Animation: The Cat Piano

Our hero, hard at work.

The Cat Piano is a short animated film (running about eight minutes) about a New York-style city inhabited by anthropomorphic cats. The narration, written by Eddie White in the style of 1950s beat poetry and read by Nick Cave, describes the plight of a lonely writer who falls in love with a beautiful singer. The mass abduction of all the singing cats and the resulting mass hysteria causes the town to fall apart. After struggling with despair, the writer sets out to rescue his beloved.

It can be watched in its entirety here.


  • Adult Fear: Even if you're a cat musician, getting yourself kidnapped by some random stranger without warning while not knowing what'll happen to you is a very real fear.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Sort of. Descriptions, drafts and suggestions on what to use the cat piano for has appeared many times in different records, but there is no evidence that it has ever been built.
  • Always Night: Or perhaps this is because of the blue tone...
  • Art Shift: The cats suddenly stop being anthropomorphic when they attack the mad human in the lighthouse.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: The piano player is seen carrying one over his shoulder after the poet realizes that his love interest has become the human's final victim.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: One such she-cat can be seen briefly near the beginning as a background character in a dancing crowd.
  • Bilingual Bonus: During the verse where the poet narrates the torment of the imprisoned cats, the word "cat piano" is recited four times in German, French, Japanese and Chinese as a sort of Madness Mantra.
  • Book Ends: The protagonist is sitting alone at a window working at a typewriter. At the end of the movie, he is seen sitting at the same spot as he finishes his story... and starts courting the female cat singer.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Even background characters have unique designs
  • Cat Concerto: This anthropomorphic variation has them as 1950s lounge singers and beat poets.
  • City with No Name
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A human drives nails into cats' tails to make them scream.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: While played straight with the protagonist, who is colored blue to symbolize his loneliness and calm nature until the end, every cat colored blue is seen partying and playing music. Then played straight with everyone after a string of kidnappings sends the musical city into a depression.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Dark shades of "night" blue represent the cats and their city, while an ominous red wash colors the human and his lighthouse.
  • Damsel in Distress: The female white cat singer is kidnapped by a human for him to use in his cat piano.
  • Disney Villain Death: "...He [the human] stumbled, fell through the window screaming into the indigo waters below."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Nice Guy who saves the fascinating singer from a sadistic sociopath shows clear references to Blue Velvet.
  • Driven to Suicide: At one point, the protagonist mimics the act of shooting himself. "Snap."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the movie, the protagonist is seen courting the female cat singer he fell in love with in the beginning.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: As the title hints.
  • Expy: According to the film's website's blog, they owe a little something to the character Blacksad, for the cat poet's design. If you squint a little, you can see a bit of the resemblance there. Especially when you see him smoking a cigarette and could come off as a skinnier version of said character—minus the fur color and the detective part.
  • Film Noir: 95% pure Film Noir.
  • The Fifties: The aesthetic is largely derived from Film Noir and stars a Beatnik cat.
  • Furry Confusion: Drawings of non-anthro cats appear in the diagram of the cat piano.
  • Furry Female Mane: In effect for the most part, but also inverted a few times.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Nick Cave provides the voice of main character and narrator.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The lighthouse, which is the highest and most noticeable of buildings in the entire city, stands isolated on a small island in the bight and serves the mad human as a hideout. At first, when the kidnappings start, the light goes out, and when the piano starts playing, a red light goes on instead. This is when the poet takes action and storms the lighthouse with a mob of citizens. Nevertheless, the trope is justified as the tower is heavily symbolical rather than anything else.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The mad human pianist who is the main villain of the film.
  • Instrument of Murder: The aforementioned Cat Piano, a horrible piece of work that drives a sharp nail into a cat's tail to make it scream in pain whenever a key is pressed.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The mad human pianist who had been kidnapping and torturing cat musicians to make his music is attacked by those same cats and sent falling to his death.
  • Love at First Note: The female cat singer had a voice so beautiful that it made the angels sound "tone deaf", which was one of the reasons why the protagonist falls in love with her.
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Meaningful Background Event: One scene had the narrator poetically telling "There was a hole in my heart and everything fell out of it...", while the background animation features another cat getting messily stabbed in the heart during a brawl.
  • Nameless Narrative
  • Narrative Poem: He is recording the events, and he narrates the whole thing as he types it.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Made of cats.
  • Petting Zoo People: Everyone but the human piano player.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Averted. Although this is a Film Noir, the narrator is neither a private detective nor does he narrate in an appropriate "Private Eye" manner. He narrates an epic beat poem.
  • Properly Paranoid: The cat city starts banning music and destroying musical instruments after many cat musicians are kidnapped by the mad human piano player, leaving everyone fearful of becoming the next target.
  • Red Filter of Doom: In the climax of course. The fact it's justified by the lighthouse is anyone's guess.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: The female singer is pure white with green eyes and glows visibly in the blue-toned atmosphere.
  • Stealth Pun: The Cat Piano is an instrument of torture.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The mob of angered cat citizens that is led by the writer to the lighthouse. This is, however, notably done without torches or pitchforks to keep the gritty atmosphere. Instead, the cats pounce at the mad human and claw him violently before he manages to fall out a window to his death.
  • Woman in White: The female cat singer, who symbolizes the heart of the musical cat city. When she disappears, the loss of her voice sends the cat city into a paranoid hysteria.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Possibly. It's a little hard to tell when everything is blue.