Videos of cute animals have long been a staple of Youtube and other web sites. Viewers can indulge in scenes of adorable armadillos, precious pandas, and hilarious hedgehogs, among others. Yet one animal remains associated with online content to the point of being synonymous with Internet culture: cats.
From viral videos like “Keyboard Cat,” popular memes such as “I can haz cheezburger,” and incomprehensible oddities like “Nyan Cat,” cats have left their paw prints all over the world wide web. But why have felines been so dominant on the Internet? While it is true that pictures and videos of dogs are uploaded every day, canines aren’t associated with Internet culture to nearly the extent that cats are. So what are we to make of the persistent “kitty craze”? What might explain this phenomenon?
These questions were at the core of a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. The article, headlined “Cat videos make the Web their perch,” profiles Henry, a Seattle-based housecat who has achieved online infamy through a series of Youtube videos (made by his human owner, naturally) in which he “plays” a French existentialist. Henry earns about $1000 a week from his online store, has won a Golden Kitty award, and has even signed a book deal.
Emily Huh, an editor for the Cheezburger network of web sites (made famous by the “I can haz cheezburger” cat memes), is quoted offering her take on the extreme popularity of online felines: “Dog owners have a dog park where they can show off their dogs, but cat people don’t have that. The Internet is where people who love cats can go to say, ‘Look how cute my cat is.’”
There is no end to the kitty craze in sight. Lest you think that the feline phenomenon is a product of the Internet age, the LA Times article dates the first cat video back to 1894: a 20-second movie of a cat filmed by Thomas Edison. Technology may change, but the passion of cat lovers stays the same.