A rabbit with rounded ears. (Screenshot: YouTube)

For decades, the moral of many horror and science-fiction films was that human beings should absolutely not tamper in God’s domain. That was even the homily of at least three separate screen adaptations of H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Doctor Moreau. But the more cheerful message being delivered by many photo-sharing apps is, “Go ahead and tamper in God’s domain. It’s all fake anyway, so what the hell’s the difference? Besides, it’s super cute.”

In that spirit, many pet owners are using a free app called Cymera to artificially manipulate photos of cats, dogs, rabbits, and other critters so that their ears are perfectly round, like those of Mickey Mouse. Is that what Cymera was intended to do? No, not at all, but that’s what people are using it for anyway, according to Lori Dorn of Laughing Squid. Dorn reports that the fad started in Japan before becoming so popular that Cymera eventually caved to public pressure and just posted ear-rounding instructions to its official Instagram account. If you can’t beat ’em, make their ears perfectly round. Or something like that.

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In a way, none of this is wholly unexpected. After all, people have long used technology and art, both separately and in conjunction, to achieve a level of aesthetic perfection that is simply not possible in dull old reality. People are already Photoshopping and Instagram-filtering the heck out of pictures of themselves. Why should their animals be immune to this? Some observers would say that pets tend to be pretty adorable already with no digital trickery required. But the truth is that rounded ears are almost criminally adorable. And it’s not like the animals are being harmed in any way. If this keeps people distracted from their own problems for a few moments here and there, so be it. And it’s really tough to argue with weapons-grade cuteness like this:

Screenshot: @uraripleyn/Instagram

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There could be something to this round-ears thing. It’s certainly kept Mickey popular since 1928. Not to mention all those cartoon mice, from Mighty to Jerry to Danger. Even Deadmau5 has had the look going for some time. The technique is so effective, it could improve just about anyone’s image.

Mickey Mao T-shirt (Screenshot: Pinterest)