Must-See TV: NGC’s “In the Womb: Cats”


New Meaning To The Phrase Tiger-Mom

I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of “In the Womb: Cats,” which will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel tonight (Sunday, Jan 4th) at 9PM ET/PT.
The opening sucks you in with a description of the painful reality of feline mating. For the females, the pain is excruciating. You see, the male’s sex organ is barbed with more than 100 hooks made of the same fibrous protein of which nails and claws are made. Ouch! Upon exiting the female, these barbs scrape the inside of the female, not unlike someone keying a car. It triggers ovulation by releasing a hormone. Despite the discomfort, lionesses will mate up to 100 TIMES A DAY, and both partners can end up bloodied. Fascinating stuff once you stop shuddering at the site of the barbed male member.
The technology used to produce this show is extraordinary. They combine state-of-the-art visual effects and real-time 4-D ultrasound imagery to vividly trace the journey of a feline fetus in the womb. Showing both a house cat fetus and a lion fetus, they exploit the similarities as well as differences between the two. (If you’re a Tribe of Tiger fan, this show is for you!)


The 4-D ultrasound technology shows the fetuses at Day 38 appearing to run and chase imaginary prey — for the first time ever on television. The lion fetus is shown swinging in a hammock-like structure in utero — scientists speculate that this acts as a shock absorber for the fetus while the mother hunts actively throughout her pregnancy. You’ll observe the birth of cat behaviors we know well: grooming, stretching, scratching. (I even think I observed the cat fetus’ paws moving as if typing a little pre-birth blog.)

I give In the Womb: Cats a five-star must-see recommendation (9PM Sunday Jan 4th on the National Geographic Channel). And if you’re a dog lover, tune in an hour earlier for In the Womb: Dogs, in which the development of embryonic dogs and wolves is followed.


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