(more cats, if you didn’t guess), that cat with the lime on its head, that other cat that looks like it’s flying …
And that’s just barely scratching the surface (see what I did there?).
Those are only some of the famous ones. The rest of the Internet – and there’s a lot of it – seems just about as feline-focused. Sure, there’s a smattering of sloths, some funny dogs (and Doge, of course), and all the boring stuff like maps, books and productivity tools; you know that stuff the Internet was intended for.
But also – many, many cats.
What’s going on here? Have we always been secretly cat obsessed, and it took an international communications network to expose it? Or is something else at work?
Is the Internet really made of cats? How did this happen?
There are a few theories floating around, and there’s a little bit of truth to all of them. Here are a few of the leading reasons:
1. Cats are cute.
That’s the simple answer: they’re cute, so we like to look at them. The little “d’awwww” factor of looking at a kitty snapshot is just what we want in the online culture of instant gratification.
2. Cats are expressive.
With lots of body language, many different facial expressions, and for some cats, a natural look that we can instantly equate with a human emotion, cats are expressive creatures that we (meme generators and viral trend participants) can very quickly identify with. Pair this trait with the cute factor, and you’ve got a recipe for a TON of variation and broad popularity. There’s a cat pic for every situation.
3. Nerds keep cats.
While maybe this isn’t universally true, there’s something stereotypically valid about the code-savvy homebody and their pet cat – or cats. It’s an image that many of us can identify with as we hunch over laptops or shoo our own cats away from the screen. Something like 33% of American households has cats (and plenty of those have more than one), which makes for a lot of uploaded cat material, and even more people to appreciate it. Apparently computer people tend to be cat people!
4. Cats are complex.
Why cats? Why not dogs or lizards or alpacas? Not only do a lot of us have (and therefore “know”) cats, most people also have the same essential understanding of them: they are aloof, self-motivated, complex creatures that seem like they have their own agendas. In short, they are mysterious.
It’s pretty easy to tell what a dog wants, but not a cat. This added layer of complexity makes it funnier when they do something silly, and their inherent agility makes it funnier when they do something clumsy. Really, there are just a lot of layers to be interested in.
5. Cats are Jerks.
Sometimes the mysterious, self-fulfilling cat can be a real jerk. They’ll knock stuff off the table, attack the dog, never give you the time of day, and basically do whatever they want, whenever they want, without much regard for anyone or anything else. This may be frustrating when it’s your own cat, but as a causal Internet observer, seeing cats be selfish jerks is highly entertaining.
It’s a strange question to ponder, right? How is it that the most sophisticated, wide-reaching communication tool ever created, with limitless potential for sharing information, the largest, and greatest technological development of the last century, is so dedicated to the distribution of cat media?