Not long ago, West Ham player Kurt Zouma was banned from having cats for five years and sentenced to perform 180 community service hours after abusing his pet cat.
In the video, he was seen kicking his cat across the kitchen before hurling a pair of shoes at it and hitting its head. He faced a lot of flak from the community, lost his Adidas sponsorship and was even booed by fans while playing for his club.
One would think that following this horrifying video, cat cruelty in the footballing world would decrease. However, that does not appear to be the case.
A cat hopped onto the table during a World cup media interview for Brazil’s Vinicius Jr. At first it was amusing, but later, the Brazilian press officer seized the cat by the scruff of its neck and threw it in front of the audience on the floor.
Vinicius was laughing seeing a cat at his news conference, but he might have regretted it once the press officer treated the issue in an abusive manner.
The technique he used to pick the cat and the ferocity with which he threw the cat down is the core issue of the problem here. Let’s break it down.
The part of the skin that is right above the neck of the cat is called the scruff. In order to confine a cat, many are advised to hold it by the scruff.
Although scruffing was formerly thought to be a harmless approach to offer restraint and replicate how a mother cat picks up its kittens, it is not a secure method to restrain a cat, and it is also a strong technique that causes fear in most cats.
Scruffing reduces the cat’s ability to withdraw and feeling of control, which typically leads to an increase in anxiety and stress. Lifting or suspending a cat’s body mass by the scruff is inappropriate — and possibly painful.
Additionally, the way he threw the cat needs an explanation. It was more aggressive than necessary, and the cat even seemed shocked that a person who was petting it a few seconds ago was now so violent with it.
The official Twitter account of animal rights nonprofit PETA and the public, in general, were outraged by the Brazilian press officer’s treatment of the cat and condemned him.
This is probably a case of being uninformed rather than abusive, as was the case with Kurt Zouma, but it still needs addressing. People assume cats can survive anything, so they treat them with little care. The same treatment is not given out to other animals or pets, like with dogs, so why with cats?
In a world where everything is being critically scrutinised and looked at, abuse in an open forum as big as this should not go unnoticed. Only then can people realise how to and how not to treat any animal and not just cats.
Don’t be the Brazillian Press Officer, and never be a Kurt Zouma.