An animal welfare campaigner, Wendy Turner Webster, claims that the Internet has given a platform to idiots, to use her words. She believes that the craze for terrifying cats with cucumbers is cruel. I agree with her, completely.
“What an ignorant person perceives as being very funny, responsible pet owners would know immediately that it is not in the least bit funny and shouldn’t be touted about as such.
“To me a prime example is when people show animals in silly clothes, especially around Halloween. Most of the time it’s not cute at all, it’s humiliating.”
Researchers with the veterinarian organisation, Vets4Pets, have concluded that so-called ‘funny cat videos’ which have been around since the beginning of YouTube, and indeed videos showing rabbits and dogs, could be causing harm to the animals in the video.
Researchers watched a sample of viral pet videos. They featured stressed dogs, cats and rabbits. Domestic cats suffered the most stress and distress, being present in 34% of cat videos watched.
The director of clinical services at Vets4Pets said:
“As vets we recognise that many of the top videos online today actually involve pets displaying signs of distress or anxiety.”
As there are millions of amusing online videos featuring cats, this amounts to hundreds of thousands of potentially stressed cats. The key point to be made is that the videos are unnecessary except that they are designed to earn an income for the creators. However, they produce the videos at the expense of the health and welfare of the cats concerned.
Since Grumpy Cat began to become famous, I have always argued that these sorts of videos are essentially an abuse of domestic cats. They fail to respect the cat. Obviously some of them are not as bad as others but judging by the research a high percentage could be deemed to be cruel.
With respect to the cat videos, the researchers watched hundreds of randomly selected popular cat videos online. They decided that aggression was seen in 15% of the videos. The signs were classic namely flat ears and a brush tail seen in about 10% of the videos. In videos showing cats falling from a height, 15% of the cats were stressed. Of those cats falling into water, 5% were deemed to be stressed.
It appears that when a cat is frightened because, for example, a cucumber is placed behind her, it is amusing for a large number of people. I must be missing something because I’ve never found it amusing to see a cat being deliberately frightened.
Cucumbers and bananas placed behind a cat triggers a natural startle reflex as the object can be perceived as a threat. It is particularly unsettling when the object is placed in a place which the cat regards as safe such as a feeding area.
One “cat cucumber” video has been seen 36 million times in one year. No doubt this video made the creator quite a lot of money through advertising but, as mentioned, at the expense of their cat.
There are also very many funny dog videos. Some show dogs grinning which people interpret as meaning that the dog is happy. But these dogs are actually displaying submissive behaviour known by experts as appeasement. They exhibit this behaviour to calm a situation down to make them less threatening. It’s a response to feeling anxious sometimes.
To refer to Wendy’s comment that YouTube provides a platform for idiots. I have to agree. It isn’t just the videos which can often be idiotic and abusive of animals, it’s the comments too. There are billions of rude, insulting comments on YouTube but nobody has ever done anything about it. It is a race to the bottom and cats are the innocent victims.
P.S. It isn’t just funny cat videos which can frighten cats who are in the videos. There are many videos showing men and boys hurting cats. They think it is clever. A complete loss of moral compass.
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Source: The Sentinel (and myself).