Local cat cafe featured in Netflix documentary


Alley Cat Cafe, a place that prides itself on being a shared community for Ithaca’s coffee and cat lovers, was used as a filming location and staged for a recent Netflix documentary “Inside the Mind of a Cat “.

The documentary, produced by Red Rock Films, was released on August 18 and focused on cat research conducted by scientists around the world as well as the science behind cat behaviors and actions. Several action shots for the documentary were shot at the Alley Cat Cafe, located in downtown Ithaca. It was the Red Rock Films team who contacted the cafe having already been in contact with Bruce Kornreich, Senior Associate Director of Extension at Cornell Feline Health Centersaid Kristin O’Scammon, owner of the Alley Cat Cafe.

“In a kind of brainstorming together, [the producers] thought, you know, Alley Cat Cafe would be awesome,” Kornreich said. “Because they’re just a big local entity. What they’re doing is very consistent with what we’re trying to do, which is trying to provide people with really positive experiences with cats and the benefits that cats can bring. ”

The documentary crew spent a lot of time in the cozy and aromatic filming location, while Kornreich said he shot his clips at a local AirBnB because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the crew first entered the cafe, their accent was different, O’Scammon said. It was more about what she called the “cat-human connection,” or the emotional connection between the two. The team was initially interested in talking to someone who had adopted a cat from the cafe — which they filmed, but didn’t use for the documentary, O’Scammon said. The documentary focused more on the science behind cat behaviors and cat research at the time of its release.

Paris Agiomavritis, a freshman at Ithaca College, said she recently visited the cafe and spoke with O’Scammon about the documentary.

“I heard about the Netflix documentary from the owner herself and found out some interesting details from her,” Agiomavritis said. “I guess the Netflix documentary was originally going to be totally different from what was released. It was much more focused on community service and how cats have helped people with anxiety and depression, a much more serious documentary that what happened. »

Kornreich said he didn’t seem to care that the documentary took a more scientific turn. He said much of the research featured in the documentary (such as the experiment to determine whether or not a cat recognizes its name) focused on studying the human-animal bond, which was in line with the idea of ​​informing people on the relationship between cats and human beings.

“Well, I think that’s good and very informative because although they looked more at research, mainly behavioral research, a lot of the research was focused on how people interact with people. cats,” Kornreich said.

Regardless of the outcome, O’Scammon said she enjoyed the process. But at the same time, she wished the documentary had focused more on educating people about welcoming cats and caring for them.

Freshman Samantha Guzman, who has two cats herself, said she liked the accurate depiction of the cats in the documentary.

“As far as the documentary goes, it’s just nice to have scenes of cats playing and being natural themselves rather than having a sad sight of caged cats in a shelter,” Guzman said. “I think that’s what we need because cats aren’t meant to be caged, they’re meant to roam free. So I’m just happy that they have a good representation or view of that. what are cats.

The Alley Cat Cafe cats are from Brown haired cat rescue (BCR), a volunteer-run organization that brings “adoptable kittens” to the café. With BCR, the cafe hopes to “create a sense of community; a place where people gather around a common interest.

The cafe has ‘high’ and ‘low’ energy rooms that cater to everyone’s mood. The high-energy room is an option for allergy sufferers who can watch the more social, high-energy cats play from the cafe’s seating area. The low-power room, located at the back of the store, is more suitable for those who want to cuddle the more relaxed kittens while enjoying their coffee.

“I was able to start easily with cats in the low-energy room that just like to sleep, and then build myself up with the more playful ones,” Agiomavritis said. “So I definitely think as someone who doesn’t really have experience with cats, it’s well worth the hype and I would definitely stay there again.”