IN seconds, a clip of a woman petting a cat to the beat of Queen’s classic Bohemian Rhapsody went from touching moment to blatant abuse.
The person, who The Sun declined to name, aggressively punched her cat in the face and body, while the petrified pet bared his teeth and ducked in pain.
Two commenters responded to the vile video, which garnered 105,000 likes, “I laughed so much” and “LMFAO snot flew help!”.
But for animal welfare organizations, that’s no laughing matter.
They claim that clips like these, found through popular hashtags, “normalize violence against pets” and encourage abuse.
Millions across the country were outraged afterwards The Sun revealed footage of West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma, 27, kicking his cat.
Still, there are many similar videos online – and the number is increasing by the day.
The Sun found countless clips, including one showing a distressed animal screaming after losing stability after slices of cheese were placed on its paws, which garnered six million likes.
Others showed the pets racing to their food bowls, only to be flung through the air after encountering an invisible duct tape barrier. In some videos, owners wore giant cat masks to scare their pets.
When approached by The Sun, TikTok told us that there was “no place for this type of behavior” on the platform. However, only two out of 11 affected clips we’ve highlighted were taken down, showing varying degrees of animal violence.
Offenders in the UK can get up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine – and ZoumaAlthough he has not been charged, he knows only too well the consequences of his actions.
The defender was fined £250,000 – two weeks’ wages – by his east London clubdropped from the team, lost his Adidas sponsorship deal and his pets were confiscated by the RSPCA.
But while there has been clear action taken against the player, the heinous online behavior of other abusers goes largely unpunished.
Many clips are posted under the same three hashtags, which we don’t want to disclose, which together attract more than 90 BILLION views.
And in a world of social media influencers and 15 minutes of internet fame, TikTok users seem to be going to ever more extreme lengths to gain validation and followers.
In several videos, a rubber band was forced over a cat’s head to force its ears upright to make it look like a rabbit.
The cruelty angered many of the cats, who quickly jerked their heads in different directions and hissed – a clear sign that they were desperate.
These clips were accompanied by popular songs including 50 Cent’s Candy Shop, which attracts even more views and likes as TikTok spreads videos to a wider audience when they have a tune popular on the platform.
In another, which received 20,000 likes, a woman strangled her cat, pinching her jaw tightly and punching her while the pet tried to dodge the punches.
Others showed distressed pets having pancakes placed on their faces, made to wear uncomfortable costumes and more – all for “entertainment”.
Madison Rodgers, of cat protection organization Cat Protection, told The Sun: “This type of content desensitizes people to abuse and the signs of cat stress.
This type of content desensitizes people to abuse and the signs of cat stress.
Madison Rodgers, cat shelter
“It’s rife on TikTok and it worries us because people might think that’s okay and that it just normalizes this kind of behavior towards pets.
“It’s not acceptable or funny — it’s animal cruelty. It’s stressful and traumatizing for these pets. The line between candid moments and abuse is blurring.”
There are concerns these videos, which are often part of challenges on TikTok that encourage users to copy other clips, could lead to more malicious attacks – including the worrying trend of “crush videos”.
Such footage, seen on twisted fetish and sadist sites, usually shows a woman using her high heel, bare foot, or other body part to crush an animal.
Julia De Cadernet, founder of the NoToDogMeat movement, which targets countries selling dog and cat meat as food, says she was made aware of such vile videos on TikTok and other social media platforms.
She told The Sun: “I’ve seen groups use horrible clips they’ve found on the internet to gain followers. Crush videos are often shot by teens with women who look like they could be influencers or celebrity lookalikes.
“Children are often filmed slaughtering pets while adults watch and laugh, and we’ve rescued cats from arcades that were grabbed by metal claws.”
Victoria Featherstone Pearce, co-founder of dog rescue organization K9 Angels, has also noted a worrying rise in animal abuse clips.
She said: “There are so many cases where absolutely nothing is being done. Many clips are broadcast for likes and laughs.
Children are often filmed slaughtering pets while adults watch and laugh, and we’ve rescued cats from arcade amusements that were grabbed by metal claws.
Julia De Cadernet, founder of the charity NoToDogMeat
“It’s too easy to upload clips of defenseless, innocent animals being punched and kicked – even sexually abused.”
All of the charities The Sun spoke to urged TikTok and other social media sites to be more proactive by checking for abuse and removing clips faster.
Animal rights group PETA argued that “animal cruelty platforms benefit” when they don’t ban people from sharing this type of content.
It states, “Users often post atrocities for their shock value and rely on people to share the content, driving more traffic to the platform and ultimately driving ad revenue.”
Cat Protection’s Madison Rogers added that TikTok needs to find ways to “encourage users not to engage with such content,” particularly because it’s “self-regulated.”
She added: “They should invest in staff to search for animal abuse videos and, if necessary, to report it to the authorities.”
Four Paws UK was “disgusted” by the amount of animal cruelty on social media and urged TikTok to crack down to avoid “becoming synonymous with such violence”.
A spokesman for the animal rights group added: “If we are to be the animal-loving nation we claim to be, we cannot stand by and do nothing.”
A global report by the welfare network Asia For Animals Coalition found more than 5,480 links to animal cruelty content on TikTok, YouTube and Facebook between July 2020 and August 2021.
TikTok said it’s asking all users to abide by its guidelines, which say animal cruelty shouldn’t be posted or shared.
A spokesman told The Sun: “Cruelty to animals is appalling and there is no place for this type of behavior on TikTok.
“It’s against our Community Guidelines, and we don’t hesitate to take action if people violate these rules, up to and including permanent ban from the platform.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4836438/tiktok-animal-abuse-videos/ TikTok’s rise in animal cruelty