'Flashbacks': Owner Accidentally Unlocks 'Childhood Trauma' in Their Cat

A viral cat has warmed hearts online for her adorable reaction to being brushed with a wet toothbrush—a trend TikTok claims reminds cats of their moms.

Cat owner Stephy Weid has gained an impressive 33 million TikTok views with the moment her cat appeared to cry at the mere feeling of the toothbrush. The video can be seen here.

The feline-based trend began on the app back in 2020 and encouraged cat owners to stroke their pet's head using a damp toothbrush, with claims it has therapeutic benefits as it reminds them of their mom.

"I saw this thing where if you brush your cat with a damp toothbrush it reminds them of being groomed by their mom," wrote Weid using a text-to-voice feature. "I appear to have accidentally unlocked a childhood trauma for my kitty."

The cat, named Wednesday, appeared to well up at the feeling of the toothbrush gently swiping at its fur.

Searching "cat toothbrush" on the app will bring in a long line of similar videos of cats in pure bliss at the feeling of being stroked.

While the reaction is clear, the cause of it is somewhat argued. Although TikTok claims it reminds cats of their mothers, experts aren't so sure.

When the trend first surfaced in 2020, Cats Protection told Metro.co.uk that it might be a pleasant experience for the cat, but it's unlikely to remind them of any past life or kitten memories.

"Despite the latest craze to brush cats with a wet toothbrush—in the hopes that it will soothe them by reminding them of being groomed by their mother—cats will be aware that it is actually a toothbrush," they said. "How a cat responds to this will depend on their personality, level of socialization as a young kitten and whether they've had positive experiences of being groomed.

"All cats can benefit from being groomed if it is introduced carefully and gradually at their own pace. A toothbrush could be useful as part of this process as it's smaller than a normal cat brush and therefore less imposing."

This is something seemingly proven by this viral video too, as Weid confirmed that the crying wasn't actually sadness-induced. In a follow-up video, she clarified: "She is totally fine. She just has naturally goopy eyes."

Although science backs that cats do feel emotions including sadness, there is little to prove that they cry just like humans do.

That hasn't stopped the video sparking emotions for viewers on TikTok, with some claiming they also were left crying.

"Bro is crying and i'm crying," wrote one user.

"My guy had flashbacks," added another.

Newsweek has contacted Stephy Weid for comment.

Cat crying
Stock image of a cat crying. Getty Images