Categories: Video

TikTok craze of using a cat as a phone is disrespectful and mildly abusive

Using a cat as a phone. Screenshot. @K0uvr

Young people might find this amusing and fun and I don’t want to be a wet blanket and spoil the fun but this craze of using a cat or dog as a phone is disrespectful of the animals at the very least and it sends out the wrong message to other young people. It sends the message that a cat is an object. When you watch these videos the cats are handled quite brusquely. In one a young cat is thrown down. They have to be because it is part of the re-creation of a telephone conversation from a 2001 film called The Princess Diaries.

The cats are clearly held inappropriately. I don’t want to harp on but I think this should stop. It’s just not sensible. The bottom line is that it is abusive of the cats albeit in a mild way and this social media site should not allow this kind of mild abuse of domestic cat companions. I don’t want to get too technical but this is not part of the original contract between the domestic cat and the human which states that the human should look after the cat and the cat is a companion to the human. They’re meant to be friends and look after each other. The contract does not state that the human can treat the cat as some sort of plaything to be used in a video to acquire lots of views and make the person famous on that social media website.

That is the reason why these kids do this. To get lots of views and to be “successful”. Successful at what? Is this how you measure success? Getting one and a half million views for a stupid video which includes holding a cat like a phone upside down? Is that really what the lives of these kids has come down to? Surely they can do better and be more useful? Surely they can use their time more productively? It seems very self-indulgent to me. It is very self-centred. Yes, I know I’m sounding like an old man and perhaps being unduly critical but I think you will find that most sensible, animal loving people will dislike this.

I can refer to the Canine Behaviour and Training Manager at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home who said that handling pets in this way is distressing to the animal and it puts them at risk of injury. I think that, to be fair, it is unlikely that they’ll be injured but it is a possibility because as I mentioned they throw the cats down as if they’re putting down a telephone handset very quickly.

The craze has been taken up by users in the United States and the UK. The observation is that the cats and dogs are not put down carefully sometimes because that’s part of the craze.


TikTok is a company owned by a Chinese company called Byte Dance (a Chinese multinational internet technology company headquartered in Beijing). There is a lot of discussion at the moment on the news about the connection between TikTok and the Chinese government. There appears to be a direct connection so that there is a fear that this social media site is a business for collecting data which can be used against the West or perhaps it offers a portal or window through which Chinese hackers can promulgate and disseminate false information in the West to undermine countries such as America and the UK to weaken them to the advantage of China. It’s all very political but it is all very real. It has an innocent appearance i.e. it’s fun for the kids but there appears to be a sinister back story and back room. The kids probably know nothing about it at all. As I said they are concerned with entertaining themselves in the fluff of life as opposed to the real and important issues.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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