Bor­der­ing on abuse

Some Chi­nese cat own­ers and vets call on peo­ple to treat their four-legged friends prop­erly when shoot­ing on­line videos

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Lin

Xu Yi­long, a 27- year-old med­i­cal worker who lives in Beijing, calls her­self a “true cat lover.” She has four cats, two Amer­i­can Short­hair cats and two street cats she took in offff the street. She loves to take photos and videos of them and posts

clips on her WeChat Mo­ments, Weibo and the re­cent pop­u­lar short video plat­form Douyin.

“There is a say­ing that the in­ter­net be­longs to cats,” Xu said, adding that cat videos are among the most pop­u­lar videos on­line. Al­most ev­ery­one loves to watch them to have a good laugh and re­lax, she as­serts.

“How­ever, some cat own­ers have started to abuse their cats for at­ten­tion on­line, es­pe­cially on Douyin,” Xu said. “Many cat own­ers, my­self in­cluded, op­pose such be­hav­ior be­cause it may hurt the cats, men­tally and phys­i­cally.”

Last month, a woman nick­named “Ya­nen” up­loaded a short video on Douyin. In the video, she put her cat on the rail­ing of an out­door balcony on the 32nd floor. The cat looked rather scared and shiv­ered con­tin­u­ously, but she only laughed and typed “I wanted to be vi­ral on­line too” as the ti­tle of the video.

Later, it was found that the cat fell from the rail­ing and died, which an­gered many cat lovers in China. They blamed at­ten­tion-seek­ing cat own­ers who want to be­come pop­u­lar on­line and Douyin for the cat’s death, claim­ing that the app en­cour­ages the be­hav­ior by mak­ing such videos hot on­line.

Zhang Meng, a 29-year-old cat owner in Shang­hai, said he re­grets mak­ing his cat im­i­tate the so-called “cat dance” on Douyin. To make a cat dance, its owner holds its front paws and forces it to make dif­fer­ent steps to music.

“There was a video of a man vig­or­ously rub­bing his cat’s head, and it was re­ally funny. Also, nu­mer­ous peo­ple were mak­ing their cats per­form the Sea­weed Dance (a pop­u­lar Chi­nese song with a quick rhythm and rap),” he said. “So, I tried it with my cat and also made some videos.”

How­ever, af­ter mak­ing the video, his cat got an­gry, fought with him and scratched his hands. It also looked dizzy and scared and even fell out of its cat tree af­ter it fled out of Zhang’s hands. Al­though it was not phys­i­cally hurt, Zhang blamed him­self for mak­ing it un­com­fort­able.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu Guan­shun, a vet­eri­nar­ian at the Shang­hai Guan’ai Pet Clinic, the phys­i­cal struc­ture of cats is best suited to for­ward and back­ward move­ment. So, if their legs are forced to turn around and swirl to make poses, their shoul­der joints could get hurt.

“If a cat is fre­quently forced to do poses, when it grows older, the in­jury may be more se­ri­ous, and it may give them arthri­tis,” Liu said.

Liu also warned that it is bad for cats’ health to put makeup on them, in­clud­ing lipstick, eye shadow and blush.

“Cos­met­ics for hu­mans con­tain many chem­i­cals which are toxic to an­i­mals and can even lead to per­ma­nent kid­ney dam­age and re­nal fail­ure if they lick the makeup and eat the chem­i­cals,” Liu said.

Xu agreed with Liu. She said she also watched many clips that make fun of cats, and it is very ob­vi­ous that the cats were scared, de­pressed and at a loss.

Some cat own­ers put trans­par­ent ad­he­sive tape across door­ways and then trick their cat to walk into it with snacks. When the cats run to­ward their own­ers, they hit the tape and fall, Xu said.

In an­other clip, a cat owner pun­ished her cat by stuff­ing it into a pair of stockings be­cause it de­stroyed many pairs of new stockings.

“I will never do that to my cats be­cause I can tell that the cats are not happy at all. You can see how sad they feel af­ter their own­ers’ be­trayal,” Xu said. “It is com­mon among cat own­ers that when your cat does some­thing bad, you catch them and teach them right where it hap­pened, or they would feel con­fused and an­gry and not un­der­stand why you treated them like that.”

Ac­cord­ing to Liu, if a cat is scared, in pain or em­bar­rassed for a long time, it may lose its ap­petite, and its spir­its may drop, which will lead to a de­crease in im­mu­nity.

“Al­most ev­ery cat car­ries var­i­ous kinds of viruses, like fe­line coro­n­avirus,” Liu said. “When a cat’s im­mu­nity level is nor­mal, the viruses do not af­fect their health, but if their im­mu­nity is low, the viruses may in­vade and cause many se­ri­ous dis­eases like fe­line in­fec­tious peri­toni­tis, which is an in­cur­able dis­ease.”

Xu and Liu both said they hope cat own­ers can be ra­tio­nal and not blindly im­i­tate the Douyin videos.

“First, Douyin should ban ac­counts sus­pected of cat abuse and delete their videos and then cat own­ers should post videos show­ing the cor­rect way to love one’s cat,” Xu said. “Do unto cats as you would like done unto you.”

Photo: IC

Two women take a selfie with a cat.

Cat own­ers are en­cour­aged to post videos that show them in­ter­act­ing with their pets in a more lov­ing way, in­stead of shar­ing clips that make fun of them.

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