If there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s that humans really love cat videos. But in early September, people went particularly wild for one in particular. According to the caption, the video showed a cat watching a video of his former owner, who had recently died. The cat cuddles up to the phone, as if he is giving his owner one last cuddle. It’s a sad and sweet story and over 30 million people watched it. There’s just one issue – it isn’t true.

This video went viral after a person in Turkey shared it on September 4. He says that this white-and-marmalade cat was watching a video of his owner, who had recently died.

After several seconds of tear-jerking music, the cat rubs up against the phone, as if to cuddle up to his former owner.
 


The video garnered more than 30 million views. Though it was originally posted by someone in Turkey, animal rights groups in other countries picked up it and started sharing it as well.

Various media outlets like KSAT 12 (a TV station in San Antonio, Texas), La Dépêche du Midi (a newspaper in southern France) and Sputnik (a Russian media outlet) also shared the video.


The video was shared by many pages on Facebook.
 

Did this cat really cuddle up to a smartphone after seeing a video of his owner?

This video does originally come from Turkey. However, it has been digitally altered. Someone lowered the image quality, and the soundtrack to the video was also modified to make it more emotionally intense.

If you do a reverse image search for the video (click here to find out how), then you can find the real story.

It turns out that the Turkish media outlet Teyit.org, which specialises in verifying videos circulating online, decided to investigate this video when it first started being shared in February 2018. Fact-chekers at Teyit were suspicious because there was little information about who the owner was or where the video had come from.

Their investigation found that the video was filmed in April 2016 by a Turkish woman named Sevilay Deryal. She posted a video of her cat Mia as part of an online contest.
 


In the original, high-quality video, you can see that the cat is watching a video of another cat and a turtle – not a video of her owner. You can check out the video here.

"What they did amounts to emotional abuse”

Sevilay Deryal, who is very much alive, gave an interview to Teyit.org in February 2018 :

The people who shared this video made the story up entirely. I think that what they did amounts to emotional abuse.

After people found out that I was the cat’s owner and I wasn’t dead, I got a text from a woman who said that her son had spent an entire day crying after seeing the video.

She asked me to take a picture of the cat and send it to him so that he would calm down because, every day, he asked her if they could adopt the owner-less cat.

People who make up false stories shouldn’t emotionally abuse other people. In this case, many people – including children and elderly people – were deeply affected by this story.”


FRANCE 24 contacted Deryal on September 11 and she said that her cat was doing well, despite recovering after a lung operation.

You can check out other videos of Deryal’s cat on her YouTube channel.
 


In summary, keep in mind that:

1. Just because a video is cute doesn’t mean that it is real. It could have been doctored by someone who wants to manipulate viewers emotionally. You should always try to verify videos and establish the original context in which they were made.

2. If you share a video without verifying it, you might be sharing a video that has been doctored or taken out of context. Your share allows the people who manipulated the video to generate clicks and, thus, make money.