Because we never miss an opportunity to do spectacularly stupid things here in good old ‘Merica, we’ve politicized the act of wearing a mask, the simplest and most effective way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Since mask-wearing has become a meme as well, a historical photo that apparently shows a cat wearing a mask has been making the rounds. It shows a California family — mom, dad, two boys, two girls and a cat — standing together for a group photo, with each of them wearing a facial covering.
It’s become something of a go-to on social media, used in response to those who believe the virus is a hoax, a minor threat overblown by the US media, or an invention of evil Big Pharma who infected the world — while cackling evilly, presumably — in order to rake in enormous profits from selling the vaccine. (How “Big Pharma” is making billions off a vaccine that doesn’t exist is never explained by the conspiracy theorists.)
The photo was archived by the Dublin (CA) Heritage Park and Museum, and it’s dated from 1920, the third and last year the Spanish Flu spread to every corner of the globe. Between 50 and 100 million people lost their lives to that virus, historians estimate, and it wasn’t until several decades later that scientists understood what they were dealing with.
Snopes spoke to Tyler Phillips, who coordinates the archival material for the Dublin Heritage Park and Museum. Unfortunately, Phillips said, not much is known about the photograph other than that it was taken around 1920.
“The fun thing about this photo is that it does appear that even the cat is wearing a mask, but unfortunately we cannot prove that. The staff here at our museum go back and forth on that same question,” Phillips said. “My personal belief is that it is an optical illusion. I cant imagine any cat staying that calm with a tight fitting mask on their face. Also if you zoom in real close you can start to see the faint features of the cats face (nose and mouth). Since the original photo is pretty small and very old its not much easier to tell looking at it.”
So Snopes says the claim that the cat is wearing a mask is “unproven,” and Phillips thinks it’s an optical illusion.
We here at PITB think it’s a legit mask: We don’t see whiskers or even visual artifacts that would result from pixelated or blurred whiskers at the low resolution of the photo. In addition, it’s perfectly normal for a mask to follow the contours of a face, so that doesn’t rule out a mask. A coat pattern that happens to look exactly like a cloth mask, however, isn’t common.
Lastly, cats are individuals. Some will tolerate masks, some won’t. Buddy would probably try to claw me to death if I made him wear a mask, but your average Maine Coon would probably think, “Yeah whatever is cool, bro!”
One thing’s for sure, though: You won’t see any cats confusing the small inconvenience of wearing a mask with “tyranny” or “oppression,” and you won’t see Kitty Karens pulling the snowflake card in grocery stores, insisting the rules don’t apply to them. Those are uniquely human behaviors.