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Stanley Kubrick had crazy instructions for looking after his pet cats

When he was off shooting Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick left behind an incredible list of crazy instructions for how to care for his cats

Ryan O'Neal as Barry Lyndon in Barry Lyndon

Legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick is renowned for many things; crafting some of the best movies of all time across a wide range of genres, being a meticulous and often difficult man to work with, and leaving behind crazy instructions for anyone looking after his pet cats. Okay, so the last one isn’t exactly something Kubrick was famous for, but it is most definitely something he did.

In many ways, Stanley Kubrick completed the art of filmmaking. He made one of the best horror movies of all time in The Shining, one of the best science fiction movies in 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the best comedy movies in Dr. Strangelove, and he also made a pretty wonderful drama movie, with his artistic epic Barry Lyndon.

As part of the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Kubrick’s daughter Katharina recounts the brilliantly bizarre and incredibly detailed list of instructions her father left behind when he set off to Ireland for the shoot of Barry Lyndon. By the sounds of instruction number 37 (yes, 37), cat-sitting for Kubrick cannot have been much fun!

“The 37th instruction is: ‘If a fight should develop between Freddie and Leo –’ and that was the father and son tomcats that we had – ‘the only way you can do anything about it is to dump water on them,” Katharina explained.

“‘Try to grab Freddie and run out of the room with him. Do NOT try and pick up Leo. Alternatively, if you open a door and just let Freddie get out, he can outrun Leo. But if he’s trapped in a place where you can’t separate them, just keep dumping water, shouting, screaming, jumping up and down, and distracting them, waving shirts, towels,'” Katharina continued.

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Life in the Kubrick household must have been hectic. The image of maniacal felines engaging in deathly battles, and a screaming Stanley throwing water at them and waving his shirt around does bring a smile to our faces though.