Eight days ago The Atlantic‘s Tim Wainwright delivered the most arresting and insightful analysis of the Inside Llewyn Davis cat dynamic that I’ve read so far. “The theory that the cat is an extension of Llewyn also helps put the ending of the movie in context. When Llewyn leaves the Gorfeins’ for the second time in the final scenes of the film, he keeps the cat inside. This comes after he’s finally learned its name: Ulysses. By doing so, I think the uncontrollable, unpredictable Llewyn also comes to terms with a part of himself. He has been awoken from the dream that he’s an undiscovered genius, and from the erroneous notion that talent exists in a vacuum — that any of his poor decisions and arrogant assholery wouldn’t somehow limit his success.”

HE opinion on the meaning of the cat: Zip. Nothing. It’s just something the Coens came up with one day. It felt good so they stuck with it and worked it into the narrative and threw in some echoes and allusions. They said to each other “we need some kind of through-line, some kind of continuity and a cat is better than a puppy because cats are more Llewyn-like, more sullen and self-regarding.”