Best Friends Blog

When funny viral videos aren’t funny at all

Photo of gray and white cat rolled onto back with toy mouseCats and the Internet go together like, well, cats and the Internet! That’s been true as long as the Internet has been around.

The love of all things “cat” has given rise to mega-million-dollar cat celebrities with their own brands. Last year, we saw the release of the movie “Grumpy Cat’s Worse Christmas Ever.” (I’d be grumpy too if I was dragged around like that poor kitty.) Then we have such things as Internet cat video festivals, and CatCon, a convention solely devoted to our furry friends.

Some of these cat memes come and go, but many stay around for a long time. Most are funny and, thankfully, help brighten some otherwise dreary days — like when your Facebook news feed is full of otherwise depressing news.

But a new trend has popped up, and this one isn’t funny at all.

The basic premise is this: Your cat is quietly eating at his or her food bowl. You, the aspiring comedian, place a cucumber behind your cat — yes, a cucumber. Your cat finishes that meal, turns around and is horrifically frightened at the sight of the vegetable. You videotape the whole encounter and put it on YouTube, where it’s shared thousands of times.

Realizing that they could make their own cat a star, people think it’s a cute idea and do the same. Soon the Internet is flooded with videos of poor frightened cats.

Let’s be clear: Intentionally frightening a pet is abusive, and laughing at a frightened pet is twisted. How is this different, in essence, than getting your giggles by frightening toddlers?

It’s just not a good idea. First of all, your pets trust you. They feel safe in the environment they share with you, and anything you do to change that violates that trust and erodes the bond you have with your pet. The other thing that can happen is that your cat learns that the food area is no longer a safe place, or that it’s not safe to eat when you are around.

Stress degrades a cat’s immune system and opens the door to other issues. Likewise, anxiety can cause a boatload of problems, including destructive behavior or not using the litter box. These are among the issues commonly named as reasons why cats are taken to a shelter, which only compounds the level of stress and anxiety.

So the bottom line here is don’t be a jerk! Don’t do this to your cat. And if you see someone sharing one of these videos, politely remind him or her that scaring the heebie-jeebies out of an innocent animal for fun is not only inhumane, it’s not the least bit funny.

If you are looking for a cute cat video to share, try this one instead.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Teresa Childers

    I saw this video. I remember being told that Copperhead snakes smell like cucumbers. The cats are probably thinking there is a snake behind them. What stress!!!!

  • Dawn Nelson

    Great blog post!! A person has to be twisted to think it’s funny to scare a pet. And thank you for relating this to scaring toddlers because it’s the same darned thing.