There are those who will tut and maintain that ‘it’s only a cat.’ Really? | TONY OBRIEN


The disgraceful video doing the rounds on social media showing West Ham footballer, Kurt Zouma, kicking and slapping his child’s cat and laughing to camera, has backfired badly for the Frenchman.

Outraged and shocked animal lovers, the RSPCA, Blue Cross, West Ham football club, sports sponsors and even the iconic Brigitte Bardot (not one to cross on animal matters) have all condemned the film. Both Zouma and his brother, another footballer who laughingly filmed the cruel event, are both under investigation. Like many, I signed the petition for Zouma to be prosecuted. At 6ft 3in tall and weighing 16st, the impact on the terrified cat must have been horrific.

How any sane individual could harm a defenceless animal, slapping it out of the arms of his own young child, defies belief. Three cheers to the RSPCA which acted swiftly, removed the cat and another feline from Zouma’s house and now aims to prosecute him. The same is happening in France.

There are those who will tut and maintain that ‘it’s only a cat.’ Really? And what kind of message is this apology for a human being sending to his own children? That it’s cool and macho to abuse and hurt animals? It’s the thin edge of the wedge.

Undoubtedly, Zouma will be rueing the day he acted so despicably but may even learn from the incident. Of course, he is swimming in cash so the fines imposed on him by West Ham and the loss of lucrative sponsorship deals won’t hit him too hard, but the public opprobrium and wholesale condemnation, may dent his over-inflated ego.

The psychological damage done to this poor feline will never be diminished – it will be scarred for life - and let’s not even mention the physical injury and abuse that it may have suffered before at this heartless yob’s hands. He won’t go to jail, of course, because he’ll have powerful lawyers to defend him. It’s a shame that a judge can’t impose punishment of a good kicking and slapping so that he understands exactly what his own frail and small victim must have felt.

All the same, this sad and vile affair will hopefully prove a marker in the sand and warning for any other deranged creatures who think it’s a good idea to copy-cat Zouma’s idea of having fun.

Cool for Cats

Talking of cats, Bristol University has taken a good deal of flack this week for its rumoured new student inclusion policy and gender pronoun guide for lecturers. On its site, it includes a link offering advice about how to relate to students who identify as ‘emojiself’ or to the guffaws of the UK media, as Cat-gender.

Funnily enough, I really understand why some students might want to identify as a cat. Judging by my own lazy and spoilt felines, cat life can be great, providing you’re not owned by the likes of Kurt Zouma, of course. The guidelines weren’t totally clear about how to address cat gender students but I imagine ‘Here, Kitty, Kitty!’ wouldn’t go down too well, nor ‘Hey, you, cat got your tongue?’ and cat-shaming names such as Fat Cat and Moggy would inevitably be regarded as feline racist slurs and stereotyping.

What might the daily demands include for a student cat gender identifier? Would the university be expected to provide bowls of milk in lectures, cat flaps fitted in student lodgings, litter trays and scratching posts? It could prove a veritable minefield and what about trans and non-binary cats?

But the real elephant in the room is what the university must do should other animal identifiers join the parade? Soon they could have students identifying as dogs who’d demand bones, daily walks and lampposts, even tummy tickles which could prove risky, or frogs who’d want their own ponds and lily pads, monkeys who’d demand a resident jungle and plentiful supply of bananas, or mice, their own supply of holes and cheddar. And what kind of trouble might brew between mice and cat identifiers?

Perhaps the mice would just have to lie low until the cat identifiers were out of sight? As they say, when the cat’s away the mice will play.

Dick in the dock

After mounting pressure, Dame Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, has finally resigned. A controversial figure, she has survived a long tenure despite, according to her detractors, seemingly numerous errors of judgement.

In 2005, she oversaw the disastrous operation that resulted in the death of innocent Brazilian, Jean Charles Menezes, mistaken for a suicide bomber, and the harsh stop and search tactics in the capital which caused bitter resentment and lack of harmony in the community. She apparently allowed police corruption and misogyny in the force to continue under her watch either through ignorance or denial.

This was underscored again with the horrific murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of policeman, Wayne Couzens, from her elite protection squad. Sadiq Khan appears to have taken credit for her downfall but he shouldn’t be bragging. Under his watch, knife crime in London has soared. Maybe he needs to quit too.

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