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The Therapeutic Cat


A desperately lonely aged man adopts a cat to keep him company who proves to be extraordinarily companionable. But her qualities might have other intrinsic sources than simple feline nature as she is revealed to be a witch.



Air Dates

  • First Run - November 7, 1977
  • Repeat - April 5, 1978





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19 Responses to Episode 0736

Any of ya'll ever used to read the "Peanuts" comic strip back around the late 60s - early 70s? Remember the little girl named "Frieda" who was quite proud of her "naturally curly hair"? Remember her cat named "Faron" (the cartoonist Charles Schulz said he named the cat after country & western singer Faron Young) that was, say, quite "flexible", and that she used to carry (or rather, wear) around her neck like a mink stole? Well, in this (IMO delightful) episode, Fred Gwynne plays a wealthy retired widower who's quite lonely, but not looking for feminine companionship at this time. His son, played by Paul Hecht, seems to underestimate how lonely his father is, but recommends to his father that he get a cat to keep him company. He tells his Dad that studying the cat will show him how to relax. Gwynne's character scoffs at the notion at first, but as he finds himself ever more isolated finally gives in and gets a cat from his housekeeper's daughter, who picks up abandoned cats. So he relents and gives in, getting a piebald cat like the one above. Within a week after getting the cat he starts studying its every move, getting ever more comfortable to having it in his life. In fact, he gets so comfortable that his son is unnerved in a subsequent visit when he sees his Dad walking around with the cat draped over his shoulders, "Frieda-style". BTW, there's more to that cat than meets the eye...

Jonathan Capay

I really enjoyed this one! I was very surprised to find that the cat was in fact, a Witch. It was a great example of a seducing Witch out for financial gain, becoming seduced her self by the seducee. I think the mother ( the White Witch) should have known that getting a cat from the Black Witch daughter, would spell trouble in her efforts to become a possible new wife to her Boss, Mr. Joyce. I think that Mr. Henry Joyce might want to reconsider getting another cat. It was not the the cat he was in love with, but really the Witch. Anyway, this was in my opinion, one of the" Great Ones."

K. Mullins

I hadn't listened to this one in over a year...then when I recently revisited it I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed it. A few thoughts: 1. From a moral standpoint, I don't like witches, or the thought of a "white witch" (they exist in fairy tales but not necessarily in real life) wanting to become a "gray witch". (Reminds me of the supposedly pure Olivia Newton-John character becoming a leather-clad slut at the end of "Grease" to attract her John Travolta...speaking of the RMT era.) But it makes for an interesting story. 2. I LOOOOVE the jazzy outro (used in several RMTs like "Return of the Moresbys" and "Transmutations, Inc.") at the end of the first act, when Gwynne's character finally decides to get a cat. 3. One of my favorite all-time Fred Gwynne performances. May be my favorite in the RMT. 4. Speaking of black and white...the cat Gwynne got in "The therapeutic cat" was a piebald, like "Sadie" pictured below:


I also forgot to say this is an Elspeth Eric play...I add it to "A horror story" and "Star Sapphire" for my favorite works of hers.


This was an episode that I'd listened to a long while ago. I wasn't a fan of it then, and admittedly, I'm still not a fan of this one. While I find it to be one of Fred Gwynne's finer performances, the story itself just never grabbed me. I think it is in part the RMT's fault... whenever they decide to feature a cat in an episode, the cat always sounds silly. Maybe unnatural is a better word. That could work, I suppose, but I find it grating. Kind of like Mercedes McCambridge in Stephanie's Room when she puts on a "little girl" voice... her voice was just not convincing; the cat in this episode was distacting for me. Also, the idea that two witches would fight over a man is just a bit odd. I mean, women who are serious in the art in the craft are typically quite independent as well as self-sufficient, and do not regard men as terribly necessary. So, for them to "fight" over a man seemed a bit of a stretch. I should add that I'm highly allergic to cats, so as soon as I began listening, my eyes got red and I began sneezing. inkietoo: Not a bad show, but just not one of my personal favorites. I gave it a 4.0, as it was well performed (except that cat!) and produced. A good choice for show! Thank you!!!!

Vlad B.

we've talked about RMT "cats" here before. (You'd think that since it was their logo, they'd have gone out of their way to impersonate a good one.) The best cat I've heard on this program was in one of the very first episodes: "The return of the Moresbys". Reason being? They apparently used the sound effect of a real one. (Good thing they did, as I'm sure those of you who've heard the episode would agree. And it was only used once, but most effectively.)


This one interested me at the beginning because I have the winter blahs, or "something" (as Henry puts it). Well, I don't have a cat, but my dog is pretty theraputic. I liked the little string/harp music with the cat observations and I am enjoying the Fred Gwynne 'marathon'. A little trivia I saw on one website: he appeared in 79 episodes of RMT. He has such a familiar and interesting voice. I like the way he stutters and much character. He is one of my favorites! I was surprised that mother Bingham didn't catch on to the cat - her being a witch and Denise being her daughter?? I also don't care for the cat sound effects (in any episodes - there have been worse). I can do a much better one...drives my dog nutty!

Mr. Formanez

I agree, Ang... Gwynne's technique of delivery is unique and not heard often, especially today. I studied voice-over for a while, and my favorite teacher, Will LeBow, most popular for a character on the cable show Dr. Katz, taught us the same technique. He called it "believable stumbling" or something to that effect, and it is normal to speak this way... so much so, that the listener often identifies more with the character without being aware. Another thing he taught us was to use our arms and hands when we speak. The vocal delivery can be climaxed, balanced, and completely controlled by using one's body to push the presence of the voice. Point is, I can just imagine the studio full of RMT players all waving their arms and hands about while performing some of these roles. They must have had an absolute BLAST!

Tony Mend

I listened to an awesome one last night, with a guy who retired and was lonely then got a cat who turned out to be a witch, was going to skip it because it sounds ridiculous but was mint. More like the detective-like ones but that one was mint. It even had a funny twist at the end as well. It's funny ...I read the descriptions of a lot of shows and i'm like, "Meh", but they often turn out better then they sound.


I listened to an awesome one last night, with a guy who retired and was lonely then got a cat who turned out to be a witch, was going to skip it because it sounds ridiculous but was mint. .I read the descriptions of a lot of shows and i'm like, "Meh", but they often turn out better then they sound.


I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. Not only this is one of the best episodes of CBSRMT, this is one of the best episodes written by Elspeth Eric. So much characterization, so much compelling dialogue, so many twists & surprises in every scene. This story is so astonishing, I wish that there was a Sequel; another episode to continue this Fantasy-Mystery that was truly “spell-binding!” And speaking of astonishing, our cast: Fred Gwynne (as Henry Joyce: the widower), Paul Hecht (as Jack Joyce: the son), Bryna Raeburn (as Jane Bingham: the White Witch), and Jada Rowland (as Denise Bingham: the Black Witch and Denny: the Cat). Paul Hecht & Bryna Raeburn played good roles, but Fred Gwynne & Jada Rowland, these 2 ran the show! Fred Gwynne’s performance was so believable; it felt like you could put yourself in his position from feeling blue in a mid-life crisis, to feeling happy with a companionable feline, to feeling surprised that the cat & the housekeeper are actually witches. Listen to the way Fred Gwynne speaks at the 25-minute mark on how the therapeutic cat meant everything to the character. Listen to him say, “Poo poo the idea” at the 21-minute mark; it’s funny to hear. And listen to the way he says, “Good Lord” at the 29-minute mark; sounded like he was spellbound. Jada Rowland is my favorite actress in the CBSRMT series. Her role as Denny the Cat was “purrrrrrr-fect!” And her role as a witch was hypnotic. The sound effects of the tableware, doorbell, coffee cup spill, rotary phone ringing, the doors, the lamp switch, howling wind blowing from the East for the Sabbath General, and pouring of the brandy were delightful to hear. The music was enchanting, mystifying, and once again, “spell-binding.” I did not forget our Host. In his Prologue, E.G. Marshall brings up the definition of the cat. In ACT-1, he continues the definition, only this particular feline is therapeutic. Later, he quotes Charles Caleb Colton who said, “Imitation is its sincerest form of flattery,” meaning to copy someone is an implicit way of paying them a compliment. In ACT-2, he was very informative on the history of women that were thought to be witches; such as Margaret Elmore, Mother Shipton, Rachel Pender, and Elizabeth Woodville (a.k.a. the Duchess of Bedford). At the end of ACT-3, he informs us on the history witches; from ancient times to the present. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall advises us to watch our cat, especially on nights when the wind is rising in the East. Informative & amusing our Host was. I highly recommend this CBSRMT episode to everyone! Whether you’re a fan from the beginning or beginning to become a fan of this series, this is a story that defines CBSRMT and that goes the same with #0367-THE SUMMER PEOPLE, #0167-THE BLACK ROOM, #0957-HICKORY, DICKORY, DOOM, #0002-THE RETURN OF THE MORESBYS, #0591-THE WHITE WOLF, and many others. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =^D


Absolutely hilarious! Had my dad, sister and daughters all listen! I loved it!


The story is really cute, up until his cat turns into a witch and then it all goes downhill from there. I enjoy Fred Gwynne's performance and the way he relates to the cat is adorable. So why ruin it, Elspeth, lol? It was good the way it was and then it just gets plain silly! I am not fond of most of the cat stories on this series. As others here pointed out, the cat sound effects usually sound unnatural or just plain stupid. Other times, the sound effects are okay, but the cat owners are portrayed as weird, or crazy. The cats are often evil or turn out to be evil beings in disguise. This is an example of a cat-in-disguise story. It becomes a let down in this story when a seemingly normal little cat turns into a witch and then fights with her mother over the guy. It's just stupid, although the story started out well and it could have been much better if Elspeth had somehow taken it in another direction.


There is some element of this story that somehow reminds me of another Elspeth Eric story ("The Stuff of Dreams") about a strange woman who hires a young girl to "live" for her. The old woman stays home daydreaming about rape fantasies. Then the girl she hired tells her that her boyfriend just got out of jail, and the old woman wants to meet the boyfriend. The boyfriend is a creepy character, but the way the actor plays him makes him interesting and entertaining to listen to....until he turns out to be the devil in disguise. Like with this story, it gets stupid from there, lol! I'm not comparing cats to the devil or anything, btw, lol! I love cats and that's not the point of my comment. I am just noticing the "disguise" element that shows up in both stories, and also noticing that both stories could have been interesting IF the objects of "disguise" hadn't been disguised in the first place.


I could not get through this. Typical Elspeth Eric wander through an old man's rambling mind. Boring.


Elspeth Eric is consistently the worst writer in the series. She could create a memorable character like Henry Joyce but then completely messed up the story with something taboo, weird, or “evil” (which I suppose she thought was the drawing point; after, all it was the ‘70s). I dislike the weirdness angle, which more often than not has a level of absurdity to it, in almost every one of her stories but I suppose that is why others are such fans of her work. Oh, and the cat sounds really are DREADFUL.


I love CBSRMT in general, but I absolutely hate most of their "cat" episodes. Usually, the cats turn into evil so-called "witches" or some other creature, or the cat "owners" are depicted as weird, evil, eccentric, or just creepy. My question is why? (We're lucky that CBSRMT didn't have all that many cat stories.) Also, why the horrible sound effects sometimes? There is nothing worse than a human trying to sound like a cat, and doing a terrible job, lol! On a show of such high quality, it is really out of place to have stupid cat sound effects, lol!


CATS are awesome, therapeutic, kick behind, and RULE! Is not why we are all here???? Hence the LOGO to LEGOS! VIVA CATS!


Cats? Elspeth Eric? No thank you.

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