“A Cat in Paris” is literally about a cat who lives in Paris named Dino. By day he stays with a lonely little girl named Zoe, and by night he is on the prowl with a thief named Nico. In the animation style of the film, we see that Zoe and Nico mirror character traits of a cat through their movements while representing the motives of a cat looking for a family in the city of love.
According to thefreedictionary.com, a cat burglar is defined as “a burglar who breaks into buildings by climbing through upstairs windows, across roofs, etc.” This is how we are first introduced to Nico and Dino, as they are robbing a museum in the dead of night. Throughout the film, Nico’s movements defy physics and resemble the fluidity and grace of his feline companion. New York Times film critic A.O. Scott best describes the effects these deliberate animation style choices have:
A movie is a story told in pictures; a cartoon, however digitally torqued and dimensionally expanded, is essentially a bunch of drawings. The images in “A Cat in Paris” are pointedly and delightfully off-kilter and out of proportion. Feet are much too small for bodies. Perspectives shift and slide. Apparently solid objects have a tendency to wobble. The laws of physics are brazenly flouted as Mr. Felicioli and Mr. Gagnol take splendid advantage of the freedom that animation can offer to the hand, the eye and the imagination.
Cats are usually more active at night when they like to go hunting like Nico spending his nights breaking and entering. But during the day, cats are lazy and lay around. Zoe best represents this part of a cat’s lifestyle, but she also gets her chance to run around and move like a cat in the latter half of the film.
The cat moving between the home life of Zoe and the burglary life shows the inner struggle of Nico’s character. He lives by stealing, but also is desperately searching for a family. Thankfully, he finds one with Zoe and her mother after they straighten out a few moments of miscommunication and mistaken identity. Ultimately, by Nico finding a family with Zoe, both halves of the cat’s lifestyle are brought together to form a whole. The thief got a happy ending after all!