The clicker trained cats of Benedict Cumberbatch’s new film

Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy in the film about Louis Wain
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy in the film about Louis Wain
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It is nice to hear that Will Sharpe, the director of Benedict Cumberbatch’s new film, ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ did not use CGI for the cats. Apparently, all the cats in the film are the genuine article, the real deal. The film’s crew used patience and apparently clicker training based on what Benedict Cumberbatch has said in an interview reported in Vanity Fair. Cumberbatch said:

“The minute they get to adolescence, you can kiss a few hours goodbye. It was quite difficult sometimes. One of the ways of Pavlovianly triggering them is just have this clicker, which is tied in with the food reward, so I’d go home in the car and I’d just be still hearing this clicking. We talked about getting a clicker for me.”

His statement implies that the cat trainer on set used a clicker all the time to get the cats to do what the director wanted them to do.

Louis Wain
Louis Wain. Photo in public domain.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Who was Louis William Wain?

About forty cats were employed in the film. Sharpe said that the crew had to be quiet when the cats were on set:

“We had a sort of cat mode, where whenever a cat was brought in to set, we’d need to be very quiet. No sudden movements. No loud noises.”

The Vanity Fair interview reports that Cumberbatch and the crew fell in love with the kittens. A couple of them were rehomed by the co-founder, Adam Ackland, of the production company behind the film, SunnyMarch.

Cumberbatch implied that the kittens were more pliable than the adolescent cats:

“The minute they get to adolescence, you can kiss a few hours goodbye.”

The director said that when you “get something from them, it really it feels like magic, and there are some moments in this film where cats are being cats.”

Louis Wain painting
Louis Wain painting. A classic style for the great man.

Louis Wain was a talented artist and much celebrated in his time and today in this new film. He had a difficult life it seems to me. It is reported that he become schizophrenic but this is disputed. One expert believes that he suffered from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His art changed as he got older but his skill and talent did not. This would not be possible in a schizophrenic person. He spent the last 15 years of his life at a mental hospital in Hertfordshire. There was a colony of cats at the hospital. It had very large grounds.

The Wikipedia authors have scurrilously stated that his schizophrenia may have been trigged by toxoplasmosis caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondhii being transmitted to him via oocysts in cats’ faeces. The author who wrote that is planting misleading information about cats on the internet because they dislike cats. It’s a side point but Wikipedia can be used to disseminate lies. The statement tries to make it a fact that Wain suffered from schizophrenia when it is not fact and them mischievously states that the cats that he loved gave the disease to him. Not good.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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