Netflix has become the fancy mixologist of bingeable entertainment, putting together things we never thought would fit and turning them into an internet sensation, as is the case with Don’t F**k With Cats. Just like we wouldn’t have thought to make pear and blue cheese an ice cream flavour, we never would have thought to make a true crime documentary about obsessive internet users and cats. Clearly, Netflix has been watching all of its true crime documentaries, because that is some excellent deductive reasoning.
We’re not sure if we should be concerned with how well Netflix knows us, no doubt because of the countless data points we willingly give away without a second thought. But a true crime cat documentary is next-level amazing. However, what sounds like a reboot of Punk’d with cats playing the role of Ashton Kutcher is actually a much darker fare. The juxtaposition of the clickbait-style title with the actual narrative is jarring. It is a gripping example of how online armchair detectives can play a significant role in the apprehension of real criminals. It is also not for the weak of heart or stomach; it is the Zodiac killer for the internet age.
Don’t F**k With Cats observes a host of cyber sleuths track down a man who posted a disturbing and sickening video torturing and killing two kittens. For the purpose of the documentary, they are not shown, but the description alone is enough to establish how horrific they are. Soon after this video appeared online, a Facebook group dedicated itself to tracking the man down and bringing him to justice. Analyzing every small detail of the video, from plug sockets to cigarette packets in a manner so meticulous it would make Sherlock Holmes retire, the investigation led by Deanna Thompson and John Green takes some dark and twisted turns. Not only does the perpetrator seem to enjoy the cat-and-mouse game as well as the attention he is receiving, but he releases a second and equally disturbing video that suggested he intended to harm a human next.
While the Facebook group of avid internet detectives is the reason this case was solved when it was, they did make some missteps. At one point, they misidentified the cat killer, claiming it was a man in South Africa. Without enough evidence, the group succumbed to mob mentality and began harassing the man, who struggled with depression and died by suicide shortly after.
Later, the group correctly identified the perpetrator to be Luka Magnotta. Convincing reluctant law enforcement, police got involved — but not before it was too late. Magnotta killed engineering student Lin Jun at his apartment in Montreal. It gets worse. He uploaded a video of the brutal murder to the internet to deliberately taunt the people he knew were pursuing him. As if he was above the law, he made no attempt to hide. He even wore one of Jun’s shirts out in public afterwards. He left Jun’s body and pieces of evidence where it could easily be found and sent his hand and foot to Montreal’s Liberal and Conservative party headquarters. For this, he became the subject of sweeping news coverage and an investigation that would span both Canada and France.