Are Stabby Cat Keychains a Feline Faux Pas? The Legality of Dangerous Pet Accessories

What is a Stabby Cat Keychain?

The stabby cat meme originated in 2011 with a webcomic by J.L. Westover showing an illustration of a cat holding a plastic knife in a stabbing pose (https://tapas.io/episode/1153944). The image grew popular online during the early 2010s, leading to the creation of stabby cat merchandise like keychains and plush toys.

A stabby cat keychain typically features a cat figurine posed as if it is stabbing, while holding a tiny plastic knife. The cat has an angry or sinister expression. The keychain allows the funny meme image to be carried around on keys, bags, etc. The stabby cat meme resonated due to the humor and absurdity of showing normally cute cats acting violent.

Concerns Over Stabby Cat Keychains

Some find the stabby cat keychains disturbing or in poor taste. The violent imagery of a cat with sharp claws ready to scratch and stab does not sit well with certain groups. Some see these keychains as promoting or normalizing violence (1).

There are also concerns that stabby cat keychains may violate laws prohibiting certain weapons. Their sharp metal points could be considered similar to brass knuckles or push daggers, which are illegal to carry in some jurisdictions. Some law enforcement agencies have deemed them dangerous and confiscated them (2). Depending on how pointy the claws are, there is apprehension that stabby cat keychains could cause serious injury if used to attack someone.

In summary, while novelty keychains, some take issue with the violent nature of stabby cat designs. There are worries these items could encourage violence or violate weapon laws in certain areas.

Legality in the United States

The legality of stabby cat keychains varies significantly by state and locality in the United States. They are often regulated similarly to knives, daggers, and other weapons, but the specific laws are not consistent nationwide.

Some states have banned stabby cat keychains entirely, considering them dangerous concealed weapons. For example, in New York, it is illegal to manufacture, transport, dispose of, or possess any “metal knuckle knife” which is defined as a metal weapon fitted into a finger ring or brass knuckles (source).

Other states allow the possession and use of stabby cat keychains but regulate the allowed length of the “blade” or point. In California, it is legal to carry concealed stabby cat keychains under 2 inches long (source). However, longer varieties would be considered illegal daggers.

Some municipalities ban the sale, possession, and use of any weapon disguised as a novelty item, which includes stabby cat keychains. Overall, it is important to check local laws before purchasing or carrying a stabby cat keychain for self defense in the United States.

Notable Legal Cases

In 2021, a widely publicized arrest occurred when a woman was detained at an airport for carrying a stabby cat keychain. According to a Reddit post, the woman claimed she had the cat keychain for self-defense after being harassed, but was arrested anyway for possessing a concealed weapon. The case sparked debate about whether stabby cat keychains should be prohibited (source).

Another notable case occurred in 2020 when a man was arrested for resisting arrest after urinating in public. According to reports, he claimed to have a stabby cat keychain for self-defense, but was still detained (source). Cases like these have brought stabby cat keychains into the public discourse around self-defense laws and concealed weapons.

Legality in Other Countries

Stabby cat keychains face varying legal restrictions in countries outside of the United States.

In Canada, stabby cat keychains are generally prohibited under laws restricting the possession of brass knuckles and similar devices. Section 91(2) of the Canadian Criminal Code bans “any device designed to be worn across the knuckles of the hand and weighted to increase the force of impact from a punch or blow, including a knuckle duster, knuckleduster, knuckle knife or brass knuckles.” Some legal experts argue that stabby cat keychains would fall under this prohibition.[1]

In the United Kingdom, stabby cat keychains are classified as an offensive weapon under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, which prohibits the possession of “any article made or adapted for use for causing injury.” In 2019, a woman in Scotland was fined £100 for carrying a stabby cat keychain in public.[2]

Australia also prohibits the possession of stabby cat keychains, categorizing them as illegal brass knuckles under state law. In New South Wales, brass knuckles are a prohibited weapon and carrying them in public can result in up to 14 years in prison.[3]

So while laws vary between jurisdictions, stabby cat keychains generally face restrictions or outright bans in countries outside the United States due to their potential use as an offensive weapon.

Arguments For Allowing Stabby Cat Keychains

Some argue that stabby cat keychains should be allowed to remain legal. They assert that these items are not real weapons and would be ineffective in actual self-defense situations. These advocates state that stabby cat keychains should be considered more as novelty items that cannot inflict significant harm.

Another rationale put forth is that banning stabby cat keychains violates principles of free speech and expression. As mainly symbolic objects, their supporters contend they represent an artistic and creative design that should be protected legally. Outlawing them would infringe on the civil liberties of manufacturers and consumers.

Additionally, some claim that proposals to prohibit stabby cat keychains are excessive reactions to their limited risks. While these items could harm someone if used with force, advocates believe that instituting blanket bans on their sale and possession represents an extreme measure given their limited capabilities. They argue regulation would be an overreach.

Stabby cat keychains are defended as harmless novelties rather than dangerous weapons worthy of legal prohibition. Supporters assert bans would violate free speech protections and impose unreasonable constraints on lawful merchandise and self-expression.

For more perspectives, see this Reddit discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/NewOrleans/comments/78pqy3/this_pos_harassed_and_assaulted_a_friend_of_mine/

Arguments Against Stabby Cat Keychains

While some view stabby cat keychains as harmless novelties or effective self-defense tools, there are also arguments against allowing these products. Opponents believe stabby cat keychains have the potential to injure people and promote acceptance of violence. Many also find the keychains’ aggressive designs disturbing.

One major criticism is that stabby cat keychains can still inflict harm, even if marketed as novelty items. The brass knuckles and sharp claws are made of metal and could cause lacerations or other injuries if used against someone (https://www.karatemart.com/brass-cat-defense-keychain). Some argue these dangers mean stabby cat keychains should be prohibited.

Additionally, many believe stabby cat keychains promote and normalize violence. Even if meant for self-defense, the keychains’ aggressive appearance seems to condone retaliation and could encourage violent mindsets in owners. Critics argue this is an unhealthy message for society.

Finally, the disturbing aesthetic of stabby cat keychains upsets some people. The knuckles and sharp claws give these keychains a visceral look that can be unsettling. Many find the products in poor taste, especially when marketed in cute or humorous ways. This leads some to argue stabby cat keychains should not be sold publicly.

Retailer Policies on Stabby Cat Keychains

Major online retailers have differing policies when it comes to selling stabby cat keychains. Here is an overview:

Amazon: Amazon prohibits the sale of stabby cat keychains and other knife-like products on its marketplace. Any listings containing these items are removed.

Etsy: Etsy also bans the sale of stabby cat keychains in their handmade marketplace. The site has strict policies against weapons and violent products.

eBay: eBay US does not allow stabby cat keychains to be listed, as they violate the site’s weapons policy. However, some international eBay sites still allow their sale.

Walmart: Walmart does not carry stabby cat keychains in stores or on its website. The retailer prohibits offensive and dangerous merchandise.

Hot Topic: While Hot Topic is known for edgy products, they do not offer stabby cat keychains either online or in physical stores. The items conflict with corporate policies.

In summary, major US retailers refrain from selling stabby cat keychains due to the products’ perceived danger and controversial nature. However, the keychains may still be found on some international and smaller marketplaces.

Alternatives to Stabby Cat Keychains

For those who want to appreciate cute cats without the controversial stabby cat keychains, there are some alternative options to consider:

One alternative is plush stabby cat toys. These allow cat lovers to enjoy the cute angry cat aesthetic in a much softer and safer form. Companies like Giant Microbes offer plush stabby cat toys made of flocking material that pose no risk of harm.

Regular cat keychains are another alternative. These keychains feature cute cat designs without the spiky protrusions of stabby cat keychains. There are many creative options like keychains with cat ears, whiskers, or soft plush textures that provide a safer cat-themed accessory.

Finally, instead of purchasing a stabby cat product, some suggest donating to cat rescues or shelters. This allows cat lovers to help real cats in need rather than contributing to a controversial product. Many local animal shelters have wish lists of items they need donated like food, litter, or toys.

The Future of Stabby Cat Keychains

While stabby cat keychains are likely to remain a novelty item rather than a widespread self-defense tool, their future availability may be restricted by retailer policies and laws. However, it will be difficult to completely eliminate demand for these products.

As some major retailers like Walmart have already banned sales of stabby cat keychains, other companies may follow suit to avoid liability issues or controversy [1]. Additionally, state or local laws could place restrictions on selling items viewed as dangerous weapons, even if intended as novelties.

However, there will likely continue to be suppliers willing to sell stabby cat keychains, especially online or through small independent retailers. Enforcement against underground sales would be challenging. And for some customers, the taboo or defiance of bans can increase the appeal. So while mainstream availability may decline, it seems unlikely demand for stabby cat keychains will disappear entirely. Their future remains unclear.

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