There are 600 people in a queue that snakes around the corner of a street in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals. They are all waiting in line for that magical moment when they get to hold, be close to and, yes OMG, to be photographed with Grumpy Cat. Here are some results:
I wrote about what I consider to be the exploitation of Grumpy Cat (Tardar Sauce) in a previous post. The post received lots of comments. Some agreed with me and some were totally opposed. I suppose this is normal. However people do seem particularly polarised in their views. It may be the case that being British I have a different attitude to cat welfare than many Americans.
I accept that Tardar Sauce’s owners do care about their cat’s welfare. This is what they say, anyway. Their concern seems to be overcome by a desire for fame and fortune achieved vicariously through their cute and unique cat. Can you compromise cat welfare for the sake of money and fame? This seems to be what the Grumpy Cat story is about.
The photo shoots were limited in duration but there are still 600 people to satisfy and anyone who knows cats realises that it is not ideal, with respect to cat welfare, to hawk your cat around the country and plonk her down in a strange place with strange people for a couple of hours while a photographer captures the moment.
It doesn’t look dignified to me. Would I let hundreds of complete strangers handle my cat for a couple of hours like this? I can’t believe that I would. It feels wrong to me because I know my cat would dislike it and be anxious.
I still maintain that no one knows how Tardar Sauce feels on a day-to-day basis. The owners say she has been checked out and everything is fine etc. Vets are not perfect. They don’t have all the answers and this cat has congenital dwarfism and bone deformities that give her that unique expression. How do we know for sure she is not feeling some discomfort that accompanies these deformities?
I won’t go on and on. It is boring. I just feel that my initial post was justified when I see the video and photos on this page. I understand the fun aspect of the whole thing and Tardar is adorable. For me, however, the spectacle hints at the flaws in the relationship between animals and people.
Update: there is a free Grumpy cat campaign of some sort. The idea is to free her from forced labour as someone has said. I wouldn’t use that phrase but…