Tag: viral cats

People On Social Media Think A Cat Is Helping Ukrainian Soldiers Dodge Russian Sniper Fire

According to the legend of the “Panther of Kharkiv,” a vengeful house cat has been using his superior feline vision to spot the telltale red laser dots from sniper scopes and warn Ukrainian soldiers they’re targets before snipers can get off a shot.

I imagine it goes something like this:

“Dude, there’s a red dot on your face.”

“You said that 42 times in the last hour.”

“Well, it’s true. Give me my treat as a reward, otherwise I might forget to inform you next time.”

“If I find out you’re lying…”

“Treat, now! Thanks…Mmmm, that’s good. Oh look, there’s another red dot on your head! Quick, take cover and give me another snack!”

Either that or kitty is just launching himself at Ukrainian foreheads, chasing the ever elusive red dot.

Of course you don’t need us to tell you this viral social media story is nonsense, do you?

ukrainian-army-cat
Mmmmm, Elmer’s!

Hundreds of thousands of people have proven themselves more credulous, and continue to share the Panther of Kharkiv posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok and other platforms despite warnings that the story isn’t true. The accompanying photo, while real, is from 2018.

“Complete garbage,” is how Liam Collins, a West Point faculty member and former defense advisor to Ukraine, put it.

Others see these stories as evidence of new frontiers for psychological operations, propaganda and counter-propaganda.

Psy-ops have long been a part of war, from Alexander the Great’s armies leaving giant-size helmets and breastplates in the ruins of conquered cities to seed tales of impossible huge — and unbeatable — Greek invaders, to a CIA-devised plan to drop condoms on Soviet territory.

“Condoms?!?” you ask. “How exactly do condoms help a war effort?”

Because they were intentionally manufactured in ludicrously huge sizes marked “Medium” and “Small” with “MADE IN USA” prominently stamped on the packaging, which would be left for the enemy to discover and, the thinking went, to kill their morale. (There are also reports that US psyops left footlong condoms on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Vietnam, leading terrified Vietcong to hide their women.)

And, famously, US Army psyops drove around in up-armored Humvees during 2004’s bloody battle of Fallujah, blasting the South Park creators’ “America, F— Yeah!” from military sound systems as Marines engaged insurgent forces.

The point is to raise friendly morale, destroy enemy morale, or both, and it makes perfect sense that psyops would move into the digital domain in a war in which cyber warfare has become a major part of the hostilities.

The Panther of Kharkiv, like tall tales of wars past, collapses under scrutiny.

As Snopes correctly notes, snipers don’t actually use little red laser dots. Not only would they be counter-productive at the distances snipers work, when things like atmospheric conditions and wind speed come into play, but using lasers would alert the enemy that they’re being targeted and give away the location of the sniper(s).

The entire point of a sniper is to take out targets over long distances without giving themselves away. They’re not equipped for routine firefights, and the last thing they want is to be stuck somewhere relying on a sidearm while riflemen flank them. That’s asking to get killed.

The second absurdity is the idea that cats can be reliably trained to do anything of military value. The CIA already tried that in the 1960s with Project Acoustic Kitty, when they outfitted cats with listening devices and released them in the vicinity of Soviet targets in an attempt to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Twenty million dollars, a few years and several failed attempts later, the CIA concluded training cats as spies was “not practical.” The problem, of course, is that you can train cats all you want, and maybe the cats even have the best intentions, but then…Oh hai is that a bird? Is that a bird? Yes, it is! I’m chasing the bird! Wait, birdie! Oooh, what’s this on the ground? A bag with a half-eaten burger? How delicious! …

Cats are easily distracted, easily bored, driven to do their own thing, and not really open to suggestions when it comes to telling them where they should walk or lounge.

The Panther of Kharkiv joins The Ghost of Kyiv as a creation of social media, wish-fulfillment figures of legend for the age of information. The latter has been earning praise as a supposed ace fighter pilot who has been terrorizing Russian Su-35 pilots from the cockpit of a Soviet-era MiG-29.

A surprisingly realistic video of the legendary pilot has been making the rounds on social media, but the footage is actually from Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) World, a game made by developers so obsessive that they even model things like the effect of recoil from mounted guns on aircraft operation.

In the viral video, a Su-35 screams overhead as two Ukranians chatter in the background. A shaky camera tracks the jet until a missile fired from out of the frame blasts it to pieces. The MiG-29 follows a millisecond later, dipping its wings in a celebratory gesture as one of the observers says “Oh shit!”

When a simulator looks like this, it’s easier to understand how people could mistake out-of-context, long-range footage for the real thing:

Now if you put a cat in that footage, wearing goggles and flying wing, people would know it’s fake. On second thought, maybe they wouldn’t.

Titanic With A Cat!?

The last time I saw Titanic was in a movie theater 25 years ago when the film was just released, its theme song was befouling airwaves and its director, James Cameron, was playing at deep sea explorer in the Mariana Trench. (Cameron would return for an expedition more than a decade later, matching the depth of a science team who made the dive decades earlier, but doing it solo. His interest had been sparked by the work he did on Titanic.)

I remember feeling restless as the movie dragged out, then incredulous as women and girls all around me sniffled, dabbed at their eyes with tissues and even sobbed! Teenage Big Buddy could not comprehend it.

But this version of Titanic? It’s more my speed, coming in at an economical 1:07 running time and featuringOwlKitty in place of Kate Winslet:

As you can see, Winslet isn’t entirely gone from this cut. She just plays second fiddle to OwlKitty, Leonardo DiCaprio’s first love.

Who’s the Queen of the World now?

Want more OwlKitty? Check out her star turn in Jurassic Park, where she replaced the T-Rex and rampaged around the doomed island looking got catnip and treats.

Russian Woman’s Maine Coon Is The Size Of A Lynx

It’s not easy having a huge cat.

As readers of PITB know, I have first-hand experience with taking care of a massive beast of a cat, with Buddy weighing in at a jaw-dropping 10 pounds, most of it pure meowscle of course.

That means I can sympathize with Russian one-percenter Yulia Minina, who bought a Maine Coon kitten less than two years ago only to see him balloon into an almost 30-pound behemoth — and he’s still growing!

Visitors often mistake Kefir for a large dog at first, Minina said, but the Maine Coon is the kind of gentle giant typical of his species and acts more like “a very affectionate and modest child.”

“When friends and acquaintances come to the house, all the attention is on him and he willingly allows himself to be stroked,” Minina told the UK’s South West News Service.

Kefir the cat
The scary part? Kefir isn’t done growing. Credit: Yulia Minina/Instagram

While most cats are just about their full size after a year, Maine Coons can continue to grow until after their second birthdays. (There’s no evidence that they continue to grow until they’re 5 years old despite claims online, mostly from breeder sites.) That means Kefir, who already looks like a robust lynx, could end up challenging domestic cat size records if he enjoys another growth spurt.

Kefir is just starting to go viral within the past day or two, and as his Instagram follower count (7,288 as of this post) continues to tick up, so do the enquiries from people who want to buy the big guy.

“To everyone who wants to buy my cat, I answer: NOT FOR SALE!” Minina wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. “But I can give all the information about the breeder that many have asked! At the moment, 3 gorgeous snow-white blue eyes are available in the nursery age 1 month. I think you don’t need to praise their beautiful and big parents, you already know everything!”

No word yet if Minina gets a commission on successful referrals to the breeder.

In the meantime, Buddy can rest easy knowing that even if another cat rivals his huge and intimidating presence, he’s all the way in Stary Oskol, a safe 4,873 miles away.

Budzilla the Meowscular
The similarly massive Buddy, who rivals the size of a football. Credit: The Buddy Society for Preservation of Buddy Photographs

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.