Maul me, baby, one more time?

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is growling at Britney Spears and her plan to use four live cheetahs for her appearance Thursday at MTV's Video Music Awards in New York.

The New York Post reports the spotted cats are supposedly going to be prowling the stage around the scantily-clad popster (and self-proclaimed virgin) as she wails her new hip-hop-flavored tune, "I'm A Slave 4 U," while simulating an orgasm on stage à la Madonna.

While it won't be quite as dramatic as Russell Crowe fending off those striped felines in Gladiator, and the cheetahs won't be harmed (unless you count Britney's singing), PETA believes the use of wild animals for stage trickery is cruel.

To that end, the group sent a letter to the singer on Wednesday requesting she drop the big cats from her show.

"We're writing today in the hope that you'll open your heart to the plight of captive 'wild' animals caged and forced to tolerate bright lights, crowds and frightening levels of noise," writes PETA campaigns director Dan Matthews.

Matthews asks Spears to think about it from the feline's point of view.

"Cheetahs used in show business are often trained through intimidation and with such devices as electric shock prods and sticks. Whippings, beatings, and starvation are common methods used to break the spirit of free-roaming independent animals," he writes.

"Instead of crossing acres of land at night in their natural homelands, those cheetahs have no normal social or behavioral life and suffer terribly in the meager space they are allotted."

Matthews also reminds Spears that other pop stars have foregone the use of wild animals in their live shows, most notably Janet Jackson, who after prodding from PETA, opted not to use a black panther on her Rhythm Nation tour.

Spears' handlers have refused to comment on the letter or on the singer's MTV plans.

PETA does have one thing going for it, however: Britney is an animal lover who prefers wearing fake fur and pleather to the real deal.

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