Chicago’s Feline Screenings are the Cat’s Pajamas

Cat video fest aka CatVideoFest

If you’re a YouTube watcher (and who isn’t?) with a penchant for pets, you may be thinking, “So many cat videos, so little time.” But all that’s about to change thanks to Will Braden.

The self-proclaimed “crazy cat lady in a man’s body” and creative force behind feline philosopher Henri le Chat Noir has curated and compiled two 70-minute programs for CatVideoFest 2018.

“We take the best cat videos of the year, along with some classics and unique submissions, and create a reel,” says Braden, who serves as the charitable festival’s president. “Then we arrange and host events around the world for people to come together and see the videos.”

CatVideoFest also raises money for local feline welfare and nonprofit animal groups. This year, a portion of Chicago ticket sales will go to two beneficiaries: Harmony House for Cats, a no-cage/no-kill shelter dedicated to rescuing and placing injured and abandoned cats; and Grassroots Animal Rescue, a local organization committed to providing quality care to rescued cats as well as educating the public and potential adopters on feline wellness.

In other words, Chicago-area audiences have an opportunity to help two worthy animal shelters while having some fun of their own since cat videos “make us laugh and forget other problems in our lives or the world around us.” That’s according to Harmony House President Ann Dieter, who says, “we all can use a dose of cuteness in our daily lives.”

No doubt, that’s why Harmony House for Cats is hosting its own Meow-vie Night with a screening of “A Streetcat Named Bob” on Sept. 21 when viewers can enjoy popcorn, soft drinks and snuggling with kitties. Attendees are invited to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets and are encouraged to participate in the evening’s raffles.

The funds Harmony House raises from Meow-vie Night (tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door) and CatVideoFest ($8-$12 tickets) will pay for spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations and microchips for cats and kittens getting ready for adoption. 

“Cat shelters are a haven for lost and abandoned cats that cannot help themselves,” explains Dieter. “The people who find the lost or injured cats and bring them to a shelter, the volunteers that help rehabilitate them, and the adopters who give them a forever home are all amazing people.”

As for the cats, Dieter calls them “sweet and genuine.” Plus the ones in the videos are amusing. “The cats that try to look casual after a pratfall are my favorites,” admits Dieter. “‘Yeah, I meant to do that.’”

CatVideoFest takes place at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on Sept. 9. Host Will Braden will sell and sign copies of his book “Henri, le Chat Noir: Reflections on Human Folly from a Feline Philosopher” in the lobby.

For more information, check out catvideofest.com and musicboxtheatre.com. To learn about Harmony House for Cats and Grassroots Animal Rescue, visit hhforcats.org and grassrootsanimalrescue.org, respectively.

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.