I recently received
an email from Terri F., a concerned reader, objecting to
Animals Matter Too advertising The Adventures of Milo &
Otis, a movie in which there
had been allegations of animal abuse. I had never heard
these rumors, however, after doing some research, it's
difficult to ignore the allegations and I certainly
would not advertise or recommend this movie going
The following analysis was
sent to Animals Matter Too by David McMillan of
Silkstone, Australia. While it is painful and chilling
to read, it is most certainly eye-opening and makes it
impossible to brush aside the abuse allegations.
Milo and Otis started as a Japanese art film called
Koneko Monogatari: The Adventures of Chatran.
“Chatran’s life is full of trials and tribulations,” the
UK’s Economist pointed out. “Many of them to do with
being soaked to the skin, like falling over a waterfall
in a wooden box or plummeting from a cliff into the sea.
It is hard to see how he survived. Indeed, according to
Japan’s biggest animal-rights group, he did not. Or, to
be accurate, a third of the 30 Chatrans used did not.”
[This quote and the production background in the
following paragraph are paraphrased from the following
Columbia Pictures ignored the allegations of abuse and
kitty and puppy killing by the Japanese production
unhindered by animal rights laws, and noted instead that
the film was making huge profits in Japan. Money talks,
and executives at Columbia picked it up with a mind to
overhaul and Americanise the feature - Fuji supplied
Columbia with almost 70 hours of extra footage from
which to make their own edit of the movie, which would
become a popular children’s film. Many graphic scenes of
animals fighting were removed but much of the violence
is still clearly visible despite the fact that Columbia
supposedly recut the movie for a grade school audience.
Otis, the dog, is sent naked-pawed through drifts of
deep snow, forced to swim to the point where the dog is
obviously drowning, and in one memorable scene, is
pitted against a very angry bear.
The on-screen trials of the cats playing Milo make a
longer list and will be detailed below.
There is much debate regarding the allegations that
dozens of cats and dogs were killed in the making of the
film; since the original Japanese shoot was not
supervised by any animal advocacy groups, it is
impossible to know the exact fates of the animal
‘actors’ exploited for the movies’ audiences. A common
argument from defenders of the American version is that
the original Japanese director was an animal lover, and
therefore would not have inflicted cruelty on any
One thing is certain from the most casual viewing of
either version of the film – this was not the work of an
animal lover. Much of the drama results from taking the
many kittens and pugs who ‘played’ Milo and Otis and
throwing them into dangerous encounters with snakes,
bears, foxes, cows, crabs, seagulls and into dangerous
locations such as snow, waterfalls, the ocean, or a
rapidly churning fast-moving river. Watching the cat and
dog actors, constantly out of their element, it is clear
that they are incredibly distressed by all these
situations, and are constantly on ‘high alert.’ With
admirable tenacity, they attempt to cling to life.
Ideally, a careful analysis of the
film-as-evidence-of-crime would have access to the
Japanese and American versions, and to all the footage
that hit the cutting room floor.
After watching about thirty minutes of footage on
Youtube, my brain and my heart told me that the
following scenes clearly involved imposing distress on
animals for the sake of human amusement or
*A mother cat and her kittens are exposed to a large
snake. The mother cat and the snake fight, the snake
strikes out at the mother cat. The film-makers cut away.
*A dog and an angry bear are pitted against each other.
The dog puts up a valiant fight, but is clearly out of
its league. The bear wacks, throttles and crushes the
dog. The film-makers cut away.
*A kitten is seen limping through the wilderness with an
apparently broken paw.
*A kitten is placed on the back of a large packhorse and
is dangerously buffeted as it clings on for dear life,
its tail sticking straight up in alarm.
*A kitten or cat is placed on a cliff in the middle of a
large pack of aggressive nesting seagulls, who
mercilessly attack it from all sides. The film-makers
*A kitten or cat is thrown from a 50metre+ cliff into
the ocean. This cat does his utmost to survive; he hits
the turbulent water and immediately starts swimming for
dear life. He makes it to the rocks where the cliff
meets the sea and starts climbing back up the perilous
cliff. Halfway up, he slips and falls back into the
ocean. The film-makers cut away. It is clearly another
soaking-wet cat who we see safely on the beach in the
next scene. Gee I wonder what happened to the first cat?
(With absolutely no supporting evidence, and with zero
credibility, defenders of the film suggest a
Star-Wars-style blue-screen special effect was used
here. This is so improbable, I almost didn’t want to
mention it, except that it shows the extremes of
passionate denial in which the film’s defenders are
prepared to indulge.)
* The cat and dog are chased by angry cows in a field.
The dog seems to go under the cows’ hooves. The
film-makers cut away.
* A crab and a kitten are pitted against each other. The
crab’s pincers fasten onto the cat’s lip and nose,
* A cat is sent down the rapids of a raging river in a
flimsy little box while Dudley Moore drunkenly jabbers,
“Oh dear me! Oh my! Goodness!” The cat is terrified. The
box goes over a small-to-medium waterfall, with the cat
inside. This cat seems to have survived this part of its
ordeal, in a great deal of vocal stress. The box
continues down the river. The film-makers cut away.
I was too upset by this stage to watch any more, but I
don’t have any time for anybody who would defend this
film. It is evidence of crime, pure and simple.
The evidence is in the footage; the rebuttal arguments
do not convince.
-David McMillan, Silkstone, Australia
We would like to thank Mr. McMillan for caring enough to
write & share his analysis to help educate those of us who have,
unfortunately, been uninformed up to this point.
information is courtesy of Wikipedia:
When the film was first released,
several Australian animal rights organizations raised
allegations of animal cruelty during filming and called
for a boycott. The Sunday Mail reported at the time that
Animal Liberation Queensland founder Jacqui Kent alleged
the killing of more than 20 kittens during production
and added that she was disturbed by reports from Europe
which alleged other animals had been injured, as in one
case where a producer allegedly had broken a cat's paw
to make it appear unsteady on its feet. Kent said her
organization had a number of complaints from people who
had seen the film and were concerned that it could not
have been made without cruelty. The Tasmanian and
Victorian branches of the RSPCA also alleged abuses.
The film was reported to have the
approval of the American Humane Society, despite not
having their officers present during filming.
American Humane Association attempted to investigate
cruelty rumors through "contacts in Europe who normally
have information on movies throughout the world." While
noting that the contacts had also heard the allegations,
they were unable to verify them. The organization also
reported, "we have tried through humane people in Japan,
and through another Japanese producers to determine if
these rumors are true but everything has led to a dead
end." However, the same report noted that several
Japanese Humane Societies allowed their names to be used
in connection with the film and that the film "shows no
animals being injured or harmed."