25 days of cats

Make the Cats Kiss, You Cowards

Out of an extensive list of perverse elements, the cat nuzzling in Cats is perhaps the most disturbing. Photo: Vulture and Universal Pictures

There’s a scene in Cats — spoilers ahead, but also Cats isn’t supposed to have a plot anyway — when Victoria (the white cat) and Mr. Mistoffelees (the magic cat) share an intimate moment together. Mistoffelees has just rescued Victoria from certain death at the hands of a dog and the two are catching their breath, leaning against the safety of a now-closed door. It’s quiet. There’s a lot of prolonged eye contact. The two lean their heads together and put their faces real close. And then … they nuzzle.

Reader, I screamed. You could cut the forced romantic tension with a knife and they … just … nuzzle?!?! (“But Mr. Mistoffelees is gay,” a friend who saw it with me the second time shouted at the screen. She’s not wrong. We’ll ignore the obvious het-washing at the moment because the bodily horror that is nuzzling takes precedence.) The nuzzling is an attempt to make the cast of Cats seem more feline, a lesson taught at the so-called “Cat School” all actors attended before making the film. And while I understand that, realistically, cats do not make out with each other and that nuzzling is truer to life for a cat wishing to demonstrate affection for another cat, this is Cats. Nothing is realistic. Surely not cats who walk, dance, and run solely on their hind legs. Not cats who use, uh [checks notes], magic to disappear other cats in an attempt to win a contest that awards the winner with a ride on a hot-air balloon to cat heaven. And certainly not cats who wear sneakers and T-strap character shoes and coats that appear to be made from the fur of … other cats.

Close your eyes. Picture Judi Dench. Stately, elegant, Academy Award–winning. Now picture Jason Derulo. Man who once had a photo of himself removed from Instagram because the outline of his dick was too visible. Okay, you with me? Great. Now, picture them NUZZLING. I could not make this shit up if I tried.

The thing about Cats is that it’s canonically horny. Sweaty bodies in unitards that leave very little to the imagination. Incredibly fit and hot people contorting themselves in all sorts of ways. Rum! Tum! Tugger (Derulo’s recent attempt notwithstanding)! It’s engineered to make you feel some kind of way (horny) and then feel some other kind of way (horny) about the kind of way the cats make you feel. The movie doesn’t lean hard enough into this. It only gets you halfway there and leaves you wanting more, and not in the good way. (There’s probably a cinematic blue-balls joke to make here, but none of the cats in Cats have genitalia. Though, if they did, Derulo would like you to know that his would be bigger than everyone else’s.)

Tom Hooper & Co. are currently in the process of rolling out a patched-up version of Cats — one that, ostensibly, corrects for some of the sins against God and man that is the CGI fur in the film. Also, more realistically, to try and help Universal recoup more of the mountain of funds it put into Cats, only to have the thing flop on opening weekend and drive people from the theater before the end credits. (My second Cats viewing was a 9:40 show in Times Square on a Thursday night. There were maybe 15 people in the theater, and a half-dozen walked out prior to it ending.) Perhaps, in addition to the fur, the Cats team might consider making the cats mack on each other. It absolutely could not hurt. Cats can have a little smooch, as a treat.

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Make the Cats Kiss, You Cowards