2024 Hot Docs 'American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly' exposes the torture of cat declawing, just to protect furniture

"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" correspondent, Amy Hoggart, takes us through the absurd reality of why cat declawing procedures continue

American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly
American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly

While many people are stuck to their phones and computers watching cute cate videos, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee correspondent, Amy Hoggart, is exposing the real risks of cat declawing in American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly (part of the 2024 Hot Docs Festival). It really makes you wonder whether protecting furniture justifies animal torture.

While that might sound extreme, it is the case with this documentary. In exploring this controversial practice, American Cats: The Good, the Bad includes conversations with cat lovers, cat owners, vets and more, exposing the billion dollars this controversial procedure rakes in for vets in the U.S. A procedure that's really just to protect furniture.

"I think we will always look for absurdity in the world and so hearing about the story of declawing was our entry point," director Todd Bieber told Yahoo Canada. "But we also knew ... nobody wants to watch a 90 minute movie about declawing."

"We have practice making really hard topics to discuss very, hopefully, fun and enjoyable, and entertaining, and doesn't feel preachy."

"I was really interested in the characters in the film," Hoggart added. "The baddies, the goodies, there's of eccentric people and everyone loves cats, and I wanted to make something that was really interesting from a human perspective as well, so people just want to watch it."

American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly
American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly

While a lot of the information exposed to us in the film by Hoggart is alarming, there is a particular success with this film in how incredibly funny it is as well. It really does achieve that perfect balance where the more serious, sometimes even gruesome elements, are paired with really funny conversations and moments.

"We do a ton of research ahead of time and that research includes the facts, the boring facts, but also what people's responses to those facts are," Bieber explained. "Then we get together [we're like], 'They're probably going to say this and ask that, wonder what we can say in response?' And so we brainstorm that."

"That goes back to our Full Frontal days, but we would usually spend three hours the night before just kind of running the ideas, and then what's great is that Amy's one of the best, if not the best improviser. ... Then Amy, because we're so prepared with everything else, can start rolling with the new things."

Hoggart added that during the editing process, that's when jokes can be pulled out that maybe they didn't even notice before.

Part of this great comedy is also due to the impeccable choices made for participants in American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly. That really came down to the fact that there are so many interesting cats and cat people in the world, including an influencer cat, a naval historian, an anarchist, someone who lives in an apartment with 18 feral cats, people with incredibly different politics and lifestyles, but they all love cats.

American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly
American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly

But ultimately American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly exposes the capitalism and financial aspect of declawing cats continuing in the U.S. But it's also worthy noting that in Canada, Ontario still allows the practice of declawing.

"There are a lot of very important issues that are in this world, ... a lot of them are rooted in capitalism," Bieber said.

"Late stage capitalism is cutting off claws and having the people who are supposed to protect animals look at the bottom line more than look at the health of the cats. ... It goes back to the absurdity. This is stupid."

"You break it down, people want it to protect the furniture, their property that they bought. But then also, vets are making money off it and they want to protect their income," Hoggart added. "And the AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association] want to protect vets income that general, making sure that the laws protect it."

"Everywhere you look, it's people thinking about money. So there's no way around it. It'd be extremely dishonest and not make that point."