Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘American Cats: The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly’

Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘American Cats: The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly’

, From puRRducers Monkey Noodle and Pixie Pie with CinePAWtography from such felines as Mau Mau comes American Cats: The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly.  A ‘Daily Show’ style documentary, from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee correspondent Amy Hoggart, this film is a full investigation into the practice of declawing.  

Hoggart follows the trail of this procedure, from the history of when it started until now, where some vets and public representatives are working tirelessly to get declawing banned.  Dr. Jennifer Conrad, founder of the PAW Project, is the loudest voice here and no doubt that her passion for cats has brought about great change for many.  

In my day job, I am actually a practicing veterinarian. I’m just as biased watching this film as the filmmakers are in making it. Do I believe in declawing? No. And I believe with proper client education there is no need.  If vets in the U.S. are still declawing en masse, and especially if they are still using the outdated methods discussed in this film, they need to quickly change. However, the broad generalizations they paint veterinarians with in this film are unnecessary and some of the conclusions made about our profession are shortsighted.  

This documentary serves as great education for cat owners who are perhaps unaware of what declawing can do and how integral claws are to the way felines interact with their environment. I do wish it further examined how our treatment of animals reflects on society in general.  The film has lots of cute cat images to enjoy and lighthearted banter as one might expect from Hoggart.  However, American Cats chooses to look at extremes in order to make its point, rarely focusing on the vast majority of veterinarians who, personally, are trying to help animals, not maim them.  

This post was written by
Hillary is a Toronto based writer, though her heart often lives in her former home of London, England. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, though it was seeing Jurassic Park as a kid that really made it a passion. She has been writing about film since 2010 logging plenty of reviews and interviews since then, especially around festival season. She has previously covered the London Film Festival, TIFF (where she can often be found frantically running between venues) and most recently Sundance (from her couch). She is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. When she’s not watching films or writing about them, she can be found at her day job as a veterinarian. Critic and vet is an odd combination, but it sure is a great conversation starter at an interview or festival!
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