The dark side of Bieber’s designer cats

Source: Bartosz Kwitkowski via Unsplash

by Kat Smith

With thousands of homeless cats being killed each year after being left at shelters, Bieber’s resistance to criticism over his part-exotic cats is sickening.

The Canadian musician has defended buying a pair of Savannah cats for $35,000 (£28,000) after being criticised by Peta. He told them to “go focus on real problems”, failing to realise that buying and publicising the purchase of ‘designer cats’ actually is a real problem.

Some may say that the expectation placed on celebrities to act ethically is too high. Their every move scrutinised by the media and hoards of spectators on social platforms in ways that us ‘normal people’ do not experience. However, when so much good can be done in such a small act, it is hard not to call out irresponsibility. And what Bieber is being criticised for is not an act just falling short of saint-like, but one that is destructive.

While I always believe that the adoption of animals is the better option, it’s even more important to advocate it if you are in a position of power. Buying pedigree or part-exotic cats is never a good option in my eyes, but it is an especially damaging and cruel precedent to set when you are a world-famous figure with a lot of influence over your fans.

Defending his ‘purchase’, Bieber stated “I believe in adopting rescues but also think there are preferences and that’s what breeders are for.” The discussion of ‘preference’ when it comes to animals feels wrong in so many ways. It echoes the sentiment of black cats not being deemed suitable for social media because of their fur making them hard to photograph clearly. Animals are not a fashion statement – they are a companion. Knowing that my cats were the last ones left at the shelter because their fur wasn’t going to contribute to someone’s Instagram feed makes me lose faith in our connection with other sentient beings.

What’s more, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 3.2 million cats enter US shelters each year, and 860,000 are euthanised. When faced with the obscene statistics, preferences seem not only worthless, but cruel. In stark comparison, Lizzo recently brought rescued puppies out on stage in Washington D.C. to urge concert attendees to adopt and donate to the shelter. She confronted the fact that these pups were going to be euthanised had they not been rescued; animal euthanasia this is something Justin Bieber has shown little awareness of.

And if Bieber had accepted that buying rescues is better than buying from a breeder when faced with scrutiny, his actions would be more respectable. The rigorous denial and justification of his actions are what makes him such a bad example. His statement that he “believe[s] in adopting rescues” is worthless when he insinuates that this belief doesn’t apply to him. Just because money can buy some things, doesn’t mean we should buy them.

If Justin is going to defend his purchases to the bitter end, we need more awareness to be spread about the number of homeless animals all over the world. There are so many fantastic shelters and charities in the UK, such as Cats Protection who rehome cats, educate owners and help 500 cats daily. And if you can’t or don’t want to drop everything and adopt a cat, you can always donate to support animals in need.

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