It is October 17 1995.

A young man using the handle "flea" uploads a pornographic picture to an Internet "newsgroup". It happens an estimated 2000 times a day, but this time, it's different. The picture shows a naked six year old, who we will call Kathy, helplessly tied in thin blue yarn... and what is perhaps even more disturbing, the man distributing the picture is Kathy's legal guardian. To this date, no legal action has been taken and Kathy is still in the custody of "flea". Why has justice failed Kathy? Why has the law not intervened?
The answer is simple... Kathy is a cat.


The problem is growing.

Each day it is estimated that as many as twenty pictures of young cats go up on the Internet without their knowledge or consent. With a computer and phone line, anyone, even children, can easily find and view these pictures. In fact, in a frightening new trend children themselves are increasingly responsible for taking and distributing these startling pictures. What is to be done? Where does free speech end and compassion begin?

In a recent study conducted by Richard Little it is estimated that there are over a million billion pictures of cats on the Internet. That number is expected to rise by some 30000000% over the next year. Projections for the year 2,010 show that there will be more cat pictures on the internet than molecules of oxygen in the atmosphere. Of course some critics have questioned Richard's study pointing to the fact that Richard is only ten and a half and call the study "dangerous, unfounded fiction" Supporters claim it's not dangerous at all. Both sides agree however that it would be impossible to come up with accurate numbers... so we'll use these.

All over the world there are increasing reports of kitty porn. China, Japan and the Netherlands have all become hot spots on the kitty porn circut. Several organizations track these phenomena such as the "WWW Cat Map" recently awarded POINT'S prestigious "Top 5% of the Web" award. It chronicles some of the world's most notorious cat pages. Pages like these can be a boon to those concerned with kitty porn, but they can also be misused by those seeking cat pictures for prurient purposes.

Kitty porn spans economic lines as well as national borders. The kitty porn scene is no longer characterized by poorly lit amateur photographs of underprivileged cats, but reaches all the way to the top as this picture of ex First Kitty "Socks", with his owner, shows. No cat is safe no matter what their upbringing or how powerful their family is.

Though humans are responsible for most of the startling pornography on the internet, a growing number of cases are being attributed to the Feline Mafia Organization (FMO). Who are they and what has been their effect in the kitty porn controversy? Is anything being done?

We talked to Special Agent Punner about the problem.

"Well, the problem has paw-satively become cat-astrophic in it's pro-paw-tions. Just last week I was helping track down a flea-ing fur-getive who was making a feline for neuter-al territory be-claws of crimes against a young fur-gin named Fuzzy Love. The fur-ious women who spayed at home surfing the Internet wasn't lion when she called in the crime. To say it stroked us the wrong way around here barely scratches the surface. The purr-petrator litter-aly came within a whisker of getting away, but it was the cat's meow interestingly enough that lead to our apprehending of the hair-ied fat cat responsible. Now he'spraying not to get collared and either tossed in the kennel or thrown to the wolves."
We tried to contact Fuzzy Love, but she had no comment. This was partly due to shame and unwillingness to endure further exposure, and partly because, like most cats... Fuzzy Love can't talk.

This is the true tragedy. While we labor to protect our freedom of speech, who will protect those that cannot speak. Such spokescreatures for the feline community such as Puddy, who writes the very successful column "Ask Puddy" have been strangely silent on the subject. Of course many people feel that animal pundits such as Puddy are mere pawns themselves and are being controlled by other interests. We asked Puddy for his comment, but so far we have received no reply.

Part of the problem lies in the availability and design of computers. Not enough effort is being made to empower the feline community. They have no voice, they are shut off and isolated. They are part of something they do not understand and cannot participate in. They have no power to change the Net. Of course there are more cats with access to computers than women, minorities, and economically depressed people... but that's not really saying much is it?

Until the Web embraces everyone equally, the problems of exploitation will continue. Although legislation against posting cat pictures is an option, a more intriguing option has been suggested in a report published by the Coalition of Those Attempting to Think Clearly and Probably Failing

"Society should spend a lot more time trying to educate and help people stay mentally and physically healthy instead of making them sick and then trying to stop them from hurting each other. If we must pass laws about pornography on the Internet, we advise a law that requires EVERYONE on the internet to post a pornographic picture of themselves. We don't know if that would solve the problem, but it would sure be interesting."

For more information, smell the third step outside your house.