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Franny Syufy

Poll: Does Violence to Cats in Movies Turn You Off?

By January 29, 2010

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Email from an old friend: "In the very first scene of the Book of Eli movie, the main character (Denzel) kills a feral cat with an arrow so he can eat it for dinner. He then cooks and eats the cat, feeding a piece of it to a hungry mouse! Now Denzel is supposed to be the main character and you're supposed to root for him, but throughout the whole movie all I could think was "that bastard killed a cat. I can't take this!"

"A few weeks ago, we were watching another movie on tape, "Drag me to hell," and the main character murders her cat as a sacrifice to a demon to save herself. Again, it made me angry not just at the character but at the movie. Yes, it's just a movie, but it really bothers me."

I have to admit that I sometimes watch violent films, including horror movies. But there's enough stomach-turning violence to cats in the real world already. Why pay to watch it on the screen, even though "No animals were harmed in the making of this film?" It's your turn to voice your opinion, by voting in the poll, then posting your comments.

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January 29, 2010 at 6:22 pm
(1) Kat says:

Thank you for exposing this violent scene against cats in the Eli movie. I will not watch this movie, wherever it is broadcast, I certainly will not pay to see this crap. Please post this type of information about any movie that you come across that depicts this type of abominable behavior so people can be forewarned and can avoid supporting these movies with our hard earned cash.

January 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(2) MsCalico says:

The fools that film this garbage are just suggesting to juveniles and others, hateful things that they can do to innocent cats. Sickos have enough bad ideas anyway, they don’t need any instructions. I immediately turn off any show that uses an animal in a cruel manner.

January 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm
(3) Donna says:

I have 6 well loved cats. I am not bothered by movie violence against cats anymore than horses, dogs, wolves, ducks…whatever. Why would you single out a specific animal? You only like and empathise with cats?

Seriously, I don’t get why this is a huge issue. What? Violence against people doesn’t bother you more?

I recommend you stop watching television immediately. I also recommend you worry more about violence against people. But then, that’s just me.

January 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm
(4) Franny Syufy says:

About.com pays me to write about CATS. Not about horses, dogs, wolves, ducks, or people. My readers come here to read about CATS, including you, apparently. So why should you be surprised that this particular blog is about cats?

January 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm
(5) Kim says:

Donna – violence against people also bothers me but that isn’t what this poll is about.

I don’t watch films with any violence but for some reason violence against cats will show up in some ‘harmless’ movies. A cat is electrocuted in Christmas Vacation, for example. I actually heard people laugh during this scene. I don’t get that.

January 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm
(6) AP says:

Why be bothered by fictional violence against cats and not people? People have plenty of advocates to protect them in real life, but cats do not. When people see the hero of a movie killing a cat and eating it, there’s something that normalizes that kind of disrespect and makes it acceptable. “Oh, it’s just a cat he killed; that’s ok,” people will think.

And quite frankly, the thought of a cat dying or being harmed is too painful to watch. Cats are intelligent, regal creatures who deserve our love and respect. Am I biased in favor of cats over other animals? You bet!

January 30, 2010 at 8:35 am
(7) Frank says:

I wince whenever an animal is hurt in a movie: horses, dogs, cats, mice.

However, I am essentially completely desensitized to watching humans being hurt in a movie.

I guess the moviemakers know this, and have to resort to depicting animal violence in movies to get a reaction.

I still watch movies, though.

January 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm
(8) Marissa says:

I personally cant stand violence to any animal but I do have a soft spot for cats (OK I’m completely crazy about them!) so when I see them being hurt in a movie it upsets me and makes me scream at the TV! And hate the movie/TV show.
I guess violence to humans in movies is so common and I’ve never seen a movie where a cat inflicts the violence on the human just the other way around so as bad as it may sound I would much rather see the human get hurt than the innocent animal.
Humans to me can be such evil animals, look at what we do to animals, children the environment etc but what do cats do?

January 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm
(9) Wendy P. says:

Well, in and of itself, killing an animal for food is not cruelty. Making it suffer is.
I haven’t seen the movie, but one sometimes lets one’s emotions get in the way of logic.
For those who eat meat, how is eating a cat or a cow any different, except for a person’s personal feelings about a particular animal?
I love my kitty, but he is a carnivore after all, I think if he would understand that concept…

January 30, 2010 at 11:47 pm
(10) AP says:

We could debate the merits of whether — if the world *really* was ending and you really were starving to death and there really was nothing else on earth to eat — it would be acceptable to eat a cat or a dog. I think I’d rather starve, but that’s not the point here.

This is a movie — a fictional story — and there’s absolutely no reason the writers had to make it a cat that was killed. They didn’t have to do that. They could show us the main character pooping on screen but they don’t do that, because they know the audience would be too shocked to identify with the character. Apparently, they don’t think killing a cat is too shocking for their audience. That’s the problem!

There are a lot of shocking things film-makers could show us on-screen, but they don’t because they know it’s too offensive for their audience. Apparently, killing cats is deemed as NOT offensive for a blockbuster movie with Denzel Washington.

If you see the movie, it’s even worse because the hero does it and he’s seen as a blessed person who is divinely protected by God (is the movie saying God hates cats?). He also cooks the cat and then sees a hungry mouse, feels sorry for it, and feeds it a piece, saying “you’ll like it. It’s cat.” So apparently, he won’t eat mice, just cats!

January 31, 2010 at 9:45 pm
(11) Holly says:

Everyone has good points, but I’m especially with Frank and Marissa. Don’t ask me why violence against animals in movies bothers me more than violence against people. I can’t explain it. That was the one reason I didn’t see “Drag Me To Hell.” I love cats too much. I used to be into rabbits. Imagine how much I regretted seeing “Fatal Attraction.”

February 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm
(12) Sue says:

I can’t watch movies with violence against any animal (or realistic violence against people – I admit something like “Naked Gun” doesn’t bother me since it’s so obviously fake). However, since I have cats, I tend to get the most upset about even the slightest injury to a cat. For example, although I thought “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was terrible anyway because of Micky Rooney’s ludicrous and insulting performance as the Japanese neighbor (Mickey Rooney? REALLY?), I got pretty upset when Audrey Hepburn knocked Cat off the furniture when she was angry, and when she threw him out of the cab in the rain, I was actually yelling at the screen for George Peppard – I think that was him – to stop talking to Hepburn, go get the cat and dump Hepburn forever because she didn’t deserve to have the cat back. I’ve never watched the film again. My friends warn me about excess violence toward people and any violence toward animals in films so I don’t go to see them. Not that I was planning to see “Eli” anyway, since it sounded pretty violent in general from the previews, but thanks for the heads-up.

Oh, and I’ve never watched “Christmas Vacation” again after the first time either. No one warned me about that one.

August 7, 2010 at 1:32 am
(13) tbarber says:

So glad someone made an article about this. Just now, Nexium commercial was on and the guy pushes up his bed because he couldn’t sleep due to his acid reflux, the cat slid off the bed while making that typical cat screeching noise.. and yea cat people, you KNOW how often cats really make that noise. I was so fed up with it so I typed “why cats get hurt or kill in movies” and this website showed up. I’ve watched soo many movies, all types.. comedy, action, horror, romance, indie… they all would rather choose a CAT to get killed rather than a dog or a baby. And you know why that is?!?! it’s because a lot of people out there don’t like cats and they think it’s ok or funny to do that to a cat. Some really violent stuff that is very unnecessary. When was the last time you see a dog or baby get hurt or kill badly? don’t worry, I’ll wait.

August 22, 2010 at 12:53 am
(14) Jackie says:

I find the harming of cats in film, to be a tired cliche. Yes, I know part of it may be that cats sound similar to babies, and that triggers a horror in the sense of something happening to a defenseless creature, but it’s so tired now!

I had rented The Collector from Redbox, then read on the parental advisory section at IMDB, it involves a cat being harmed. I said to myself, “Great, guess I won’t be watching this.”

My concern is my cats can’t tell the difference between a cat in distress, and a cat being in distress but it being fake. I think they might be upset or think my watching something involving harm to animals, mean I would harm them. I know a lot of this, is me projecting my emotions on to them.

I feel, if someone is a great horror film director, they’d be able to leave animals out of the picture. Eli Roth, the director of the Hostel films, has done an ad for PETA. So at least you can be safe in knowing animals won’t be put in harm’s way in his films.

I feel that involving something bad happening to animals in horror film rather boring, it’s not like there’s any psychology to examine like when people are doing bad things to people. Any hack can put an animal in distress in a horror film, it takes brains to write films like Hostel and Saw, where the focus is on the psychology of the killer and their victims.

Also, why is animql violence allowed in PG-13 films? The last thing we need is a teen high on hormones, thinking it would be cool to harm animals. Kids are impressionable at that age. Would I think it’s better that a teenager thinking violence towards people is a good idea? I wouldn’t, but until the death of an animal, holds the same weight as the death of a human baby in our justice system, I think animal harm should be left out of PG-13 horror films.

I also would like to add, I think the MPAA should have to mention as a part of the descriptors under a rating, if there will be a portrayal of harm to a animal ina film. Maybe I should tell PETA to go to work on that.

September 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm
(15) Tara says:

I have to say I feel the same way

I was all ready to watch this movie called “The Last Exorcism” (keep in mind that I do not own a T.V only a computer, and I love horror flicks, and didn’t see the preview to this film.. All I knew it was a horror and that is my type of film)

All ready to watch and paid for ticket when all of a sudden my friend say’s “You might want to cover your eyes when the cat gets beaten to death”.. I got up , grabbed my stuff and said ” I will be at Strand Books.. meet me there when the movie is done”

I cant deal with any animals getting hurt including my baby kitties

October 13, 2010 at 11:32 pm
(16) jeremy says:

i hate movies like that1 my family are very big cat lovers and seeing them kill that cat on The Collector really made me sick! why do that of all things! im ok with seeing a human die but a cat or other animal makes me sick!

November 19, 2010 at 1:53 am
(17) Dinobot says:

Could someone please tell me… was that a real cat that was killed at the beginning of The Book of Eli, or just a special affect? If it was a real cat’ then why is that aloud to happen?

January 1, 2011 at 8:13 pm
(18) Tara says:

I talked to one of the FX guys on that and he said it was a puppet. Most of the guys I know in the industry are animal lovers, and when you look at a company like KNB Effects, those guys can make fake seem very real.
But Eli was a total jerk when it came to cats.

January 7, 2011 at 4:49 am
(19) Jackie says:

I was just about to watch The Last Exorcism, read on IMDB they have a scene where a cat is beaten to death. Why do horror writers hold on to this tired trope, as if it’s worth anything anymore? Do they not know, it might as well be the same as starting the film with a note saying, “This film was written and produced by a talentless hack!”

I feel some people think it’s acceptable to show a cat being harmed, when they are trying to elicit the same feelings one might have towards a baby. Since we have such selfish reverence for our own species, a baby cannot be harmed in a film, so a cat is used as a substitute.

I think PETA, and the movie industry needs to put harm towards Animals as a warning before these films. It is not only disgusting that cats being harmed in films is still used as a, well can I really say a film with a cat being harmed in it has anything close to being called a plot, to use the term plot device?

It’s this simple, good horror film writers, write creative fascinating and disturbing stories without animals being harmed in them. Bad horror film writers, resort to animal harm to substitute for their lack of creative thinking, or to really say to their audience they only slapped together a worthless film for a few bucks.

Also, let it be known that Eli Roth has done an ad with PETA, and so all his films from now on will not resort to the idiocy that is involving defenseless animals in a horror film.

At least I would say that is very likely, that animals would not be harmed in any of his films, given that I have misplaced my crystal ball.

August 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm
(20) reddoberman says:

I can never watch any movie where a cat is injured or killed. It is highly upsetting to me, much like most people would react to a human infant being hurt or killed. Humans being “hurt” or “injured” in movies, I know it is just going to be special effects so it doesn’t bother me. But with animals- particularly cats- I just cannot stand it. It is a shame, too, because I love creepy movies and some horror movies (Blair Witch, etc.) but violence to animals, especially kitties, is so prevalent in these types of films.

January 9, 2014 at 6:38 am
(21) Marcus says:

Franny, This topic should be resurrected. Recently 2 more films have come to my attention; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, and “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Avoid them.

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