image for CATS

Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance 6-7 (scary scenes and possible lack of interest for younger viewers)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for CATS
  • a review of CATS completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 December 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to scary scenes.
Children aged 6–7 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes. May lack interest for younger viewers.
Children aged 8 and over Suitable for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: CATS
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild themes
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The movie CATS is based on the stage musical of the same name, which is based on T. S. Eliot’s collection of poems called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Set in the streets of London, the movie begins when a woman unceremoniously dumps a sack containing a young cat called Victoria (Francesca Hayward) in an alleyway. There Victoria is introduced to the Jellicle Cats and, in particular, Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) who takes her under his wing. The cats are excited about the forthcoming Jellicle Ball where one cat is chosen to go up to Heaviside to be re-born. Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) has the authority to choose which cat this will be.

The Jellicle cats are tormented by Macavity (Idris Elba), a wicked cat who can perform magic and who wants to be the chosen cat. He goes to great lengths to secure his position including capturing other cats and tying them up on a barge in the Thames. Meanwhile, Victoria meets outcast Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), a sad old cat who has nothing to live for, who takes her to meet Old Deuteronomy. When Macavity captures Old Deuteronomy, Victoria asks for the help of Mr Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson), another magical cat, to help bring her back.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Magic; stray cats

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A woman tosses a sack containing a cat into an alleyway.
  • Macavity fights with another cat.
  • Macavity pushes Victoria off a stage.
  • A knife-throwing act nearly hits a cat, which then leads to the cats running riot and destroying everything in a house.
  • Victoria is caught by a chain around her neck.
  • Growltiger pushes Old Deuteronomy with a barge pole and tries to make her walk the plank. The cats all fight against Growltiger who gets pushed into the river.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The cat costumes are very realistic and some of them are scary looking such as Macavity and Growltiger. Grizabella and Gus the Theatre Cat are sad, old looking cats.
  • The film is made from a cat’s perspective so that all of the surroundings are very large, such as dustbins, buildings, etc.
  • The cats are seen eating beetles, which are tiny creatures with human faces.
  • One of the cats lands badly on a container injuring his private parts. He spits food at Victoria then the other cats all pull him off the container, which falls on top of him and he is covered in all of its contents.
  • Some of the cats hiss and spit at each other.
  • Mr Mistoffelees falls from a large tombstone and lands badly but is unhurt.
  • A cat sits in a fireplace and burns herself. She jumps onto a curtain rail and falls off.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The cats are all scared by Macavity and run away from him.
  • Macavity can disappear in a puff of smoke and he makes other cats disappear in the same way. He laughs with an evil laugh and his eyes shine green.
  • The Thames barge is a scary scene – it is dark and grey and the cats are seen all tied up with chains.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Bovril.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Victoria and Mr Mistoffelees are attracted to each other and rub necks and faces.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Catnip is sprinkled on the cats to make them go to sleep.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

CATS is a musical movie with the famous score by Andrew Lloyd Weber, based on the stage play. It is full of a great cast of actors and it is very well done, as are the costumes and background setting. The themes are very mild but there are some scary scenes and it may lack interest for young children. It is therefore recommended for children over 7 and adults.

The main message from this movie is that redemption is always possible.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Hope
  • Inclusion
  • Tolerance of differences
  • Courage
  • Bravery
  • Karma.