Tag: tikTok

Are Schools Forced To Accommodate Kids Who ‘Identify As Cats’?

Two curious stories relating to cats have been circulating online this week: In the first story, a substitute teacher claims she was fired because she refused to meow back to a student who “identifies as a cat,” while parents in a Michigan school district were infuriated by a rumor that the district was providing litter boxes to cat-identified students in school bathrooms.

First, the obvious, or perhaps not-so-obvious considering the media attention and outrage surrounding both stories: Neither one is true.

Why did people believe them? Because we’ve gone insane as a society, of course, and basic reality now means different things to different people depending on their political ideologies. If you’re on the left, you might think parents who aren’t sophisticated news consumers are so paranoid about school curricula, they’d believe just about anything. If you’re on the right, you’re might argue that some schools have gone so overboard with political correctness, it’s not a stretch to imagine privileges conferred on the allegedly cat-identified.

For those of us who subscribe to neither ideology, the whole thing is another sad example of the polarization that is destroying the US, the same divisive talk amplified by platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

But that’s beyond the scope of this blog, which is to celebrate cats, have a laugh and occasionally put the spotlight on animal welfare. I don’t want to lose readers by wading into a political landmine field, but most importantly I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome on this site.

The Michigan incident started when a mom of kids at the Midland School District, about 130 miles northwest of Detroit, spoke at a school board meeting about a rumor — which she took as fact — alleging the school was accommodating “furries” by providing litter boxes in unisex bathrooms.

Lisa Hansen asked other parents to join her to “do some investigating” into the policy

“I’m all for creativity and imagination, but when someone lives in a fantasy world and expects other people to go along with it, I have a problem with that,” Hansen told the Midland school board. “This whole furry thing has just got me. I’m staying calm, but I’m not happy about it, and it’s happened on your watch, and I don’t understand it.”

Here’s the video: (It should start at the relevant section, but if it doesn’t, Hansen speaks at the 32:44 mark)

Hansen’s claims were picked up and reshared by a state GOP chairwoman, Meshawn Maddock, who warned “Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools” in a Facebook post.

The school’s superintendent, Michael Sharrow, was forced to do damage control with a public statement, telling parents it’s a “source of disappointment that I felt the necessity to communicate this message to you.”

“There is no truth whatsoever to this false statement/accusation,” Sharrow wrote. “There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools.”

The story about the fired substitute also had its roots in an online video, with a woman who says she’s a teacher relating the story via TikTok. The woman, who uses the handle @crazynamebridgetmichael, said she was taking attendance when a student responded to his name with feline vocalizations.

“I get to the third row and I hear this ‘meow!’ ‘Uhhh, excuse me? Excuse me?'” she said in the TikTok video. “I start looking on the ground, through the fourth row—everything’s good. Go to the fifth row—everybody’s there. Then I hear ‘meow!’ I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s up with that? Who’s doing it?’ And this little girl in the very front row says, ‘You have to meow back at him; he identifies as a cat.’ Are you kidding me?”

The student stormed out of the classroom when she laughed at him, she said, and the school’s administration fired her: “They said ‘We no longer need your services if you can’t identify with all the children in the classroom.'”

The story was picked up by several widely-read sites, included in Tucker Carlson’s daily newsletter, and reshared on prominent Twitter accounts in addition to going viral on Facebook.

PJ Media: The Substitute and the Cat
The story was widely shared on social media and reported by a few dozen online media outlets.

The Cat and the Substitute

The only problem is it isn’t true. In a follow-up video the teacher admitted she made up the story to “create awareness of what kids are going through at school.” She didn’t elaborate, so it’s not clear if she was criticizing school policies for allowing students to identify as different genders or arguing that kids’ needs aren’t accommodated. Occam’s Razor would indicate she was just chasing clicks.

The one thing that’s certain, however, is that cats don’t deserve to be in the middle of this mess.

Top image: A 20-year-old Norwegian woman who identifies as a cat. The woman says she was “born the wrong species.” “My psychologist told me I can grow out of it, but I doubt it,” she told an interviewer. “I think I will be cat all my life.”

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.

@cowlashes

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.

Pishy
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.

35034672-0-image-a-20_1604054071717
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.
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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?

Can You Spot The Cat In This Video?

A woman named Gosia had a clever solution to a landlord visit in an apartment where pets aren’t allowed.

She hid her patient and trusting cat, Larry, in a pile of stuffed animals. Can you spot the little guy? Finding him was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, although PITB readers are usually a lot better than I am at Where’s Waldo? Cat Edition:

Just so we’re clear, this would never work with Buddy. As soon as there’s a knock or a buzz, he dashes for the front door and waits there impatiently for me to open it so he can see who’s on the other side, meowing excitedly the whole time.

But assuming I was able to somehow get him to stay and tolerate serving as the keystone in a stuffed animal pyramid, I doubt he’d make it one minute before forgetting he’s supposed to hide, bounding over to the landlord and chatting away like he always does.

Someone Has To Rescue This Poor Cat

A real estate agent in Texas was filming video for his TikTok channel, sarcastically providing a voice-over in which he promises a “look at the beauty of rental houses when the tenants move out.”

As the agent, who goes by the name Felix Jaimes on TikTok, showed broken blinds, inexplicably removed wood floor panels, a cracked mirror, dirty bathroom and garbage left everywhere. Then he heard noise coming from another room.

“Honestly I got scared, I thought someone was in there because the house was pretty much empty,” Jaimes explained later in the comments.

But he didn’t find a burglar — just a terrified, depressed-looking cat huddling in the corner of a closet.

“He was obviously scared,” Jaimes wrote. “My heart broke” for him.

“Immediately I thought they left their cat behind. What kind of people do that,” Jaimes asked. “I thought they had just abandoned the place since they destroyed it.”

After calling and sending text messages to the tenant, she called Jaimes back and said she wasn’t finished moving out.

“When I came back, the cat was gone,” Jaimes said.

The video was posted on Dec. 7. It’s not clear from Jaimes’ profile exactly where he is — or where the home is located — in Texas, but perhaps some sharp-eyed Texan will be able to tell from the exterior shots at the beginning of the video.

Regardless, the video is distressing. It seems to me that organizations like county-level SPCAs — which employ animal welfare officers with law enforcement jurisdiction when it comes to animal abuse and welfare investigations — are made to handle cases like this, not just the “saving 50 cats from a hoarding situation” stories we hear all the time.

At the very least, the SPCA’s law enforcement division should locate the owner, interview her, check on the cat and have him brought in for a veterinary exam. If they don’t like what they see, they should confiscate the cat and take extra care to place him with people who know how to treat cats and will give him the love he deserves.

Maybe everything really is on the up-and-up and just looks bad, but someone who really knows cats — and loves them — would never leave their kitty in an empty apartment, cowering in a closet and believing he’s been abandoned. That’s why it should be investigated. Better safe than sorry.

TikTokers Are Intentionally Traumatizing Their Cats With Christmas Trees

Proving once again that social media has little or no redeeming value, TikTokers have latched onto a trend that has them using Christmas trees to terrify their cats.

The trend was started by a user who shared a “hack” she’d invented: Chase your chat around your home while wielding your new Christmas tree like a weapon, she said, and the cat won’t mess with the tree or its ornaments the rest of the holiday season.

“If you chase your cat around with the Christmas tree, it’ll be too scared to f**k with it,” said the “hack” originator, @alexisjj_.

User “@becs.richards” racked up more than 25 million views with a video that shows her holding her Christmas tree and thrusting it like a lance toward her confused and scared cat. She wore a big smile as she did so, and set the video to upbeat Christmas music.

Terrorizing your cat is a bad idea, author Anita Kelsey told Newsweek.

“A cat will not have any idea why you are causing them stress or fear and, more than likely, frightening a cat with a Christmas tree can lead to the cat being fearful of the room the tree is in, fearful of the tree, urinating around the home or on the tree and urinating on anything around the tree—like presents,” said Kelsey, author of Let’s Talk About Cats. “It also can cause a breakdown of trust between the cat and the person trying to frighten them.”

Daniel Cummings of the UK’s Cat Protection nonprofit said the method may seem successful, but it “doesn’t take into account how cats learn” and could cause long term problems.

“No cat owner would want to intentionally stress out their cat,” he said, “and part of cat ownership is accepting their natural behaviors.”

Unfortunately this newest trend isn’t surprising, especially coming from a user base of people who happily hand over their user data to the Chinese government, which controls TikTok and makes use of its data just as it does with any other ostensibly “private” company operating in China. There have been more than enough investigative stories illustrating how the Chinese government weaponizes data for any reasonable person to avoid platforms like TikTok.

I’m fortunate that Buddy is a good boy and mostly doesn’t mess with Christmas trees. He’s swiped a handful of ornaments off branches in the past, but so what? He’s a living being with feelings, and ornaments are just things.

Besides, as Cummings notes, curiosity and playfulness are part of the deal when we adopt cats. If people aren’t up for that, they shouldn’t adopt.

Top photo credit Jessica Lynn Lewis/Pexels.