I first heard about the “goth kittens” a few months ago on a Care2 blog titled “Pet Accessories Gone Wrong.” I couldn’t agree more that there is something wrong with piercing three month old kittens and labeling them as “gothic.”
Yes, you read that right. Dog breeder, Holly Crawford of Pennsylvania was piercing kittens not only through the ears, but also on the back of the neck. She also used a rubber band to cut off blood flow to the tail of one kitten so the tail would fall off.
And, you guessed it, these “goth kittens” were black in color, mimicking, I suppose, in Crawford’s mind, those people who dress in black and sport various bits of jewelry through many different portions of flesh in the goth subculture. So, of course, it only made sense that to be true gothic felines, the tiny kittens required multiple piercings, as well; piercings that were done by Crawford using a 14-gauge needle that is usually reserved to puncture the thicker skin of cows.
I cringe to think about the pain associated with this practice, especially for those kittens that were pierced through the back of the neck. As Kayla Coleman noted in her blog on Care2, the neck on a cat is very sensitive. A mother cat will hold a kitten by the back of the neck to make it submissive so she can carry it. By “scruffing a cat,” or grabbing it by the skin on the back of the neck, you can essentially do the same thing to a cat and cause it to become more submissive. This practice is often used in veterinary clinics to control scared or aggressive cats. But eventually the “scruffed” cat is released, the pressure eases, and the cat returns to a normal state. A constant pressure on the back of the neck, via the piercing, must have produced a constant state of submissiveness in the tiny kittens. Who knows what kind of mental distress that may have caused.
Although Crawford maintained that the needles she used were sterile and she watched to make sure the pierced sites did not become infected, I think she did more damage to these tiny creatures than she can ever know. Once the kittens were “healed,” she then sold them online for hundreds of dollars.
Crawford was charged with animal cruelty and sentenced to a year of house arrest on April 12. To read more about the details of her trial, go to: Gothic Kittens
To see a video of the actual kittens from when they were rescued back in December, go to: Gothic Kittens YouTube Video. Happily, they had the piercings removed and all look very happy and healthy.
Sadly, these kittens are just one of many in a long line of animals that humans have inflicted strange cosmetic practices on to make them look good in our eyes or behave in ways more in line with how we think they should behave. We dock the tails and ears of dogs, because we don’t like the way these body parts look in their natural states.
There are even some people who have testicular prosthetic implants surgically placed in their neutered dogs to keep the dog looking “macho.” Called “neuticles,” these devices have no actual value to the animal, but make some humans feel better about the “look” of their male dogs.
We also cut off a cat’s toes at the joint to keep them from tearing up furniture by doing what comes naturally to them–scratching. This, too, is a type of mutilation that, unlike piercing kittens to produce a “goth” look, is socially accepted. It’s more common name is declawing.