Update: Rufus the cat may not be real, but his performance that highlights the abuse animals used in the circus suffer through has won PETA a 2017 OMMA Award!
— MediaPost (@MediaPost) September 25, 2017
The OMMA Awards, which honor creative work that expands the potential of digital advertising, awarded “Cat Tricks with Rufus” its top prize in the animation category.
Originally published June 7, 2017.
It’s a two-parter that will have everyone upset—and should. Now uploaded to YouTube, “Cat Tricks” is a video of a man shouting at and hitting a house cat named Rufus until he stands on his hind legs and jumps from one stool to another like a tiger in a circus. But a behind-the-scenes video reveals that Rufus is entirely computer-generated—and that “Cat Tricks” was created to evoke empathy for the lions and tigers who are bullied and beaten into performing tricks in circuses and movies.
“Abuse is abuse, whether the animal being smacked is a house cat or a tiger,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “PETA’s video illustrates why not to buy a ticket to a circus that uses animals—or exploit a live animal for a TV show or movie. PETA is advocating for the use of computer-generated animals, as they don’t feel the terror of a threat, the pain of a whip, or the loneliness of a life in a cage.”
Although Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently closed, big cats are still being exploited by traveling circuses, roadside zoos, and film and television productions across the country. Handlers whip and beat them to make them perform tricks, and when they’re not performing, they’re typically confined to cramped, barren cages, where they’re forced to eat, drink, sleep, urinate, and defecate all in the same place.
Domestic cats suffer, too: A PETA exposé of leading Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited revealed that cats who were reportedly being used in the film Benji were virtually starved and forced to lose 5 percent of their body weight in five days because a trainer said that they were “fat.”