We live in a day and age where pretty much anything we could ever want is accessible via the Internet. It is an amazing tool that can empower us with knowledge, connect us with long-lost friends, and most importantly, continue to provide the fuel for one of the world’s most random obsessions.
Yes, I’m talking about cat videos.
Out of the never-ending content we have at our fingertips, people are choosing to occupy large portions of their time watching videos of cats. Not the ‘majestic jungle’ kind, the kind that lives in your house and shits in a litter box. There is almost always ONE funny video of a cat on every episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, if not an entire montage of them. There is a FESTIVAL dedicated to cat videos where proponents of the most sophisticated forms of feline Internet entertainment (or ‘die-hard cultish cat weirdos’… whichever you prefer) gather from far and wide to watch the best of these videos on a big screen.
So, I propose the million-dollar question: how can something as mundane as a house cat be so endlessly amusing?
I feel this is a good spot for a short disclaimer: I’m a self-proclaimed dog person. I've never had a cat and probably never will because I think they’re the worst. Despite my hatred of cats, I have fallen victim to cat-video frenzy. I will gladly waste my time watching them on YouTube because I actually think they’re really funny. (However, I will continue to make fun of cat video festivals because honestly? Come on. That’s inexcusably weird.) I have a few theories as to why we find cat videos so entertaining.
First, cats are evil. Watching videos of them falling off of stuff or making complete idiots of themselves in some other way brings mild joy to people, mostly people like me who think they suck.
Second, cats are mysterious. I imagine they all live double lives like the cats in Stuart Little. They slink through your house, unnoticed until they loudly crash into something, knock something off a table, or suddenly appear in random places and scare you because you didn’t hear them coming. Cats are like farts in this way— silent, but deadly.
Third, kittens are adorable. You can’d deny it, no matter how much you may hate cats.
When I find myself in a moment of weakness, believing that kittens are adorable, I just remember what they will grow up to be and I quickly get over it.
Fourth, we buy into the stereotypes that cats are all intelligent (evil geniuses, if you will). In cat/dog friendships, we imagine dogs to be lovable idiots and cats to be schemers that roll their eyes at dogs’ stupidity. In these stereotyped friendships, if dogs talked they would probably sound like Kevin from The Office, and cats would sound like Professor Snape. Remember when Kevin spilled the pot of chili on the office floor? Imagine if that were Snape. This is the general principle of why we think cat videos are funny.
Fifth and finally, cats aren’t trying to make you laugh. Everything they do that’s funny (or dare I say… adorable) is either by nature of their personalities or purely accidental. The humor in cat videos is not forced. Sometimes, we don’t need complicated jokes or euphemisms to make us laugh— all we need are simple video clips like this.