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Kubrick Cats
May 4, 2012 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Despite his austere public image, director Stanley Kubrick was an avid lover of cats. He owned many cats and often brought them on set or into the editing room, where they were fed Evian water in Spode china bowls. Treating his pets with the same attention to detail that was his trademark as a director, Kubrick once handed his family 15 pages of instructions on how to care for his cats while he was away.

In an interview about the making of the Shining, Kubrick speculated that his cat Polly might be psychic:
In addition to the great variety of unexplainable psychic experiences we can all probably recount, I think I can see behaviour in animals which strongly suggests something like ESP. I have a long-haired cat, named Polly, who regularly gets knots in her coat which I have to comb or scissor out. She hates this, and on dozens of occasions while I have been stroking her and thinking that the knots have got bad enough to do something about them, she has suddenly dived under the bed before I have made the slightest move to get a comb or scissors. I have obviously considered the possibility that she can tell when I plan to use the comb because of some special way I feel the knots when I have decided to comb them, but I'm quite sure that isn't how she does it. She almost always has knots, and I stroke her innumerable times every day, but it's only when I have actually decided to do something about them that she ever runs away and hides. Ever since I have become aware of this possibility, I am particularly careful not to feel the knots any differently whether or not I think they need combing. But most of the time she still seems to know the difference.
posted by timsneezed (35 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course he loved cats. He was a man of taste and distinction.
posted by brundlefly at 1:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


If I even THINK about going outside for a walk my dog senses this. There must be some fast-twitch eye pattern I do when I think of walking in parks that my little dude can pick up on.
posted by basicchannel at 1:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


15 pages of instructions on how to care for cats should provide for a number of days of kitty litter substitute.
posted by lstanley at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I suspect it's more that indoor cats have a limited amount of regularly-occuring stimuli to focus their extremely acute senses upon, and they have all of them down cold. My cats, who spend 24 hours a day in our relatively small apartment, know the difference between the sound of our bedroom (the one room in the house they're not allowed into) door closing and not quite closing. They seem to be able to tell the difference between a can of chick peas (which they're not interested in) and a can of tuna (which they are very interested in). Our skittish cat seems to know when I'm just getting off the couch to leave the room or whatever and when I'm getting off the couch to chase her around a bit. The same cat knows the difference between the sound of my wife and/or I walking up the front stairs and the sound of someone else walking up the front stairs. And so on.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


In fairness, all cats require 15 pages of instructions on their care. Kubrick was just conscientious enough to write them all out.

For example, Sylvester - currently standing on the coffee table to the right of the sofa I'm sitting on - needs to be hoisted to face level and have human lips placed against his cheek whiskers with an emphatic MWAH sound at least once and preferably twice daily.
posted by Trurl at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


I own a book called The New Natural Cat, given to me by my grandmother (from whom I have inherited my Crazy Cat Lady genes) and the author of that book also believes cats are psychic. She gives you several tests you can do to prove it. So far, despite repeated attempts, mine have never responded to the tests. I like to think that's just because they want to keep up pretenses.
posted by something something at 1:30 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, your cats (and dogs) have a PHD in You Studies. Mr. Kubrick's cat knew his intentions before he did.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:31 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


The gaze of the typical housecat bears a wee resemblance to some of Kubrick's "eye" motifs (Hal, for example).

And that kitty looks like Kubrick, too, at least in B&W.
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:31 PM on May 4, 2012


People underestimate how much they communicate with their bodies. This is partly why animals are so effective as helpers in cases of emotional disorders - they will pick up on when a person is anxious or angry well before the person does.
posted by mek at 1:31 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be much of a practical difference between "cats are psychic" and "cats pick up on thousands of subtle auditory, olfactory, and visual cues that are completely invisible to humans," as far as I'm concerned.
posted by theodolite at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kitties Kiss
Paws of Glory
2001: A Spay Odyssey
A Catscratch Orange
Full Meow Jacket
Eyes Whiskers Shut

Who knew?
posted by Rashomon at 1:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You forgot Spartaclaws.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 1:37 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's like The Card Cheat said, in the wild a cat would be aware of the myriad subtle nuances of its territory - the different plants and smells, the birds that come through, the way everything changes over time, and the peculiarities of any other cats that may be nearby. But a house pet doesn't have that kind of stimuli, so it focuses all its attention on the home and you.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:38 PM on May 4, 2012


Spartapuss?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


All work and no skritches makes Stanley a dull boy.
All work and no skritches makes Stanley a dull boy.
All work and no skrtiches makes Stanley a dull boy.

TSAEF YCNAF

XIM WOEM
posted by argonauta at 1:48 PM on May 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Of course Trurl loved cats. He was a man of taste and distinction.
posted by symbioid at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2012


"It is a box Mr. Kubrick"
posted by clavdivs at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite his austere public image, director Stanley Kubrick was an avid lover of cats.

Who would ever associate cat ownership with eccentricity?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


If Kubrick had his way with the sequel to 2001, we'd have learned the monolith was really a litter box for a race of advanced cat-like alien beings who evolved to poop vertically.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


That monolinth would have made a great scratching post too. A little pointy to perch on, though.
posted by maryr at 2:08 PM on May 4, 2012


XIM WOEM gave me my first hearty laugh of the day. Thank you.
posted by sudasana at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


2001 fascinated, yet freaked my cat out. I wonder if his cats screened the edits.
posted by ignignokt at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a wanker.
posted by colie at 2:46 PM on May 4, 2012


It's worth mentioning that Bonus Cat (the cat in ignignokt's comment above) spent at least an hour alternating between watching intently and throwing occasional ears-back WTF faces, and skittering tail-down out of the room. He'd leave when the soundtrack got particularly loud or dissonant, only to tentatively slink back in a few minutes later and watch some more. He just couldn't stay away.

Maybe Kubrick secretly made 2001 for cats.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:50 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be much of a practical difference between "cats are psychic" and "cats pick up on thousands of subtle auditory, olfactory, and visual cues that are completely invisible to humans," as far as I'm concerned.


Precisely my thinking. I pill my cat on an irregular schedule depending on his condition. The intervals range from two to five days, and there really is no pattern. Now, it may be that when I look at my cat from across the room and think to myself, "he needs his pill today, or he's going to start barfing," that he's detecting a thousand subtle physical cues from my body language, eye movement, or whathaveyou; however, to my mind, when he looks up at me with a start just after I've had that thought and bolts for the safe space under the bed, he has just effectively read my mind.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:55 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I Can Have Cinematographer
posted by nickrussell at 2:59 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hospice cat predicts patients' deaths
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:00 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some cats are smarter than others. Telepathic transmissions might just need more brain juice.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:04 PM on May 4, 2012


In fairness, all cats require 15 pages of instructions on their care. Kubrick was just conscientious enough to write them all out.

Well, true, as long as 14 of the pages are just "these cats are weird and will do whatever they like no matter what they do" over and over.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:02 PM on May 4, 2012


Where are the 15 pages of instructions. I really need them, I'm leaving for a trip next week.
posted by arnicae at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2012


Hospice cat predicts patients' deaths

Once again, there's that fuzzy line between 'predicts' and 'causes'...
posted by Sys Rq at 7:02 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hospice cat predicts patients' deaths

I saw that "House". Everyone has a slight fever.
posted by maryr at 8:05 PM on May 4, 2012


You don't "care for" a cat, you follow its orders.
posted by HuronBob at 2:49 AM on May 5, 2012


It's a shame he's not living today. Imagine a YouTube cat video directed by Kubrick.
posted by WalkingAround at 8:23 AM on May 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


In fairness, all cats require 15 pages of instructions on their care. Kubrick was just conscientious enough to write them all out.

Well, true, as long as 14 of the pages are just "these cats are weird and will do whatever they like no matter what they do" over and over.....


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posted by oneirodynia at 12:18 PM on May 5, 2012


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