Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Exorcise Your Cat!

No, not exercise, exorcise. Today's article can't help but remind me of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters 2 pushing his no-budget paranormal TV show. "Next week on World of the Psychic, hairless pets. Weird." The joke, of course, being that there's nothing paranormal or psychic or ghostly or demonic or whatever about having an unusual-looking pet.

Now that joke would be even funnier if there weren't clueless people out there taking it way too seriously. The article concerns a cat named Pixel who is a Cornish Rex. Cornish Rexes are a breed with far less hair than regular house cats, and they're fairly rare so a lot of people aren't that familiar with them. Pixel's owner, Alyson Kalhagen, recently posted some photos of the cat online and got some pretty bizarre responses.

One such message was from an exorcist who told Kalhagen that a demon was using her pet as a 'puppet' and instructing her to keep Pixel caged and pray 'over and over' in front of him to get the demon out. 'I had a message from this person telling me that they were an 'exorcist' and Pixel had been 'taken over by a demon that was controlling his face'.

'I think he was trying to tell me that's why my cat is making all of these crazy faces,' Kalhagen said. 'In that photo he's got kind of a blank stare with his weird little grin on his face - like maybe the lights were on or no one was at home, or whoever was at home wasn't up to any good.

'All the time people say 'this is the creepiest cat I've ever seen', 'my sleep paralysis demon has come to life' and if they saw him in the middle of the night they'd have a heart attack and it would scare them to death.

'People say all the time that he's a 'demon cat' who 'must be possessed' and that the devil's taken control of him. It's kind of a recurring theme. I think it's pretty funny because I usually just say 'imagine coming face to face when you're trying to scoop the litter box'.'

Pixel is actually a fine example of the breed, and his unusual appearance is what Cornish Rexes are supposed to look like. Not the bat wings, of course, just in case any would-be exorcists are a little confused by the cute costume he's wearing in the photo. It amazes me that anybody would think this cat was "possessed," but given the way people are I probably shouldn't be surprised. People who spend time worrying about things like demon-possessed cats on the Internet are not known for being especially rational.

This silly story does bring up a serious point, though. There is a big difference between unusual things and threatening things, and I can only imagine that conflating the two is what's going on here. Pixel is a breed of cat that not many people are familiar with, so he definitely looks unusual. But he also obviously poses no danger to anyone, and especially no spiritual danger to anyone. Would-be exorcists should keep that in mind when dealing with a whole lot of things in life besides cats.

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