some say Ulysses is the star of the film. He is a scene stealer. He is seen riding the New York subway. That took some doing and you could argue that it was an abuse to make a cat do that in the name of entertainment. I’d rather not go down that road at this time because I feel there are many positives for the cat to take from this film.

The reason why three ginger tabbies were employed was because the role was too demanding for one cat. In the subway scenes two cats were employed. “Jerry” described as “an action cat” and “Daryl” who was the laid back boy who was able to cope with the noise and disturbances of the subway. There are very few cats who would cope with a subway in full use. However, ginger cats are renown for their balanced temperaments. I wonder if a ginger tabby was deliberately chosen for this reason. I’d like to know the reason for choosing this type of cat. Was the idea taken from Bob the orange tabby who befriended a drug addict and saved him?

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The third cat was Tigger, a female. She was the cat who was usually held by the actor Oscar Issac. The film makers called her the “holding cat”.

Five cats in all were chosen but two proved unsuited and were not employed. A Hollywood animal trainer, Dawn Barkan, prepared them for the role. She was concerned about the subway scenes. Saying that:

“Much of what was scripted is a scary thing for a cat”.

She said it was not a good idea to shoot a live subway scene. She was right but it went ahead.

“The film doesn’t really have a plot. That concerned us at one point. That’s why we threw the cat in”. (Coen brothers, the film’s directors)

Well, as a cat lover, I have to see the negatives too. Was it ethically acceptable to put cats through difficult circumstances for a commercial enterprise?

I’ll stick out my neck and say that, on this occasion, yes it was, because the film portrays the cat in a good light, which I hope rubs off on society and raises the profile of the world’s best loved companion animal, which sadly is still frequently ill-treated.

How does this film square up with Grumpy Cat being in a film? Well, I see a difference. All three cats in this film are healthy and playing a normal role. Grumpy Cat is being exploited (I say) because of facial deformities. It is a fine line but there is a line.

  1. P.S. Cat actors are paid less than dog actors. Typical. Cat actors earn £100-£200 a day.
  2. Associated: Cat People movie

20 thoughts on “Orange Tabby Cat Stars in Major New Film and Raises Profile of Domestic Cats”

  1. I do see all points. I can see that the cat has his toes splayed ready to grab onto something because he is scared 🙁 I can also see Michaels point that in a world where the cat receives a lot of bad press its good to see them in a positive light

    Reply
  2. I’m on the fence, for now. I’d like to at least watch the movie. It may soften some hearts out there, and like Michael said, encourage some adoptions out there. Beautiful cat(s).

    Reply
    • Great Marc. I am pleased you have the film. i watched the trailer, read an article about Ulysses and saw a review on television but watching the whole film will help to get a full perspective.

      I sense the film is a “realist” type film. A slice of real life from an era in American history. The human star is a talented singer/writer as I understand it but he is a commercial failure but that is not unusual in the music business and does not signify the person is a failure . I hope that fact does make the point that failures keep cats.

      The film may hint at the point that some cat caretakers and lovers are outsiders meaning they don’t really fit in with mainstream society.

      Reply
  3. My thoughts on cats being “used” as actors are these.

    If the world of cats was 100% good with no unwanted cats and all cats were in good homes then it might not be possible to justify using cats as actors because it is for our benefit. However, if actor cats enjoy it and are treated nicely etc. then it could be justified.

    As the world of cats is far from ideal and there is lots of work to be done to improve the situation, then the imperfect idea of cat actors is justified if it makes a positive difference in the long term to cat welfare but only if the actor cats are well treated at all times.

    Reply

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