Last Thursday, the trailer for the film adaptation of Cats dropped, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
Reactions ranged from terrified to flabbergasted, and no sooner had cat Jason DeRulo peeked his head through a door than people began demanding answers. Answers to questions like: “Why do the cats’ tails appear to come directly out of their buttholes?,” “Why do the lady cats have human jugs?,” and, most important, “How does the furry community feel about it?”
For the uninitiated, furries are people who are interested in anthropomorphic animals — both existent and mythological — that possess human characteristics, such as human intelligence, being bipedal, and wearing human clothing. The furry community is diffuse and varied, but most commonly associated with “fursuits,” which are mascot-esque costumes that furries will don to inhabit their “fursonas,” a term that refers to one’s animal alter ego.
The parallels to Cats are obvious here: The cats of Cats walk and dance on two legs, some of them wear jackets or high heels, and they all seem to insist on making their friends watch them perform, a deeply human trait. But this new version — which eschewed the costumes of Broadway in favor of what director Tom Hooper described as “digital fur technology” — divided the community. Some reacted with visceral horror:
“I watched a couple scary movies this week, and the Cats trailer may have topped ’em all,” animator and furry Jib Kodi told the Cut. “Many assume the fandom would be all about this. Okay, it’s got cat’s ears and tails. But look at it this way: I like Spider-Man, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I like spiders.”
He said that for him, Cats plunged too deeply into the uncanny valley, and that while there’s a chance the movie will be beautifully shot and have amazing performances, “the way the cats look are a hard sell for me.”
Shneppie, a Snow Leopard Shepherd fursuit, said that he was thrown off by the decision to animate the cats. “I remember growing up and seeing photos of the beautiful fuzzy leggings, wild outfits, and frizzy colorful hair in the Cats Broadway-production ads,” he said. Those costumes, he explained, along with Chewbacca’s in Star Wars, were what inspired him to want to make fuzzy costumes of his own. “I wish the Cats movie had stuck with the handcrafted costumes and sets of the Broadway production and found actors that can bring the costumes to life.”
The responses were not universally negative, though. AtlasInu, an illustrator whose fursona is a Shiba Inu, told the Cut that while the trailer is “not quite furry to me personally, more like humans with cat makeup and features added,” she really liked it overall. “Of course it’s sad that we didnt get fully anthropomorphized characters in mainstream media for a change, but I believe that they wanted to adhere more to the source material here.”
Reactions were similarly mixed on a furry discussion board on the subject. Some questioned the use of CGI; another suggested that the backlash was to be expected — “It’s weird to depend on what popularity thinks as they are the same people who hates a lot of awesome furry stuff.”
“I’ve seen the live version twice. I’m not sure I like the look of the CGI, but I don’t hate it. There is absolutely no way in hell I’m going to miss Ian McKellen playing the role of Gus the Theater Cat,” concluded one.