I need to find a picture or GIF of a child frightened beyond tears for whenever someone posts pictures of a cat or kitten that is obviously frightened and stressed while calling it “cute” and saying “aww, ain’t this adorable”.
A frightened animal isn’t cute, and every time I see something like that on Facebook or another site, I automatically think that either 1. the person has no clue about feline emotions and how to read them, or 2. the person posting it is a sadistic jackass.
For those of you who fall into category no. 1, a cat with wide eyes and flattened ears is either 1. about to attack a threat or 2. frightened and trying to flatten down.
Perked ears is a sign the cat is stalking and about to pounce — play involving a toy or laser pointer brings this out quite readily. Flat ears means the cat feels threatened or angry, and will probably respond aggressively if the threat gets too close — if the cat is doing this in response to you, that is your indicator to back down. What you might think is cute is actually a warning.
If the cat is not moving, or, worse, is visibly shaking and/or has stopped purring, the animal is frightened or stressed, but still may respond violently to any contact. Kittens will be more likely to respond to a potential threat by flattening down since they really aren’t capable of fighting back — they rely on their mother for their defense.
And those who post pictures of cats or kittens in such postures are either sadistic — since they are frightening a kitten or adult cat for a “cute” picture — or need a lesson in feline body language.