Cats rule the Internet. Whether you’re a cat person, dog person, or just a heartless soul who couldn’t care less about soft little fur babies, you’ll find it difficult to avoid the Web’s virtual cat park. Thousands of pictures and videos lie in wait for the latest victim of overwhelming cuteness. Why are cats the Internet’s favorite pet? I will employ evidence surrounding human nature, cat nature, and celebri-cat culture to support three theories.
Theory 1. We want to punish cats.
Cats are a*sholes. They bite, scratch, vomit, kill, demand food, party all night, and leave in their purring wake incalculable quantities of hair, dander, and feces. Deep down, every cat owner knows that cats are gross and evil. And because cats are so despicable, we sort of want to hurt them.
Of course, that would be abuse. A better way to get back at cats for being such jerks is to humiliate them on the Internet: a silly cat video, stupid meme—voila, we have managed to demean the animal that brings us such pain. Fluffy crapped in the sink? Ha, now we’re calling her Hitler on Instagram—no, make that Kitler. Too bad she can’t do anything about that mustache. Is Fluffy overweight? A more grown-up alternative to fat-shaming is cat-shaming. No harm, no foul.
Theory 2. It’s a Cat-Spiracy.
Perhaps today’s millions of cat memes are the work of cats themselves, rather than the result of human ingenuity. Fed up with our superior attitudes and idiotic rules, cats are standing up for themselves online. For all we know, cats have long since employed this method to deliver subliminal messages to humans. Cats manipulate us by posing for videos and pictures, which we assume are artifacts of our pets’ capacity for cuteness. Once this “entertainment” goes viral, our cats’ hidden intelligence can be easily distributed to humans worldwide.
Skeptical about a cat-spiracy? Other mysterious schemes, like the Illuminati, Anonymous, and Siri, were also spread through the Web. Perhaps the real culprit was the cat community. Considering that we’ve been worshiping cats since the days of Ancient Egypt, it’s not such a senseless theory. Even now, we’re inexplicably placing cats in charge of ourselves. Recently, a kitten replaced Seattle’s mayor for a full day. City Hall was, of course, renamed “Kitty Hall.” If the cats are in charge, they are doing a good job, and will soon dominate the world.
Theory 3. We seek to nurture the helpless and stupid.
Studies show that we respond to the huge eyes and plaintive meows of cats and kittens in the same way that human mothers do to newborn babies. When childless loners are denied the American dream of a spouse and children due to a lack of social skills, good looks, or sexual prowess, they often turn to cats instead. After all, cats were bred categorically for cuteness. As we obsess the most over cats who appear helpless, our favorite felines are particularly derpy, deformed, and disfigured.
Top celebri-cats include Nala Cat, whose derp claim to fame is permanently crossed eyes, Grumpy Cat, whose angry glare is the result of feline dwarfism, and Lil’ Bub, a cat born with numerous developmental deformities—most notably a lack of teeth—whose tongue waggles out 24/7. Other members of the derp-list include Princess Monster Truck, whose sharp underbite appears to have been transplanted from her upper jaw, and Colonel Meow, who resembles an elderly man with dementia.
The Internet has convinced us that looking at cat pictures and videos is a suitable replacement to loving and helping other people, so watching these weirdos attempt to live “normal” cat lives can be quite fulfilling.
We live in an age where everyone is fast to jump on a bandwagon, start a protest, or troll away. These days, cats may not be the best friend of man, but the evidence that they are the best friends of mankind— and the ultimate motivation for online page-viewing—is found indisputable when one logs onto Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If it’s got fur or purr, it’s bound to go viral.
Whether we protect the helpless or play devil’s advocate, projecting our deepest and most desperate desires and fears onto the feline countenance gives us the opportunity to jump on that bandwagon, and spread the mighty word-of-cat: HEAR ME ROAR.
By Kiki Genoa