Why are cat photos and videos so popular?

Thousands of cat photos and videos are shared on social media every day. So why are cats becoming an internet phenomenon?

For many, cats are the official mascot of the modern technology we call the Internet. Cats are one of the most shared images in the modern world. According to Çağrı Mert Bakırcı of Evolution Tree,; Interestingly, in a study from the University of Texas at Austin, most people (42%) described themselves as “dog people” when asked directly. Only 12% describe themselves as “cat people”; 28% considered them “both cats and dogs”. 15% of the participants did not feel close to any animal.

In other words, the proportion of people who did not feel close to cats or dogs was even higher than those who clearly felt close to cats. However, how did cats come to dominate the internet to such an extent?


If you look at sites like reddit or 4chan, which are the main producers of content on the Internet, it is possible to find dozens of sections dedicated to cats; dogs or other animals are much more secondary or tertiary. It’s no coincidence that many memes that go viral are about cats, with “Saturday” meaning “Saturday” being changed to “Caturday” (aka “Cat Saturday”) in English. Besides the fact that dogs don’t fit in this kind of “low culture”, they are often the target of cats when they make their way, so frames with funny pictures are becoming popular.


Cats are so common in the digital world that it is estimated that around 2 million cat videos have been uploaded to YouTube in 10 years, and these videos have been viewed 24.6 billion times in total. It is believed that there are around 12,000 views per chat video, which is a higher view rate than the overall YouTube average. The first “cat video” uploaded to YouTube was uploaded by Steve Chen, co-founder of the platform, on May 22, 2005.

The probability of sharing a cat photo is higher than the probability of sharing a selfie

Also interesting are the statistics on cats shared so often: according to a study from Indiana University, people are 2 times more likely to post photos/videos of cats than selfies. The first viral cat video, Puppy vs. Cat, on the other hand, was downloaded in 2006 and has had 16.6 million views as of this writing. During an interview on Reddit, Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founders of the internet, said that cats surprised him the most in terms of internet usage.

Interestingly, people who watch more cat videos were found to be more understandable overall, which means they are more cooperative, friendlier, and more trustworthy. People who frequently watch cat videos tend to be more shy. The story’s first video essays also quickly became the subject of cats. For example, in an 1894 video taken by Henry Welton of the Edison Manufacturing Company, owned by great inventor Thomas Edison, two boxer cats are seen.

With the prevalence of cats on the Internet comes an interesting paradox: in fact, people are more often searching for dogs on the Internet; but chat content is more frequent! For example, 2 million people follow the “cats” page and 6.5 million people follow the “dogs” page on Facebook. Cats make up 16% of YouTube’s “Pets” category and dogs 23%.


In light of all of this, it’s interesting to understand why chats are such a popular part of internet culture. According to Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room, the reason cats are so common on the internet is because cat faces look like human faces (especially human baby faces). According to Tucker, “the cats are surprisingly human-like, but also quite dead.”

But to claim that the only reason cats are so popular is because they’re “so cute” is a simplistic explanation. Because many things are sweet to people; but none are as common as Internet chats. Also, what is perceived as “soft” is a concept that varies from culture to culture. For example, in Japan, cats are the most common pet, while in parts of Africa goats are the main pets and the symbol of “gentleness” is the goat for them. Cats, on the other hand, seem to have had international memetic success.

According to some, this is only a selective perception. For example, according to a Vogue review, cats are not very popular on the Internet; This so-called popularity is entirely dependent on geography. They claim that only cats are popular only in North America, Western Europe and Japan. By contrast, goats and chickens are popular in Uganda, llamas in Mexico, and river crabs and alpaca-like horses in China. In other words, since the Internet culture is dominated by the United States and Japan, there is a perception that the Internet is also dominated by cats. However, as the demographics of the Internet evolve over time, the memes that symbolize sweetness will also evolve and change.

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