Today, while browsing around on social media (as is part of my JOB, how cool is that??), I came across a post from Avalaunch Media which had me giggling. It is social media, explained by cute cats. Cats dominate the internet, so what better way to explain the difference uses of social media than with cats? But that got me thinking: Why on earth does the internet love cats so much?
Last year, an author over at TechHive tried to answer why the internet loves cats. Before we go any further, let’s all agree that we are not disputing the fact that the internet loves cats. This statement is undeniably true.
Author Elizabeth Fish explains that the practice of captioning photos of cats and anthropomorphizing them has been around since long before the internet. Why, a guy started making postcards of captioned cat photos at the turn of the 20th century! She proposes that this practice probably started because cats are cute, and because they seem to share so much in human emotion. They are “quirky and expressive”, making them easily relatable.
Her most convincing point is that cat owners, unlike dog owners, don’t have a default social outlet (can you imagine a bunch of cat owners bringing their kittehs to a cat park? Lol.) In the United States alone nearly 90 million cats are kept as house pets, and it’s natural that these cat owners would want to bond over their love of felines. So they turn to the internet, and communities such as icanhascheezburger.com (aka LOLcats) spring up and thrive.
By making our pets into internet memes (here’s a definition if you don’t know what that is), we’re also giving them (and vicariously ourselves) those elusive and attractive 15 minutes of fame. We’ve already seen it with our friend Henri (who has ennui). Even the French love their cat memes! It doesn’t seem to work as well with any other animal: cats are the internet’s beloved mascot.
Even after reading the TechHive article and writing this post, I was still feeling baffled as to why the internet specifically (and predominantly) loves cats. So do you know that? I typed my question directly into Google, and here’s what I got:
Erik, who ever you are, you are a genius. In fewer than 140 characters you have answered the $64,000 question far better than I could have.
Love on, internet. Love on.