When does celebrating the cat become exploitation?

Cats Wearing Tights

Cats Wearing Tights. Exploitation or fun?

When does celebrating the cat become cat exploitation? It is a difficult subject and believe me I like fun and larking around. The answer is in (a) the purpose behind the person’s creation – is the real purpose financial gain or personal recognition for the person? And (b) what the cat does – is the cat forced or tricked, in some way, to do something unnatural or something he does not want to do or would not do when expressing normal behaviour? If the answer to both questions is “yes” then it is exploitation.

In cat exploitation, we are nearly always referring to a video or a photograph. It is hard to exploit a cat in words alone. This is because in videos and photographs something has to be done to or with the cat to make the imagery. Words use imagination. There are no physical actions.

The first problem is that some people won’t understand what exploiting the cat means because they believe consciously or subconsciously that cats are for the benefit of people and their use. With that mentality it is impossible to exploit a cat.

The exploitation of animals can take many forms some of which are very subtle. It can look perfectly innocent and just fun, but is it? Is the video below celebrating the cat and a just a bit of fun or is it exploiting the cat for financial gain? Perhaps it is somewhere in the middle? Below the video I state why I believe it is exploitation.

This person who runs the YouTube channel (website) where you find this video promises to make a video every Tuesday and Friday. This is what he or she states:

“Watch new video every Tuesday and Friday! To use this video in a commercial player, advertising or in broadcasts, please email Viral Spiral (contact@viralspiralgroup.com) “

His purpose is commercial because (a) his videos have Google adverts on them to make money and (b) the cats are being teased to “perform” and (c) he makes the videos regularly like a job or business. For these reasons I argue that this person is exploiting his cats.

Another version of exploitation dressed up as fun is putting cats in a woman’s tights (see picture heading article). The person who has started this mini-craze has a “Cats Wearing Tights”  Facebook page and states:

 “The page went from around 400 likes to 100,000 likes in about 48 hours.”

Great but….

He goes on to say that he gets the tights on his cats this way:

“My favourite though is giving your cat lots of cuddles and lulling it into a false sense of security……subtly slide some tights onto them then take a picture before they quite realise what is going on.”

If I apply my test of (a) purpose and (b) what the cat has to do, I have to conclude that this is also exploitation.

The purpose is to achieve some sort of celebrity status for the person and the cat has to do something unnatural. I realise it is not a big deal but it is a minor form of cat exploitation.

What is a good example of celebrating the cat? There are thousands of examples on PoC. All are equally good. Marc’s memorial to Red and the pages on Chester and Dylan are classics but as I state there are many equally good examples.

The vast majority of people won’t understand what I am stating. I accept that.

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When does celebrating the cat become exploitation? — 8 Comments

  1. That video isn’t very nice, yes for a short while it was amusing watching those kittens little heads go up and down but it went on too long, cats need to be allowed to ‘catch their prey’ being waved about or it’s no fun for them. So I’d say making that video was exploitation.
    I hate seeing cats in human clothes, that’s exploitation too, because it’s something they wouldn’t choose to do themselves and cats hate to be laughed at, laughed with yes, but not laughed at!
    But cats are so very easy to exploit and will be as long as people think of them as possessions, there for them to use as they want to.
    Like ‘Grumpy cat’ she wouldn’t choose the life she has to live because someone made her famous, cats don’t want to be famous, they just want to be cats.
    Dylan enjoys going out meeting people occasionally but the rest of the time his life is his own, to enjoy doing what cats do. Chester is well photographed yes but he doesn’t mind that, in fact he’s quite a poser lol
    We all love to take photos of our cats and show them off but that doesn’t affect our cats lives, we don’t seek to profit from their photos but we do share them for our own pleasure, not theirs.
    But I don’t think that’s exploitation because it doesn’t affect their quality of life as a cat and I think everyone here puts their cats welfare and feelings first.

  2. I agree with Ruth and Michael – all whats been said on here really. I think a very important factor is the individual character of the cat(s) involved. Lilly is a very active and curious cat and often does very silly things and she seems to enjoy making me smile and laugh – she is very silly at times. But Gigi is another kettle of fish – she is far more sensitive – I am careful when I laugh because I know for her it’s a different thing and obviously depending on where and when it just would be rude more than anything to laugh at her without anything more – she doesn’t like it so much. Every cat is different. My Gigi in Canada was the same – she didn’t have a big sense of humour as I call it and I learned to be sensitive to that through her. Sometimes a friend would be over and laugh at her and I knew it was bothering her in that particular moment so I’d cut in and change the subject to avoid people just laughing ‘at’ her and making her feel uncomfortable.

    But Lilly would never have this kind of difficulty most of the time. She does it on purpose I am almost sure of it. If I laugh she carries on – she really makes me laugh outloud for ages sometimes and she seems to like that alot. Alot of joy with her.

    Cats, like humans, are all different. Some humans won’t accept even a giggle and others would love you to laugh at them over and over – I believe the same kind of extent of difference exists within cats.

  3. I don’t mind my photo being taken, this is me this morning playing ‘tape measures’ with Ruth the other side of the door. I’m very photogenic lol
    Anyone tried to exploit me I’d give ’em short shrift.

  4. Well I’d rather play ‘tickling sticks’ with Ruth and I’ve had my photo taken so many times I’m quite a star and don’t mind a bit.

  5. Lovely pics Ruth and Barbaras boys I really must invest in a camera so I can take some of mine.
    I hate to see cats exploited putting them in tights is just stupid and not funny.
    I sometimes wonder what some people put cats through to get videos just to make people laugh it’s not right.
    Soon we’ll be having cats in Santa Claus clothes and hats popping up everywhere those people need something better to do with their time.

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