Hollywood screenwriter reveals why TV characters don’t have pet cats: ‘I never noticed’

·3 min read

A Hollywood screenwriter just revealed the strange reason that most TV characters don’t have cats as pets.

The fascinating insight comes courtesy of TikTok user Michael Jamin (@michaeljaminwriter). Jamin, who has more than two decades of experience as a TV writer and producer, has worked on shows such as King of the Hill, Wilfred and Tacoma FD.

His knowledge of TV cats, though, came during his time as an executive producer on the sitcom Maron, starring the comedian and podcaster Marc Maron.

As Jamin explained in his viral clip, Maron is famous for owning several cats, so he and the other showrunners wanted to include that detail in the show. But when it came time to actually pull it off, things got very, very difficult.

According to Jamin, he and the other producers hired a “Hollywood trained cat” for a scene in which Maron was eating salmon alone in his house.

“We just wanted to end the scene with the cat hopping on top of the table,” Jamin says. “In real life, you can’t keep a cat off a table when someone’s eating salmon.

However, once they called action, the cat froze in place. Jamin said it seemed totally freaked out by the silence during the scene — and it took about an hour to get it to jump.

“And it’s only for like five seconds of screen time,” Jamin added.

Jamin’s point, it seems, is that even a trained cat gets spooked by the natural silence of a TV set. Ultimately, an hour of coaxing and encouraging it isn’t worth the short amount of screen time.

The alternative, Jamin said, was to let the cat just walk freely through the scene. But that presents a continuity issue, because if they use multiple takes of the same scene, the cat would always be somewhere different.

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“[If you do that], the cat in the background’s going to be jumping around like a magic cat,” Jamin said. “It’s gonna be really weird and distracting.”

At that moment, Jamin said, he realized why so many shows don’t use cats.

“That’s why we don’t work with cats,” he added.

There are, of course, some exceptions to Jamin’s “no cats” rule. Salem, the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, is arguably one of the more famous TV characters of all time — but he was often portrayed by puppets.

Pumpkin, the cat who played Crookshanks in the Harry Potter films, reportedly did most of her own stunts. And then there’s Reggie, the cat who portrayed Goose in the 2019 film Captain Marvel.

Still, TikTokers largely understood Jamin’s point. There seem to be far more TV dogs, and many of the most famous television cats are animated (no offense, Garfield).

“I never noticed,” one user wrote. “But now that I think about it…”

“So interesting,” another agreed.

“It would probably only work on an animated show,” another added.

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