Grumpy Cat, Natsu, Venus, Sam, Garfi, Snoopy and Shironeko.
No doubt these names ring a bell. They are some of the most famous celebricats of the internet today. And make no mistake, they are undeniably celebrities in their own right, boasting social media followers in the tens of thousands. Nala Cat has more than a million followers on Instagram while Hamilton the Hipster Cat has his own clothing line.
Books have been written about these celebrity cats, and for those who want their own feline companion to become famous, there’s “How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom.” There are also over two million cat videos on Youtube while the webste I Can Haz Cheezburger receives more than 100 million views a month. Not to mention it being responsible for a new kind of Internet speak.
But why are people so gung-ho about cats? What do cats have that made them more popular than man’s best friend, as far as the internet is concerned?
Not surprisingly, there have been studies regarding this phenomenon, with numerous people – whether they’re scientifically inclined or not – giving their own two cents on the cat’s dominance of the world wide web.
According to one popular theory, the internet loves cats more than dogs because the former is more stoic and standoffish while the latter wears his/her heart on its fur. Dogs are not called man’s best friend for nothing. They have been domesticated earlier than cats, albeit originally for reasons that have more to do with survival than mere companionship. This has resulted in dogs becoming more eager to please their owners, which is why most dog videos show them interacting with humans or acknowledging the presence of the camera. Whereas cats have an air of disinterest around them. This creates a barrier with viewers while at the same time compelling people to continue watching them. In a nutshell, some kind of voyeurism is at play here.
Another theory posits that the popularity of cat memes and videos is because cats are a blank canvas for our emotions. We can’t do this to dogs since we understand their actions and emotions. But since cats are a blank canvas in terms of their body language and facial expression, it’s easier for people to project their own emotions on them. Again, the history that humans have with the two animals play a big role. With men and dogs working together for centuries, we already know what dogs are thinking, more or less, based on their actions and expression. Not so with cats. This is why we find videos of cats exploring boxes or riding a roomba hilarious; we don’t understand why they’re doing these things. We also don’t know what they’re going to do next so we tend to keep watching.
There are a dozen more theories on why millions of people spend hours watching cat videos or making gifs and memes. There are those who believe that a cat confused about a Roomba or surprised by the falling of pens reflect our own confusion and struggle with modern life. Still others say that people’s fascination with cats stem from them being our main connection to nature.
There’s undoubtedly some psychological explanation for why cats rule the internet. But regardless of what they are, the truth of the matter is that cat videos, gifs and memes are here to stay.