Courtesy of Call of the Wild
The roller coaster ride that was 2020 meant spending a lot more time at home with our furry friends and a lot more time escaping reality through movies and TV shows. While we turned to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ for entertainment, film studios said goodbye to traditional premieres and instead launched movies and shows straight to streaming platforms.
One thing didn’t change, though: Pet parents have continued to find joy in watching entertainment that features dogs and cats. Thankfully, amidst all this chaos, we were graced with several movies and TV shows starring our furry friends. From adventure tales and animated comedies to documentaries and competition shows, the entertainment on this list is sure to make you laugh, cry, learn something new, and hug your pet a little tighter. You may want to leave much of 2020 in the past, but don’t forge ahead without adding these movies and TV shows to your must-watch list!
Best Cat and Dog Movies of 2020
The Call of the Wild
Based on the legendary Jack London novel of the same name, The Call of the Wild is a thrilling adventure film that follows the friendship of a dog and an old outdoorsman. Buck, a Saint Bernard/Scotch collie mix, is abducted from his home and California and sent to the Yukon. There he befriends frontiersman John Thornton (played by Harrison Ford) and sets out on an unforgettable adventure. This is a family-friendly adaptation of the classic book, but the themes are still as moving as the river rapids Buck and Thornton ride. The film premiered on Feb. 21, but it was released on DVD and Blu-ray in May. The Call of the Wild is also available to stream on HBO Max.
Beware: you’ll be singing “Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you?” for days after watching this movie. The family-friendly Scoob! takes viewers on an adorably wild ride that begins the moment Shaggy adopts a talking stray Great Dane and names him Scooby-Dooby-Doo. The dynamic duo eventually meets three detectives (Fred, Daphne, and Velma), and together they form Mystery Inc. Years later the group takes on their greatest mystery yet. The movie was immediately made available for digital distribution and is also now available for streaming on HBO Max.
Addison Rae of TikTok fame makes her acting debut in this animated feline flick. Rae voices Marnie, a pampered house cat obsessed with TV cop shows who devotes herself to investigating criminal activity in her town. While the movie is nothing groundbreaking, the animated characters have undeniable personality and the storyline is light and family-friendly. Spy Cat is available to stream on Hulu and to rent from a variety of online sources.
Think Like a Dog
Here’s another family movie to occupy your kiddos’ free time during lockdown. For animal lovers who've ever wished they could talk with their dog, this storyline is what dreams are made of. A 12-year-old prodigy’s science experiment results in a telepathic bond with his dog. The duo uses their connection to overcome difficulties at school and even to make sure the technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Think Like a Dog is available to rent from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, and VUDU.
The Dog Doc
Marty Goldstein, DVM, has been called a “maverick” and a “miracle worker.” His practice, Smith Ridge Veterinary Center, provides holistic treatment for animals after other vets have given up hope. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the drama and compassion that fills a career in veterinary medicine. You can rent The Dog Doc on Amazon Prime Video.
Seniors, A Dogumentary
Another documentary—or maybe we should say “dogumentary”—to pull on your heartstrings! After writing Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love, famed photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky depicts the special relationship between senior dogs and their owners in Seniors, A Dogumentary. The film features some sweet silver muzzles from the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary and celebrates the brains, energy, and sass of some of the coolest senior dogs (and the people who love them). We're fans.
Cat and Dog TV Shows of 2020
Pairing Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn with a bunch of adventurous pups was destined to make TV greatness. One bright spot in 2020 was this new reality competition show, The Pack. The Amazon Prime original series pits 12 dog-and-owner duos against each other for teamwork challenges across the world. Just because the (spoiler alert) winner of Season 1 has already been chosen and awarded $500,000, doesn’t mean you can’t start watching the show right now!
We Are the Champions - Dog Dancing
While the full season of Netflix’s We Are the Champions covers several quirky competitions, the one that caught our eye centers on a little known type of dog show known as dog dancing. The show, executively produced by The Office’s Rainn Wilson, highlights the Open European Championship where German Shepherds, poodles, and rescue dogs alike execute choreographed dances with their human counterparts.
That Animal Rescue Show
The flourishing animal rescue community in Austin, Texas takes center stage in That Animal Rescue Show. This 10-episode docuseries was executive produced by Richard Linklater, a five-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and Austin resident, and Bill Guttentag, a two-time Academy Award-winner, so it's bound to capture the hearts of viewers who tune in. The series tells the stories of just a few of the organizations dedicated to rescuing animals in the area. One of the organizations featured is Safe in Austin, a nonprofit that rescues animals others consider to be “broken” and connects them with special needs children. You can watch all of the episodes on CBS All Access.
This HBO Max original series is bringing dog grooming to the big screen. Known as “the world’s most adorable dog grooming show,” every episode features three groomers facing off in head-to-tail grooming contests in hopes of winning “Best in Show” and $10,000. Haute Dog features celebrity dog stylist Jess Rona and actor/comedian Robin Thede as judges. Season 1 is now streaming on HBO Max, and we’re eager for many more!
We’re proud dog show fans, and one silver lining to the pandemic was that more dog shows and competitions were made accessible to watch from home this year. The National Dog Show was televised on Thanksgiving Day and available to stream on NBCSports.com, and the AKC National Championship will be televised on January 17 on ABC. Do your homework before you tune in: check out Daily Paws' coverage of dog shows and competitions for a refresher of this year’s doggie events and titleholders, including the gorgeous Irish deerhound who took home Best in Show at the National Dog Show.
Pet Shows and Movies To Look Forward To in 2021
As if the movies and TV shows on this list won’t book you up for the near future, a few pet-related movies have already been announced for 2021. We're already looking forward to a few films, including Bios, the Tom Hanks post-apocalyptic story slated to launch April 16, 2021 about a robot built to protect his creator’s beloved dog. Clifford, the beloved big red dog from kids' TV and picture books, is even getting his own movie next year, though fans will have to wait until November to watch the updated Clifford the Big Red Dog. We're also excited to watch Mayim Bialik embrace her inner 'cat lady' on the new FOX show Call Me Kat this January. If the buzz leading up to the show is any sign of what's to come, sign us up: the comedy follows Bialik as Kat, a single 30-something who decides to open up a cat café. Sounds like the purr-fect way to kick off the new year!