Offbeat: Why are we so fascinated by the many videos and pictures of these feline pets on the Internet?

“The Internet is a lot like ancient Egypt — people writing on walls and worshipping cats,” proclaims a popular image-based social media website. Of course, to the Internet-savvy, this statement is ancient news in itself.

In April 2011, the video ‘Nyan Cat’ went viral on YouTube. This was an animated cat with the body of a pop tart, flying through space leaving a rainbow trail. More recently, in September 2012, the Internet saw another feline phenomenon — the Grumpy Cat. Tardar Sauce, as she is originally known, is a short-statured felinewith a permanently grumpy facial expression. Needless to say, the Internet loves her.

And it doesn’t stop there. Buzzfeed, the viral content detector website, mentions a list of 14 different cats that have influenced the Internet community. Even a Google search for ‘the best picture on the Internet’ leads to a bizarre cat portrait. That the Internet is obsessed with cats is old news. The question is, why?

Antics and entertainment

One possible reason is that cats are quite entertaining as household pets. Be it prancing around, playing with toys, stretching with feline grace or purring contentedly, cats do provide some much-needed stress relief. Owners have taken to filming their cats in action and the Internet community has taken to watching their frolics online.

The enigma quotient

One might argue that dogs, hamsters and rabbits too are equally entertaining. Dogs are, if anything, more active than cats. So why isn’t the Internet obsessed with them? One explanation is that cats have long been considered mysterious. While a dog wears its heart on its sleeve, a cat is often aloof. With a cat, one is never sure if they are the master or the pet. We as humans are naturally attracted to anything that is puzzling and odd. It comes as no surprise, then that we are fascinated by these animals.

Sheer numbers

In the U.S. alone, 33 per cent of all households have at least one cat. More than half of these cat owners claim to have more than one. That comes to around 86.4 million cats in just one country. Well, that explains the videos online!

Some others say that cats express more emotions than dogs and are thus easier to personify. And this personification is the key to the Internet popularity. Whatever the reason, you can find a tabby for every tab on your browser!

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