Just feline - man’s other best friend

Secret Life of Cats
Secret Life of Cats
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Even the most ardent of dog-lovers have to admit there’s something quite special about cats.

While dogs are a faithful, ever-present companion to their owners’ lives, cats are somewhat more aloof, and therefore much harder to pin down.

When a dog wags its tail, it’s usually happy – but cats don’t seem to wear their emotions on their sleeves quite so clearly (even a purr can signify discomfort).

This one-off documentary, therefore, should make for enlightening and interesting viewing for anyone, from cat owners themselves to those without the first clue about feline eccentricities.

It utilises new filming techniques to uncover the qualities possessed by every one of the much-loved pets, from pedigree breeds to ordinary household moggies.

As the programme illustrates how they possess the balance of a ballerina, senses so acute they can see what’s invisible to us, and unique social skills, it becomes clear why they are quite deservedly one of the most popular pets in Britain.

Through this new technology, the viewer is afforded a glimpse of the felines’ world – through the animals’ own eyes. Given that they can pinpoint a miniscule mouse scratch from over 30 feet away, that’s no mean feat.

However cats’ unique abilities are not just beneficial to themselves.

Studies have shown that when you stroke a cat, your immune system improves, your blood pressure goes down, and your body halts production of stress-related hormones – making you a third less likely to suffer from heart disease.

We also hear from cat owner Sue Roff, who explains how Basil, her cat, saved her and her husband’s life by detecting the presence of gas in their house at night and waking them up – just before the pilot light on their heating system was due to come on.

If it wasn’t for Basil’s keen sense of smell – 30 times stronger than our own – the consequences could have been catastrophic.

It seems that the title of ‘Man’s Best Friend’ could well be up for contention – especially given the details of another tale which features on the show. Jayne Dillon is the mother of a young lad, Lorcan, who suffers from a

severe anxiety disorder called selective mutism, which left him all but unable to speak to people – however when the family took in Jessi-cat, the pair struck up an instant bond, and Lorcan soon came out of his shell.

Before long, he was able to tell his newfound purry pal “I love you” – something he had been unable to say to his parents – and Jayne couldn’t be more impressed with either of them. She explains, “She’s just been his best friend really, since she arrived.

“He does struggle explaining how he feels. He can talk to Jessi-cat, he can cuddle her if he’s upset. It’s an outlet for his emotions”.

The programme, narrated by Martin Clunes, coincides with Secret Life of Babies, shown on this channel tomorrow at 9pm.

Secret Life of Cats

Monday, 9pm