Too Many ‘Cute’ Pet Videos Are Animal Abuse

I know I’ll probably catch some heat for this, but the below video, which a Newsweek writer gushes over and 8.8 million people favorited, is an example of animal abuse. It may not be violent, it may not be particularly overt, but it’s animal abuse all the same.


She stays in bed like this alllll night 😉 her name is Pishy (pee-she)

♬ Great Mother In The Sky – Lionmilk

I get why people are saying this is “adorable” and think it’s sweet, but anyone familiar with cats can see clearly the kitty does not like being picked up, then placed in a bed on her back. She protests, then moves to get away, but her “owner” clamps her down and presses an admonitory finger to her nose.

Little Pishy’s ears twitch and her eyes dilate. Her owner slides her into position, then holds her down before tucking her in beneath a heavy comforter. Then the woman takes both of the Pishy’s paws, places them deliberately above the comforter just the way she likes them, and finally wags her finger in the cat’s face again before she’s finished, as if to warn her: “Don’t move a paw.”

Just before she steps away, she strokes Pishy’s paw a few times with a finger, an affectionate afterthought on her terms.

This is not love. (Still image from TikTok video.)

Let’s be blunt here: The cat is not enjoying any part of the whole charade. She would almost certainly rather sleep like a cat, and not be treated as an infantilized, anthropomorphized stuffed animal. Her “owner” is dictating everything from the position in which she sleeps to where she can keep her paws.

“She stays in bed like this alllll night ;),” the TikToker brags in the video description.

Of course she does, because she’s probably scared to find out what will happen if she doesn’t. This isn’t a person who considers her cat a living being with her own feelings. She’s a person who sees her cat as a prop and a way to earn the adulation of strangers on the internet.

The same thing applies to all the “cute” videos of cats forced to wear clothing, glasses and hats, and posed in human-like positions. Last week, a short clip of two cats watching an iPad went viral. The cats are snuggled together in a miniature chair, posed like miniature humans. The larger cat has a paw around the smaller cat’s shoulders, and the tablet is balanced between their free paws.

Instead of gushing over the seemingly perfect 8 seconds we see, it’s worth thinking about what we don’t see, and how that manufactured scene came to be. I can assure you it does not involve animals who enjoy being posed like dolls for the benefit of an audience they don’t know exists, on a medium they don’t understand.

Cats dressed and posed as Robin Hood, Bob Ross, Spiderman, the monster from Stranger Things, some sort of naval admiral or Founding Father, and a Stark from Game of Thrones. I think.
A cat who doesn’t understand what a costume is, not enjoying his Freddie Kruger outfit.

I keep coming back to the best advice I ever got about taking care of a cat: The strength of the human-feline bond depends in large part on how much the human takes the cat’s feelings into consideration.

We’re much bigger, stronger and some of us subscribe to the archaic “might is right” way of thinking. Imagine the reverse: Five hundred pound cats as large as tigers, subjecting us to tongue baths at their whim, posing us like dolls and forcing us to sit, stand and sleep in feline positions because it’s “cute.”

I am by no means an expert in cat care, and I don’t pretend to be some sort of cat whisperer or cat guru, but one thing I’ve always done is let my cat decide when he wants affection and interaction. I’ve never grabbed him and held him in my lap, or tried to dress him in miniature samurai armor for social media snaps.

When he meows for a head scratch or lays down on my chest and purrs as he listens to my heart beat, it’s because he wants to be there, and he knows I won’t grab him and force him to stay when he wants to get up.

If I treated him like a doll and tried that tuck-in move with him, he’d claw the hell out of me, and I’d deserve it. He’s my Buddy, not my property or my puppet.

What do you think? Am I overreacting, or are you disturbed by these videos as well?

9 thoughts on “Too Many ‘Cute’ Pet Videos Are Animal Abuse”

  1. You’re not overreacting, big Buddy, not at all. A lot of stuff on TikTok is troublesome, and a lot of animal videos are staged to get upvotes.
    Cats have their own minds and know exactly what they don’t want to do. As long as they don’t cause physical harm to themselves and me I let my cats do as they wish. A cat is a cat, and I like it that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These videos remind me of the videos of wealthy Mandarin-speaking women who adopt days-old baby rhesus monkeys and torture the everliving hell out of them by shaving their fur, dressing them up, tying their hands behind their back and stringing them up by their necks so they learn to stand and walk like humans because it’s “cute,” etc. They love to pose the baby monkeys like dolls. I’ve written a long post about that stuff, as it’s all over YouTube, but it’s so disturbing that I can’t seem to finish it.

      I have no doubt that what happens when the cameras are off is not pleasant.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Yes. You’re absolutely right. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who is so sick of seeing this. I’ve seen ones with dogs, cats, birds, and other animals. If you’ve had dogs or cats, it’s easy to see the body language and how intimated they feel. So, I think these people are idiots. Then, surprise, thousands more idiots say “Aw, how sweet.” I wish more people would pay closer attention and get after these people rather than complimenting their ridiculous attention getting tactics, at the expense of their pets.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Another dark side of social media, since these people are abusing their pets for attention and likes. You’re right, the audience is just as bad for encouraging it.

        Maybe it’s because I’ve always made sure he has the freedom to do what he wants, maybe it’s because he’s an individual with a huge personality, but my cat would shred me if I tried to tuck him in like that and dictate how he sits, lays and puts his paws.


    1. Exactly. Or at least the dignity we’d afford a child, as sometimes we do have to stop cats from doing things that could hurt them. (Kittens teething on wires, for example.) Knowing what an individual my cat is, and how strong his emotions are, I can’t imagine treating him like a doll.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree. We never try to dictate to our four cats what they should do or how they should do it. They decide where and how they want to sleep – usually on my feet, but that’s ok. But if they prefer, on occasions, to sleep elsewhere, that’s ok too (at least then I get to move my feet at night). We never attempt to hold them if they don’t want to be held – with the exception of days like today, when I had to hold them in order to administer spot-on treatment for worms and fleas etc. The 2 young kitties were ok, the old cat sort of ok, and Nero – who is normally very easy to deal with (even at the vet’s) wriggled quite a lot. He hasn’t quite forgiven me yet, but he’ll come next to me on the bed for a cuddle later on tonight – purring thunderously.

    No, cats should be allowed to be cats, not treated like humans to be forced into un-catlike activities.


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