Some things are just so awful that they can’t be taken seriously the wildly misogynistic stylings of the band Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction or the ridiculous horror-rock of Rob Zombie, for example (full disclosure: I listen to these bands and I laugh every time I hear their music) but it’s pretty rare to find such an awful joke in the animal business.
But it looks like just such a thing has cropped up, and it’s got animal activists outraged.
A website called FreshCat is supposedly offering people the chance to order a kitten to their specifications gender, color, fur length, etc. and have it shipped overnight to their home. When the cat becomes an adult, the subscriber simply ships it back and gets a replacement kitten. The company also offers a series of “subscriber premiums” such as fur stoles and cat massage tables.
We all know that nobody could get away with recycling kittens, but it’s still a pretty sick joke. I wonder what these people are hoping to prove. Maybe they’re trying to call attention to how awful it is for people to adopt a kitten and then “get rid of it” when it stops being cute and fluffy.
I could deal with sophomoric humor, especially if I can imagine it’s being done to make a point. But what I couldn’t deal with was the Zombie Ad!
While I was scanning the site as I prepared to write this post, a political ad urging me to vote a certain way on a referendum question in the upcoming election began playing repeatedly. This referendum question is on the ballot in my home state of Maine! The FreshCat people are supposedly based in Tennessee. There was no way to turn it off because there were no visible controls for the ad no MIDI player, no embedded video, no nothing. I had to close the browser window to make it stop.
It was at that point I decided the site is a very bad joke. I was chuckling at the idea of kitten recycling because I knew it was totally implausible that anyone could even consider a business like this, but after the Zombie Ad, I was just plain creeped out.
But really, I know of a much better joke site calling attention to the importance of spaying and neutering cats: Help Joey is a laugh-a-minute site encouraging people to help pets stop doing “it … you know, IT …” by a number of wacky means including purity collars, running vacuum cleaners in areas where cats were congregating to mate, and so on.
Well, okay, Help Joey is a bit off-color, too but it’s not downright offensive like FreshCat. As an extra added bonus, Help Joey doesn’t play ads on an endless loop!
The Help Joey site was made in partnership with the ASPCA, but although the organization has decided to stop the operation while they “determine the impact” the campaign has had on the very serious issue of the importance of spay/neuter, the site lives on.
Humor is a great way to raise awareness about important issues. But for it to work, you can’t come right out with a concept a lot of people will find shocking and offensive. I laughed a lot harder about the “purity collar” webisode on Help Joey than I did about the concept of recycling cats.