Dr. Fox Animal Series: Cat Care (1987)

Distribution: Maier Group Communication
Collection: Private

Other titles: CAT; Dr. Fox Series: Cat Care; Cat care: a video guide to successful cat care;
Running time: 43m 00s
Source: VHS; color; sound
Year: 1987
Production: United Media Production; Selluloid Video
In Cooperation with: Actors and Others For Animals

Cast: Dr. Michael Fox

Before there were YouTube tutorials and Pets WebMD (yes, it’s a real thing) people had video guides (often produced on VHS) and could learn just about any skill in the comfort of their own living room in front of their trusty VCR. From swing dancing to gardening, odds are your local library was (and still is!) a treasure trove of analog-based know-how.

In 1987 renowned author, animal advocate, and veterinarian, Dr. Michael Fox, released one of many video guides on how to best care for your beloved pets. Cat Care — released in 1987 as part of his larger animal series — strives to cover almost every topic the average cat owner is likely to encounter during their feline friend’s lifetime. Not surprisingly, the moments captured on this video ebb and flow in mood and seriousness, much like a real-life relationship between humans and their pets: one minute loving camaraderie, the next unpredictable friction, and finally ending with some belly scratching.

There are lots of helpful tips packed into the modest 43 minute running time. Perhaps my favorite section of all is appropriately titled, “Body language–what is your cat trying to tell you.” Have you ever watched a grown man calmly and clearly explain the tricks of reading a cat while — claws drawn — it attempts to devour him like a Salisbury steak? No? This installment has you covered. And though it’s evident Dr. Fox is aware of the humor in some of what he’s doing, these silly moments never outweigh his professionalism or distract the viewer from the precision at which he shares his knowledge and advice. As his resume clearly boasts, he’s a true authority on all things animals.

The author holding his personal VHS copy of Cat Care.

If cat guidance isn’t what you’re after, well, this video is still great for some good ol’ fashioned kitty eye candy. Fox and his feline friends often double down on the cuteness, competing with the best of what YouTube cat videos have to offer. The segment, “Grooming your cat” which closes the video, really packs the purrs and left this viewer with a smile on his face and a cat on his lap. There really is something for every cat lover in Cat Care.

Video guides and instructional tapes are an important part of the VHS story. In a pre-digital world, these videos offered seemingly endless opportunities for viewers to expand their horizons and learn new and interesting skills. As our media has migrated from one format to another (VHS to DVD to digital) it’s important to remember that a decent amount of content has actually slipped through the cracks. Unfortunately, with the dominance of web-based learning, these instructional tapes hold little value for the average consumer of today. However, these videos are still windows into an era when resources of this kind were a vital part of the education of our friends, families, and communities.

More of a dog lover? Keep an eye out for Dr. Michael Fox, Dog Care (1989).



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