the piano-playing cat

The documentary series that profiles remarkable animals around the world continues with this charming study of a talented moggy.

Nora the cat has learned how to play the piano. Picking up cues from her piano-teacher owner, Betsy, Nora has demonstrated an incredible mastery of this complex instrument. Her choice of keys seems deliberate and she does not pound the piano. Like a true maestro, she strokes the keys and creates her own rhythm. Although partial to duets, Nora also enjoys playing on her own. Betsy has often woken up in the morning to the sound of her extraordinary pet tinkling the ivories.

From her humble beginnings, Nora has shown that she is rather different to other cats. Taken in as a stray, Nora immediately caused chaos in Betsy’s home, fighting with other cats and refusing to get along. But Nora has always adored her owner and, after watching Betsy and her students at work, she began to play herself.

Now animal behaviourist Beth Adelman is keen to meet Nora and understand the science behind her ability. Cats have exceptional hearing – they detect high-frequency sounds and can distinguish small differences in tone. Could these abilities be the key to Nora’s skills? The film also travels to Vienna, where a scientist has researched the effects of music on animals. As the reason for Nora’s talent gradually becomes clear, one burning question remains: is her music any good?

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