This lighthearted documentary series profiles a range of remarkable animals from across the globe.

This instalment focuses on Nora, the magnificent piano-playing cat, whose talents have won her celebrity status amongst her internet audience. Taken in as a stray by cat-lover and piano teacher Betsy, initially there was little to distinguish Nora from other moggies. Indeed, with a regular stream of pupils filing through for music lessons, and five other cats already well ensconced in the house, the grey tabby had a lot of competition.

Fast-forward four years and the humble housecat had become a musical maestro. Betsy claims that Nora took to the piano immediately and seemed to have an affinity with the instrument. So impressed was Betsy with Nora’s deliberate choice of keys and natural sense of rhythm that she took video footage of her pet and posted it on YouTube. The clip was a roaring success and to date has had over nine million hits.

So what inspires Nora to play? Fans have suggested to Betsy that the cat may be a feline reincarnation of a composer. Betsy notes that Nora is especially fond of Bach’s Minuet in G. “That would be very frustrating – to have had ten fingers and then come back with two paws,” she sympathises. But Nora’s love of tinkling the ivories may carry a more scientific explanation.

In the hopes of getting inside the mind of this fascinating creature, animal behaviourist Beth Adelman analyses Nora’s home environment. She notes that because Nora sits in on Betsy’s piano lessons, she has obviously picked up her skills via associative learning. “Cats learn by watching. That’s the reason we have the word ‘copycat’ in our language,” she explains. Furthermore, mimicking the students would be a surefire way for an attention-seeking pussycat to get noticed.

But is Nora just a plain show-off? That is unlikely, according to bioacoustician Dr Elizabeth Von Muggenthaler. She says it is all about good vibrations. The pulses that pass through Nora’s sensitive whiskers and paw pads when she plays are similar to the rhythm of purring. And one of the main reasons cats purr is to send positive energy through their muscles. “Cats are actually healing themselves every single time they purr,” says Dr Von Muggenthaler. In fact, vibration therapy is used to improve bone density and muscle health in humans.

In Vienna, Professor Hermann Bubna-Littiz also studies the positive effect that music has on cats, although his theory is different again. He says that like humans, cats’ moods can be influenced bymusic – and he has even composed a song to prove it. The piece contains rhythms that replicate the cat’s resting heartbeat. When it was played to a room full of hostile or frightened cats, the professor observed that “kindly actions like grooming or licking each other or making contact with the nose increased”.

Scientific explanations aside, the burning question remains: is Nora’s music any good? To survey the music’s popular appeal, the film-makers take Nora’s show on the road. With the help of an audio engineer, a Latin dance beat is added to one of Nora’s tracks. What will London’s hipsters really make of the melody in a blind-testing?

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