Just for Cats: A Purr-fect Evening for Toronto’s Cat Lovers

TIFF’s Just for Cats film festival brings out some of Toronto’s coolest cats

By Andrea Day

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On April 17, Toronto’s cat lovers gathered at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the inaugural screening of the “Just For Cats” film festival, a carefully curated selection of the finest cat videos that the Internet has to offer. “Just for Cats” will soon begin making its way across the country in order to fund the improvement of cat welfare with the ultimate goal of ending cat homelessness in Canada. (Obligatory PSA: spay/neuter your pets, folks!) The evening’s two showings — the first sold out so quickly that a second was added — were preceded by a red carpet gala attended by famous Canadian cat lovers like TV personality Jeannie Becker and Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who introduced the first screening. The night’s real stars, though, were the adoptable cats brought to the event by the Toronto Humane Society: the quirky Albert, dignified Old Blue, Ted, Carver, Carson, Lena, and Noelle, who were seeking their forever homes. Heart-warmingly, some of them have already been adopted, and the kitties still looking for new homes can be viewed on the Toronto Humane Society’s website.

Some of the “Just for Cats” videos, like the viral Fresh Step litter ad “Catalogue,” FatAwesome’s dramatization of typical cat and dog behavior, and the always adorable “Kittens: Inspired By Kittens,” featured human beings but felines dominated the evening. Many of the shorts, which seemed to be entirely composed of connoisseurs of the genre, elicited laughs of recognition from the audience, — indeed, a list of the videos selected by the Walker Art Center bears a striking resemblance to any ailurophile’s YouTube playlist — and it was a delight to see old favorites like Grumpy Cat, Henri le Chat Noir, Lil Bub, and the recently-deceased Colonel Meow on the silver screen (the audience let out a collective squeal when Bub’s squonky little visage first appeared). My vote for most adorable video of the evening, though, goes to “Cat Boarding”, but I might need to watch every clip at least 15 more times to be sure.

Thanks to marquee sponsor Whiskas Temptations, I walked away from the screening with two bags of treats (yesssss) and a plastic cat-ears hairband that I may or may not be wearing right now, AND I ran into my little buddy Mortimer’s former foster mom, who was volunteering with the THS. In other words, it was the best night ever. The evening’s proceeds will be divided equally between TIFF’s community outreach programming and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

Don’t miss your chance to see this feline festival for yourself. Check out all the upcoming dates and locations for Just for Cats.