Pop quiz: Your kid is getting into it with one of your cats. What do you do?
A. Separate the child and the cat, then tell the child to be gentle with the kitty.
B. Laugh, then separate the child and the cat.
C. Grab your phone and make a video of your kid punching the cat and the cat fighting back, then post it on YouTube while your startled kid sits in the corner crying his eyes out.
Judging from a recent video compilation that recently appeared on the Huffington Post, answer C is entirely too common.
What the hell is it with people who think it’s fun to video stuff that’s incredibly traumatic and then share it with 100 million of their best friends?
Maybe it all started back in the 1980s with the hour of dumbassery known as America’s Funniest Home Videos. Yup, it sure was hilarious to watch a couple dozen low-quality videos that always seemed to end with a guy getting kicked in the balls. And people submitted all those ridiculous videos in the hope of winning money for sharing their (most likely staged) pratfalls with a huge demographic. Unfortunately, that demographic included model citizens like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo fans and adults who think fart jokes are ridiculously funny.
Online video sharing has made it easier to show the world what a fool you are. There’s not much money to be had, but all those thumbs-ups on a cat-kid throwdown video must be incredibly gratifying to the ego. "Wow, 13,582 people think my crappy parenting is hilarious!" these amateur videographers must crow.
Speaking of crappy parenting, what the hell is it with people who have children and cats and don’t teach their kids how to interact properly with their feline family members?
There are lots of ways to help children learn that cats are living, breathing beings, not toys, and that they need to be treated gently. I’ve found that reminders to "be gentle with the kitty" work very well with toddlers. My fellow Catster author, Angie Bailey, has written extensively about how to teach kids how to handle cats, how to approach unfamiliar cats, and how to raise cat-loving kids who have empathy and compassion for smaller creatures.
But I suppose that if you’re self-absorbed enough that the first thing that crosses your mind when your kid is trying to throw a cat into a swimming pool is to pick up your damn phone and make a video, it probably hasn’t occurred to you that teaching your kids to have a conscience might be a good idea.
Furthermore, what the freaking hell is it with people who don’t exercise any kind of discipline when their kids are doing crap like hitting a cat?
Discipline is actually kinda important, y’all. The kid in this video who was punching the cat should have been told "no" and removed from the situation before the cat felt compelled to react defensively and fight back. I don’t believe in hitting and painful punishment, but I do believe in firmly establishing boundaries and helping kids understand right from wrong.
Sure, some of these cat attacks seem to come completely out of the blue, but cats don’t just up and decide to do a face-hugger maneuver or knock a toddler over for no reason at all. My guess is that either there was a lot more going on between the cat and the kid before the video or, like most of those dumb America’s Funniest Home Videos clips, they were staged and may even have involved an adult throwing the cat at the kid from off camera.
What do you think? Am I totally off base for being aggravated by these cat-versus-kid videos? Are they a celebration of bad behavior and foolishness, or are they just innocent fun? What would you do if you saw a kid manhandling a cat or if you met some teenagers or (heaven forbid) adults preparing to pull a cat-attack prank on a young child? Share your thoughts in the comments.
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.
Learn more about your cat with Catster: