Whenever and wherever you go online now it seems highly likely – if not impossible – that you won’t spy a funny feline video or a cute cat picture. According to Google, the term ‘cats’ gets searched 30 million times a month; to put that into context ‘Kim Kardashian’ is searched 11 million times a month. Cats have become the rulers of the digital waves that we all so regularly ‘surf’. So how and why have internet cats such as ‘Grumpy Cat’ become such a hit on the internet?
To tackle this question we have to look at where the majority of the furry action comes from; social media.
Since the rise of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, peoples’ lives have been interconnected in such a quick and cementing fashion, that we haven’t even had time to look back ten years ago and think about how much of our life we actually ‘shared’ with others. To say that social media has rapidly become the norm of everyday life is an understatement of the grandest proportions – the fact that I could type the aforementioned names of social media sites with not one of them being flagged up by spellcheck is amazing in its own right.
Is it any wonder that once everyone became hooked they started sharing their inner most thoughts, inane quarrels with the world and videos or pictures of their cats? Social media is a platform for broadcasting to your online community just what you’re all about and if you’re a cat owner, then this is a big part of your life.
The same goes for YouTube; where once you had to send off your VHS to Jeremy Beadle and wait weeks for a response, hoping that ‘You’ve Been Framed’ would air your side-splitting video of your cat trying to attack itself in the mirror, you can now film it and post it online to potentially millions of fellow cat lovers in a matter of minutes. For example, the ‘Keyboard Cat’ video has had over 31 million views since it was uploaded in 2007.
But why have cats specifically become more popular than dogs online? Aren’t dogs just as funny, if not more humanlike in expression and vocalisation? What is it that makes cats so fascinating?
Well for me personally, I feel that the stereotype of a cat’s character lends itself more to the internet than that of a dog’s. Cats are seen as more aloof animals that stay clear from attention unless a) they are hungry or b) they are in the mood for it. So when a funny picture of a cat lying in a weird position or pulling a funny face is posted up online, maybe subconsciously we find it more hilarious than that of a dog because let’s face it, dogs love the attention.
Cats are widely seen as the pets that prefer to be left to their own devices, therefore, when they are caught doing something funny or cute, people are more likely to react, ‘share’, ‘retweet’, ‘like’, ‘favourite’ or whatever function the site may have on offer for posts.
I realise upon reading this you’ll take for me for a cat lover, but this is not the case. I just feel that cats have that little more of an ‘edge’ online. And it’s not just me that has noticed the merits of internet cats, Procatinator, thekittencovers.tumblr.com and lolcats.com are just some of the websites that dedicate their lives to bringing you the internet’s best cats.
Interestingly, when Cravendale Milk created their television advert campaign titled ‘Cats with Thumbs’, the company saw an 8% increase in sales and a 10% increase in brand awareness – whilst the advert received 7 million YouTube views.
Welcome to the cat revolution!