Swamp Talk: Our Obsession with Cat Videos

By Emily Stanton

Image Courtesy: pinguino
Image Courtesy: pinguino

I’m pretty sure the Internet is run by cats. It’s all a part of their evil plan to enslave humans and take over the world. How else could they garner billions upon billions of YouTube hits, Tumblr reblogs and Instagram likes?

It’s a conspiracy; I swear.

Twenty-two-year-old journalism senior Meaghan Cloherty disagrees. Cat videos dominate the internet because of their absurdity, she said.

“They’re hilarious and ridiculous and usually very cute,” Cloherty said. “It probably has to do with how seriously they seem to take themselves – like a cat darting out of a box to bat something with its paw, or leaping out of a widow or sitting on a Roomba with this unimpressed expression – like it’s such a normal thing to do.”

Cloherty has always loved cats, and considers watching cat videos to be a national pastime.

“They’re just such weird animals, and it’s hard to know how they’ll react next,” she said.

Rachel Seaman believes the secret to the success of Internet cat videos lies in the cuteness of the feline.

“They’re cuddly and have their own little personalities,” the 21-year-old wildlife ecology major said.

I can see her point. It’s hard to resist a doe-eyed fluff ball, and there is a scientific reason for that.

Humans are biologically hardwired to find babies adorable. If we didn’t, it would be hard for parents to bond with their newborns.

In his essay “A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse,” Steve Gould outlines the features that make baby animals so cute – big, round heads and big eyes.

Julie Levy, director of the University of Florida’s Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, says these features bring out the best in our nurturing instincts.

The feline expert said cat videos do a public service by lightening our spirits in hard times.

“People love to watch cat videos because cats are clearly the superior species,” Levy said. “No other animals can compete with their grace, athleticism and pure self-centeredness. They teach us how to get the most out of life. Face it, everyone is jealous of cats.”

It is their curiosity, cuteness and charismatic nature that keep us coming back to get our fix…or it’s possibly mind control. I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

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