Funny cat videos on YouTube have exceeded 25 billion views — from cats being “lazy” and falling over to acting “grumpy” or aggressive. But what makes us laugh could actually be extremely upsetting for a cat, and behavior that we perceive as delightfully amusing could be a sign of emotional distress or pain, says International Cat Care (icatcare.org).
That’s why the organization has partnered with FCB Health Europe, an advertising network, to help show people that what looks like fun could actually be a display of fear, anxiety, or frustration.
For instance, cats don’t like loud noises, and they’re not having fun when they react to a loud noise that has taken them by surprise. And if they’re afraid and can’t put distance between themselves and whatever it is they’re afraid of, they might gulp or flick their tongues over their noses. If you see those gestures, assume the cat is not feeling okay.
Similarly, cats feel very frustrated when they can’t access something they want. It is inhumane to keep something desirable just out of reach to see how a cat will react.
Other signs of an unhappy cat: slinking off or running away as fast as she can; being forced into situations with unknown animals or people (particularly with a camera or iPhone in her face); hissing or snarling; having a finger stuck in front of her nose; being put into water; and being forced into various positions, sometimes with clothing on.
You really want to look at cat videos through a cat’s eyes. When you do, it becomes clear pretty quickly whether a cat is being abused for human enjoyment.