I consider myself a cineologist — far from some elitist, hoity-toity catchphrase, a cineologist is something that you, too, can aspire to! Like any homegrown ecologist sporting a WWF T-shirt (that’s World Wildlife Foundation, not some weirdo wrestling slogan) I also endeavor to preserve rare species and encourage their ability to flourish and reproduce — of film, that is. Because a cineologist, of course, is plainly put a film fanatic bent on sharing the beauty of endangered cinema with the rest of the world.
So it is with Felidae, a 1994 German animated film of rare beauty that approximately 98% of the English-speaking world has not heard of. What is most peculiar is that this film is not difficult to follow, experimental, or abstract — things which tend to repel mass reception in American audiences — instead, this film is a classic murder mystery, with a mystery interesting enough to spend time figuring out along with the characters. Of course, since the story is about murder, this film is not standard family fare. In fact, the violence is probably graphic enough to turn most faint hearts away; but for those who stay, the reward is rich indeed.
Based on a novel of the same name written by Akif Pirinicci, Felidae's protagonist is a cat named Francis who has recently moved into a new neighborhood with his clueless owner, Gus. He quickly meets another cat, a male ominously named Bluebeard, while exploring his new backyard. Unfortunately, their meeting is not a happy occasion, as it occurs over the corpse of a tomcat whose head has been nearly severed from his neck. Francis teams up with Bluebeard, and they form a good cat/bad cat duo intent on uncovering the killer (or killers) responsible for a chain of murders stretching much further back than it at first appears to.
What Francis does not anticipate (it was probably not a selling point of the real estate agency) is that his new home includes a suicidal cat cult on the second story, an abandoned laboratory in the attic, and further weird experimental equipment in the basement — all of which are connected to a cat called Claudandus. To further complicate the crimes is the fact that many of the murder victims were sexually aroused at the time of their deaths.