TikTok is one of the most popular apps in the world right now, and is the hub of the internet’s most viral trends. But while most of these trends are harmless fun, others can be dangerous.
Like one viral stunt that experts warn is causing real distress for the animals involved — read on to learn more.
The TikTok trend shows users picking up their pets by their armpits and spinning them in a circle, set to Taylor Swift’s “August.” It’s most often cats, although dogs, goats and raccoons have also appeared in the videos.
There are thousands of examples, and the videos have been popular — some have millions of views and the comments are most often positive.
But while the owners and their followers are having a good time, the cats are understandably confused and distressed about being flung in a circle.
Since the animals are only in the air for a few seconds, people don’t seem to think of it as causing any real distress or harm. But others have spoken out about the trend: one user named Abby shared a video saying that people were hurting their cats’ armpits and spines by lifting them up without proper support.
“Taylor Swift loves cats, she would not appreciate you hurting your cat to her song,” she wrote in the caption. (Swift hasn’t commented on the trend, and it’s not clear she’s aware of it, but she is a noted animal supporter and cat owner.)
As the trend grew and more and more videos were uploaded to TikTok, animal experts weighed in and confirmed that the videos were inhumane.
“At no point should an animal deliberately be put in a position to feel fear, anxiety, frustration or experience pain for the benefit of human entertainment,” Daniel Warren-Cummings, central behavior officer at the animal charity Cats Protection, told Metro. “Cats in particular will experience extreme stress by being swung or spun around and it could even cause them physical harm.”
He also expressed disappointment in the disconnect between the users’ apparent love for their pets and their disregard for their wellbeing. In one video found, the user jokes about wanting to “torture” their cat.
“In the videos highlighted, the cats are showing clear signs of distress,” he continued. “Even more disappointingly, these are being described as cute or funny in the comments section by people who appear to count themselves as cat lovers.”
“It’s clear from the language that the owners don’t understand that animals don’t feel and behave the same way humans do and this undercuts the distress that the cats are experiencing… Even if the experience is only brief, it’s unethical and should not be encouraged.”
It seems like it’s easy for people to jump in on a viral trend without thinking if they’re harming their animals — we all need to think twice about how we treat our animals and use them for internet content.
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