Alien Cat Matilda was exploited to gain celebrity status vicariously

Alien Cat Matilda was born with a genetic condition which caused her eyes to progressively develop spontaneous lens luxation and glaucoma. The former is a rare condition and both conditions caused her eyes to become huge which in turn made her appearance interesting to humans.

The owners who call themselves the Bearded Man and The Lady (pretentious) opted out of surgery initially. The eye condition required medicine to stay pain free.

Matilda alien cat

Matilda Alien Cat. Photo from Google image search (improved by PoC).

On their website they wrote that as they were dealing with their cat’s eye condition sometimes Matilda would become withdrawn and sad for a couple of days. Sure signs that she was in pain. This was in August 2019.

A specialist veterinarian said that she suffered from glaucoma. Matilda’s owners set up a crowdfunding site to pay for surgery.

Posts from 11 weeks ago on Matilda’s Instagram site shows her without eyes so clearly they decided to remove them. They must have been causing pain and she’s was probably blind anyway. But the Instagram site does not spell this out clearly. Therefore I have to guess.

Matilda after eyes were removed

Matilda after eyes were removed. Photo: Instagram page.

The exploitation?

Am I the only one who sees exploitation of a very sick cat here? It just happened that a tabby kitten from a cat hoarding situation suffered from a nasty eye disease which made her look like an alien (I believe that two siblings also had the same condition). This was an opportunity to exploit. I don’t think the owners made any money from Matilda but they set up an Instagram account which has 149,000 followers. That makes Matilda a cat celebrity, one of many.

I say that cat owners who exploit genetic conditions like this to turn their cats into online celebrities are exploiting the cat so they can become celebrities themselves vicariously (i.e. through their cat). Nearly all these celebrity cats are the same; they have genetic conditions. Grumpy Cat is the most famous. A dwarf cat with facial bone structure which gave her that famous downward pointing mouth. Lil Bub also had anatomical deformity. There are and have been others.

In the world of the cat celebrity it is important that the cat looks different and the odd appearance is often due to an inherited genetic condition which effectively causes ill health. People should not celebrate ill health.

For me it is immoral to exploit these cats for fame and sometimes piles of money. Cole and Marmalade are different as they are not ill, which is a blessing to people like me. It surprises me that no one remarks on the ethical issues underpinning these celebrity cats.

Matilda’s owners compounded their unethical behaviour by begging for money online to pay for surgery. Yes, know I am being harsh in my criticism but for me this is not a good look. It smacks of poor human behaviour to me.

It is likely that the operation to remove Matilda’s eyes was carried out later than recommended in order to preserve her alien appearance. If that was the case it is also likely that she suffered unnecessary pain. What should have happened is that she should have lead a quite life and had the surgery early on. Before the internet and this obsession with cat celebrities this is what would or should have happened.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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