Why Do Cat Videos Top The Internet?
The jokes almost write themselves. With the remarkable resources of today’s high-bandwidth Internet, what does mankind do? Crowdsource clean, cheap energy for all? Nope. Cure cancer? Not so much. Pinpoint planets where alien life may be calling? Not a chance. Stream cat videos all day? Bingo!
A huge part of the traffic on the Internet at any given moment is due to cat videos. Streaming endlessly, these cute felines on video are catnip to millions of people who just can’t get enough of cats and their silly antics. Grumpy? Great. Cute? Irresistible. Precious? Perfect!
Are cat videos your “guilty pleasure”? Do you get a lift from watching feisty felines and cuddly kittens? Don’t be ashamed. You’re not alone. And according to recent research, those pleasant feelings you get while watching cat antics online may be more powerful that you realise. Evidently, they raise people’s energy and engender positive feelings, helping to minimise negative feelings. In short, they’re a sort of online antidepressant. Think of them as pussycat prozac; keeping the blues—and the harsh realities of ordinary life—batted away like a ping pong ball on a string.
Indiana University Media School assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick surveyed nearly 7,000 people about their cat-video viewing habits, and about how viewing affected their moods. (Yes, we’re also surprised that a university funds this kind of research.)
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick said. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can't ignore Internet cats anymore.”
Internet cats. Not to be ignored. Who are we to argue? (You couldn’t make this up!)
In 2014 alone there were 26 billion views of cat videos. Presumably at least some of those views were done by repeat cat-video viewers, returning like junkies for yet another feline fix. Incredibly, cat videos are the leading category of video on the popular YouTube online viewing platform. That’s an amazing number of people-hours spent basking in the joyful antics of cats online.
According to Myrick’s survey, a significant number of participants were viewing cat videos while at work. “We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little research on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us,” added Myrick. “As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.”
Myrick does her important research at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. Which also happens to be home to one of the Internet’s rising stars: Lil Bub the cat. As part of her research, Myrick donated funds to the support of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in Lil Bub’s name.
And though this is an amusing topic and great cause, we feel (respectfully) like we could save her the energy… we watch cat videos because frankly, cats are demented little balls of fun. If there’s anything funnier than ninja kittens, we’ve not seen it. Please feel free to post links to your comments or favorite cat videos in the comments box below!