Ze Frank is the Genius behind the Dear Diary Videos

This is one of Ze Frank’s super videos: Sad Cat Diary. It is about the differences in behavior and attitude between domestic cat and human presented in an incredibly clever and amusing way. Mr Frank works at a very senior level for BuzzFeed, a major internet website. He has many talents: composer, online performance artist, humorist and public speaker. He is based in Los Angeles, California, USA.

There is a certain amount of science or at least very good cat behavior knowledge (although not always correct) behind the outstanding amusement that the video provides. The opening statement in the video is about an item of clothing removed by the cat’s owner from the couch which was an ideal bed to sleep on for the cat and he can’t fathom why it was removed. It was an ideal item to sleep on because it contained the scent of the owner.

A domestic cat receives reassurances from that scent. It is very pleasant for a cat to wallow in the scent of his/her human companion. As for the computer keyboard, cats do like to lie on keyboards sometimes although less so than for items of clothing. This is mainly for warmth if no one is using the computer, but when it has been used recently. And/or the purpose is to be near his human companion if he happens to be on the darn computer. Both are excellent reasons to chose a computer keyboard as the far as the cat is concerned.

The half full food bowl is an interesting observation by Ze Frank. Cats not uncommonly leave the bowl half full and consider it empty. This is probably to do with poor near vision and perhaps the smell of the food diminishes once the jelly has been licked off! Therefore they seek more and when more is not forthcoming they can’t understand hence the joke in Frank’s delivery in the video. By the way the cat – a chinchilla Persian it seems – has an overshot lower jaw given to her through disastrous breeding practices (inbreeding). Just another observation but one which Mr Frank failed to pick out.

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

The stroking with one hand joke is interesting too. It is actually incorrect because stroking a cat is mimicking a cat licking another cat and that can only be done, strictly speaking, with one hand. Therefore a cat would not object to it!

Perhaps the funniest passage in the video is about rubbing a cat’s belly. We know that cats like this but only to a point because beyond a certain point it provokes play in the cat which can lead to gentle biting which can further lead to more aggressive biting, all of which is in play but the video exactly matches cat behaviour in this respect.

The door to a house or apartment that leads to the outside is a mystery to a cat – they don’t exist in nature. If there is no catflap (cat door) then when the door is opened to let the cat out he may spend some time deciding what to do. This may partly be because outside there are some unknowns and some dangers whereas inside the cat knows that he is secure. For a while this uncertainty leads to prevarication as stated in the video.

The crapping on the living room floor is not a good observation to be honest. Cats very infrequently do this and if so it is normally about stress as it is a form of marking behaviour which is reassuring to a cat and which reduces stress. Distributing the cat litter on the floor is a reference, I think, to tracking cat litter from the cat litter tray.

When the commentary refers to a squirrel tormenting a cat leading to the cat grooming himself for four, hours this has some truth in it, of course. Cats like to groom themselves partly as a de-stressor. It is a pleasant experience for a cat. Sometimes cats, as we know, over-groom themselves to the point where they remove the fur in certain parts of their body creating bald patches usually in easy-to-reach places such as the lower belly.

We have all seen our cat look at a wall inside the home with great interest. We can’t see anything on the wall but the cat can. Perhaps there is something on the wall but it is very small indeed. I don’t think a cat, however, would confuse a thumb tack with an insect. Cats have fantastic acuity in picking up movement (due to hunting skills). If the object does not move a cat won’t be interested but perhaps other people have had a different experience.

In the scene where the commentary refers to being locked out of the bedroom, the cat in the video is in fact a wild cat species: the sand cat. The sand cat looks very much like a domestic cat but it is definitely not. It is as wild as any wild cat species. This is a mistake in the video. The reference to being locked out is interesting because a lot of people lock their cats out of the bedroom at night. The cat probably gets used to it but initially he’d be quite surprised and perhaps distressed because the bedroom is a great place for a cat when their human companion is in the bed and even when they are not. There’s plenty of human scent together with warmth.

Once again, because a cat’s life somewhat revolves around their sense of smell and our scent, when we go to the toilet they sometimes like to join us. Humans are embarrassed about toilet habits and smells etc. but cats are quite the opposite. They like to be around scent. It is probably reassures them in this instance as well.

As for the reference to destroying indoor plants, I have never experienced this. But cats do like to play within inside large plants. Perhaps the best example is at Christmas when we install a Christmas tree. Cats like to climb up sometimes or mess around inside it. This must be for the simple reason that it is a bit of vegetation; a natural piece of the outdoor environment which a cat very much likes. If a plant that they have destroyed is replaced it should please a cat rather than upset him so I think Mr Frank has this wrong slightly but nonetheless this is highly amusing video which I enjoyed tremendously.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

6 thoughts on “Ze Frank is the Genius behind the Dear Diary Videos”

  1. Diane Ricciardi Stewart

    Michael, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this video! All of his videos are quite clever — and quite funny as well. I am always ROFLMAO when I watch them. The **Dear Kitten* ones are superb too. Your views about the video are great as well. Until your post about Mr. Frank, I did not know who the actual person was behind the videos. Thank you for the info, as now these videos will have an even greater meaning! ♥♥♥

  2. “I must sing the song of my people” is such a way of life here until I open the door and let them in out of sheer desperation to sleep.
    I’m certain that they feel deprived when I haven’t succumbed to their every demand for more food after they have just eaten.
    I love this guy.

    1. I think that one of the great things that he captures is the fact that we are different species who can live together harmoniously and to mutual benefit. But there is that underlying difference between us which needs to be respected. Sometimes people don’t quite respect the cat as a cat and try and treat them as small fluffy humans or something like that.

  3. Perhaps a genius; but, for certain he is in tuned with felines and behaviors.
    I have watched this video many times and am always amazed by Ze Frank’s capture of cat and dog thought processes.

    1. And I love his delivery. He’s a very intelligent person quite obviously and he does understand cats although, as mentioned, there are one or two flaws in that regard in the video in my opinion. These do not detract from the video which is excellent and highly amusing. I think he has a great sensitivity towards animals. You can hear it in his voice I believe.

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