Being a journalist is an extremely difficult job. Every article you write requires deep research, an objective eye, careful critique, and huge amounts of patience.
To that end, I have made the great sacrifice of subjecting myself to several hours — yes, literal hours — of video courtesy of VRV’s CuriosityStream channel, to find and distill for our readers the cutest animal documentaries currently available on our streaming service.
It was a sacrifice, dear reader, but one that I am willing to make for the sake of journalism.
What follows is the result of my research, presented completely objectively and heavily researched for the highest possible level of accuracy.
Kittenhood: A Tale of Three Kitties
The best studies approach their subject from multiple angles. And the French documentary Kittenhood does due diligence by following a trio of kittens from all around the world and all walks of life. And, of course, we start (as the title suggests) at kittenhood.
The kittens of the documentary range from feral to free to coddled. One shows a talent for hunting at an early age and goes to live at a farm, where the mice are plentiful but there’s also a young border collie to contend with. One lives in the lap of luxury at a Japanese cat cafe, where they’ll never be short of human contact but they’re unlikely to pounce anything more active than a butterfly on a smartphone app. And one is a stray living by the beach in Greece, relying on their fishing skills and the kindness of local fisherman for sustenance.
Cuteness: With a trio of cats from multiple backgrounds, investigating everything from rocky shores to sheep pens to doll beds, there’s a wide range of cute here. The French farm cat steals the show, though, doing her best to rule the farmyard and decide whether or not her new puppy friend is worth knowing.
Education: Cat lovers will enjoy seeing how kittens from all over the world are still, at heart, essentially the same. Whether wild or tamed, they all love to hunt and explore, and they all love extremely long naps. There’s even a brief study of the domestic cat’s propensity for sitting in things.
Overall: Kittenhood is an extremely important watch for cat owners or cat lovers.
The Secret Life of Dogs: They’re Good Dogs, Brent
In case your haven’t received your daily reminder that dogs are good — dogs are good. They love us, they look after us, they have weirdly innate senses they use to help and protect us, and they’re just adorable.
This documentary follows one young pup from birth to 18 months, as she trains to become a guide dog for the blind. Along the way we get to see what it takes to earn such a high-level title, and the mix of training and inherent personality that goes into making sure a pup is fit for the job.
Also along the way, we check in on a few other dogs: a rescue border collie, a springer spaniel who taught herself to help out around her owner’s farm, and plenty of others. Some of the stories are silly, some are amazing, and a couple are absolutely heartbreaking. Save a hankie for the story of the dog who won the Victoria Cross.
Cuteness: The Secret Life of Dogs shows off all sorts of dog breeds at every age. But most importantly, it shows dogs interacting with the owners they love. There’s so much personality in each story we see, which just makes each dog even sweeter. All of them are at least 12/10, some higher.
Education: Did you know dogs lick your mouth because licking their mother’s mouth makes them regurgitate food?… Okay, so that detracts slightly from the cuteness there. But it’s a fantastic documentary for people curious about the science behind dogs’ awareness of and sensitivity to medical conditions.
Overall: The Secret Life of Dogs should probably have been called Dogs Are So Good, because that’s what you’ll be saying all through it.
On the Trail of the Fox: A Star Is Born
The 2007 French film The Fox and the Child, about a young girl who attempts to befriend a wild fox, required footage of actual wild foxes in addition to acting from the film’s tame fox, Titus. Three filmmakers traveled out to Abruzzo, where they’d heard stories of friendly foxes being less afraid of human presence.
The stories were true — especially when it came to Sosie.
Sosie (meaning doppelganger, so named by the film crew since they’d originally mistaken two foxes for the same one) slowly befriends the team, weaving in and out of their shoot and even trying to come into their cabin. Then, an idea strikes the team: what if they set it up so Sosie actually interacts with the actress in one scene?
The film covers several months of interaction, eventually leading to the moment of truth: will Sosie show up for the day of the shoot? And if so, how will it go?
Cuteness: Well, foxes are basically shouty cat-dogs, so they’re bound to be cute. Sosie in particular, with her inquisitive nature and eventual friendliness with the film crew, is absolutely adorable. Even the crew can’t stop talking about her, and how they have to resist trying to pet her for fear of scaring her away and ruining the entire trip.
Education: This won’t be a crash course in foxes in the wild; it’s mostly about the crew’s encounters with one fox in particular. But while following her, they do observe her habits and make observations on her lifestyle. So you won’t walk away an expert, but you will learn something.
Overall: On the Trail of the Fox is a sweet story of a fleeting friendship between animal and human — and, if you’ve seen The Fox and the Child, is something of a “Good Ending” version of the film.