Between the Cold War, communism, hockey, and the Olympics, there are a number of reasons why some Americans have a distaste for Russians. They don’t even have a word for “fun” in the Russian language. I mean come on, how do you not have a word for fun? Nevertheless, the list of reasons is steadily growing with the most recent misstep in the form of a tattoo, or more properly, a cattoo. Cattooing is a practice that involves sedating a Sphynx cat, and while it is anesthetized, a tattoo artist gives the hairless breed a tattoo. As a result, animal lovers worldwide are smearing cattoo practitioners on social media and on the internet in general.
The latest publicized instance of cattooing came earlier this year. What’s interesting is that this is not the first occurrence of cattooing in Russia. The latest case simply received more publicity and public shame because things go viral more often and more easily these days. There were other instances of cattooing in Russia committed by different artists in 2009 and 2012, and both artists received a similar stream of hate mail. The practice has animal activists on the offensive and speaking out against what they consider animal cruelty. The question I have is whether or not the animal can feel it while it is being tattooed, and there are no clear answers to this question because the tattoo artists haven’t explained what kind of drug they use to sedate the animals.
Animal rights activists ask the question, “Are we humans so shallow and materialistic, that we see our pets as just another possession?” And I think that is a valid question. Too often I see animals treated as property, and not as living cognizant creatures. Other arguments against cattooing are related to species-specific traits. For example, Sphynx cats have incredibly sensitive skin, and that is a problem for two reasons. The first is that when they wake up from the anesthesia, they are going to be in pain, and the skin is going to feel uncomfortable and irritated at the very least. The other problem is that certain types of anesthesia only paralyze the nervous system so that the cat cannot move, but it is not actually asleep or numbed, so the animal may be able to feel the entire procedure, which would be torture for an animal with skin as sensitive as a Sphynx. One website went on to say that “anesthesia is bad for Sphynx’ and the survival rate is 50%, which makes this whole case a question of abuse.”
Nevertheless, the tattoo artist, named Aleksander, has defended his actions. He explained that it is no different from a farmer branding his animals, and that this practice is very old, which is why he feels neutral about it. That statement seems to answer the question raised by the animal rights activists who wonder if some humans are so shallow that they only see their pets as property. The reason farmers brand their animals is to claim them as their own property, so yes, it does appear that some of us humans are that shallow. Aleksander did show some signs of humanity though, saying that “Of course, I feel pity for doing it to him. It’s not like he wanted to do it himself.” He also said “I hope it is not too bad for him, it is not his first tattoo. Usually he feels fine and recovers from the anesthesia pretty fast.”
This is not the first or last time something like this will happen, and cats are just the beginning. There is a tattoo artist in Brazil who tattooed his dog, so clearly it is a phenomenon that is becoming more common as tattooing becomes more widespread. As the cattoo debate continues and animal rights activists raise money to fight cattooing, it seems that this type of thing is only going to be in the news more often. Stay tuned.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Painful Pleasures.