COVID-19 has brought with it some challenging times. We are spending more time on social media but our interactions are not always as positive as we would like, causing us more stress and inner turmoil. However on a more positive note there are all those cute cat and dog videos for us to enjoy. Cat videos in particular transport us into the world of cuteness, giving us a 30 second or 2 minute break from the real world. Once you have watched one cat video you are hooked into watching more and before you know it, it is lunchtime already.
There are many content providers looking to produce the next viral video. These videos rack up millions of views. Cat videos are very popular purely because cats are ever so cute and they warm our hearts and make us smile. Nothing beats that good feeling of a cat and her kittens being rescued from a burning building or a pet dog keeping a baby entertained and causing the baby to have wild hysterics.
However we are seeing more “pet fail” content which features cats falling off furniture and dogs getting their head stuck in a bag whilst sniffing out food. There is a video on Tik Tok featuring cat owners attaching sticky tape to their kitty’s paws and then filming their pet’s reaction. You can hear the laughter behind the camera as their pet struggles to regain their balance and it is clear that the cat is in distress. It poses the question “why would anyone abuse their pet for the sake of a viral video?”
Vets are very concerned about this situation as the biggest issue is the potential of physical injury or even death during these viral or dare I say vile pranks. Falls are a major risk but there is also a concern regarding the long term psychological damage. Vets see too many of these pranks gone wrong and are the ones fixing those broken bones.
We have seen pets being challenged to negotiate their way through obstacles which could cause potential harm if trodden on. It is clear to see just by their body language if they are enjoying this task or if they are feeling anxious and showing signs of distress. The long term side effect from this would be for the pet to avoid common household products for fear of being hurt. Dogs may also become easily startled resulting in stress and anxiety. This can lead to physical problems such as loss of bladder or bowel control as well as health related problems which can lead to disease and ultimately a shortened lifespan.
Social media platforms have strict guidelines regarding the content which is allowed to be shared but we still need to look beyond what is considered entertaining viral content and ask ourselves if the content produced was in the best interest of the pet. At the end of the day the health and well being of these pets should override the number of views on a video.