Plethora of animal welfare charities write to Universal Pictures criticising them

The Universal Pictures film Argylle has been described as the most talked about film of 2024. Claudia Schiffer went to the film’s premiere with one of its stars in a backpack on her back; the Scottish Fold whose name is Chip. It made for a great picture. The backpack is one of those modern ones with a Perspex domed window and ventilation holes at the base.

Chip a Scottish Fold in a modern carrier with a Perspex bubble window and ventilation holes in the base in the film Argylle produced by Universal Pictures
Chip a Scottish Fold in a modern carrier with a Perspex bubble window and ventilation holes in the base in the film Argylle produced by Universal Pictures
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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These backpacks are popular and have been made more popular by celebrities like Claudia Schiffer in this instance. And the Scottish Fold has become more popular because celebrities like Taylor Swift adopted a couple of them, one of which, Olivia Benson, is said to have a net worth of $97 million which I have argued is pure fiction (click this link to read about that if you wish).

But the point of this article is that the big businesses such as Universal Pictures almost universally (sorry about the pun) choose to place financial profit above animal welfare.

In this instance, a plethora of animal welfare charities: Cats Protection, BSAVA, International Cat Care, PDSA, Battersea, Woodgreen, Blue Cross, RSPCA, Animal Behaviour and Training Council, Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, and the Pet Industry Federation, have written to Universal Pictures complaining. They are criticising the filmmaker for using a Scottish Fold. In addition, the backpack used by Claudia Schiffer has been criticised by veterinarians as well.

This is a double whammy of criticisms from people who know about animal welfare. Universal Pictures arguably conveniently ignored animal welfare issues because they were jumping on the bandwagon of the popularity of the Scottish Fold as promoted, as mentioned, by Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift is a massive success story in the music industry. She is one of a very few people who have made $1 billion on the back of music. In another post I speculate the reasons why she is so successful and you can read that article if you wish by clicking on this link.

This is a convenient time to publish what Allison Richards, the clinical services at Cats Protection said about Chip being used in the film:

“The impact of using this breed in a Hollywood film cannot be overstated. All Scottish fold cats suffer from variable degrees of painful degenerative joint disease and the underlying genetic defect has far-reaching and severe consequences for their health. They go on to develop painful arthritis and it develops it so reliably that it’s being used as a model to study the gene involved in human arthritis. They’re already very popular on social media and with celebrities so we really worry that this film will cause this to surge even more.”

They also criticised the cat carrier in these words:

“Thought the photos of Chip the cat in a bubble backpack on the red carpet at the Argylle premiere looked fun? Think again. It’s extremely concerning to see a cat exposed to such a stressful environment while contained in an inappropriate carrier.”

The problem with the carriers that it’s going to be stressful for a cat particularly at a film premiere with lots of strangers who they can see through the bubble-shaped Perspex window. The problem is they’ve got nowhere to hide. The cat is trapped. Cats need places to hide when they are stressed.

Sarah Ellis, head of Mental well-being and behaviour at International Cat Care said the following:

“Scruffing a cat is an unacceptable form of restraint that can cause a cat considerable discomfort, fear and even pain, as the weight of its body is completely unsupported, and the cat cannot escape the pressure from its skin being grasped. Backpacks are not a cat friendly way to transport a cat; they can leave a cat cramped, without enough ventilation, struggling to control body temperature, and uncomfortable due to the unpredictable movement from being worn on a person’s back. Backpacks are simply not cat friendly – they do not respect the cat as a species and run the risk of psychological and physical suffering to the cat.”

Apparently, in the film, Chip is handled roughly including scruffing which they say is an unacceptable form of restraint.

The problem with the Scottish Fold is that the cat is inherently unhealthy. I have written many articles about the unhealthiness of the Scottish Fold. The most recent concerns the troubling fact that osteochondrodysplasia is seen in ALL Scottish Fold cats.

Sadly, it is a failing of high-profile celebrities – who could/should do so much for animal welfare – to sometimes exploit the cute face of the Scottish Fold for their own ends and sometimes because they simply like the breed’s appearance. They are cute but the argument is that they should look behind the appearance at the reality.

This would seem to apply to Taylor Swift. She is a great artist and a workaholic. But, in the view of animal advocates she should have adopted three rescue cats rather than purebred cats.

These are two Scottish Folds and one Ragdoll. The Ragdoll featured in the Time magazine’s Person of the Year special in which the Ragdoll was draped over her shoulders (click to see an article on this). This showed the laid-back personality of this breed which is very well known. But I sense that despite my admiration for Taylor Swift she is using her cats to help promote herself.

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