This film is part of Free

The Cat that Walked by Himself

Appealing 1980s animation of Rudyard Kipling’s children’s fable in which a cave woman’s magic fails to tame a cat with attitude.

Children's 1983 15 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


This wildly appealing animation by Sheila Graber is an adaptation of one of the best of Rudyard Kipling’s whimsical origin tales for children, published as the Just So Stories in 1902. And not surprisingly for an artist whose work is peppered with felines, Graber relishes the character of the outsider Cat, a trickster who walks the line between freedom and domesticity “waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone”.

As a gifted amateur, Sheila Graber received commissions from the Tate Gallery, London, Tyne Tees TV and the BBC. The animations of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories were commissioned by Nicole Jouve of Interama, the French agent for The Magic Roundabout. They were first broadcast on French TV in 1983 and went on to be shown in 20 other countries. Kipling’s tale centres on the myth of Woman as the creator of home, tamer of man and beast, a role that is both re-iterated and parodied in the narration to comic effect. The independent Cat has been interpreted as an allegory of everything from the artist’s imagination to male sexuality. Ironically, the story was first published in the pages of the Ladies’ Home Journal.