I Has A Happy
I Watched 100 Cat Videos for Science
A new study says cat videos are good for your mental health. So 100 of them in a row must be even better, right?
Grumpy Cat isn’t just an Internet phenomenon, movie star and cause of procrastination across the globe: watching the curmudgeonly kitty and her feline friends can actually benefit your health, according to a new study. As if the hours of entertainment provided weren’t enough, Internet cat videos have the additional powers of boosting viewers’ energy and minimizing negative feelings.
The research, undertaken by Jessica Gall Myrick at Indiana University, surveyed nearly 7,000 people on the effect that watching cat clips had on their mood. “Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick said of the study. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.”
More than two million cat videos were posted on YouTube last year, racking up some 26 million views—a staggering yet perhaps unsurprising figure given the original Grumpy Cat clip, which features just 55 seconds of her belly being rubbed, has been watched 18 million times since it was posted in 2012. Of all YouTube’s categories, cats continually clock up the highest number of views per video.
“We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us,” Myrick explained “As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.” The study also set out to ascertain whether watching the clips could yield a similar positive impact to pet therapy, which can be an instrumental treatment for those suffering from emotional or cognitive distress.
Of the study’s participants, around 36 percent said they were a ‘cat person,’ with 60 percent stating they liked both cats and dogs. Myrick’s findings showed that viewers felt more positive and energetic after having watched cat videos than they had prior to the viewing, and that negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety diminished as they watched. The study also found that the happiness induced by consuming online kitty media outweighed the guilt viewers felt about procrastinating in order to do so.
Inspired by these cheerful feline fans, I decided to undertake my own experiment: would I still be feeling chipper and guilt-free after watching 100 cat videos? Here’s what I found…
Five videos in
So far, I’m feeling good. I’ve seen a tabby tackle a small child, a silky black long-hair faceplant a beanbag and Grumpy Cat try and fail to bite her owner’s finger. Energy-wise, I’m feeling pretty pumped. Let’s go, kitty cats.
15 videos in
I’m headed to the 20 percent completion mark and plagued by one key concern: I don’t think I can get on board with Lil Bub. I’ve just watched several minutes of some kind of weird point-of-view chow down where she mouth-breathes her way through a bowl of yogurt and I gotta tell you, it wasn’t pretty. I’m unsure why or how 180,000 people could watch this and feel in any way satisfied, and in truth, I’m not sure I want to know.
My thoughts were definitely feeling less positive after yogurt-gate but I’m picking things back up with “Jedi Kittens Strike Back”—a mashup for all the sci-fi/four-legged fans out there. I’ve never actually seen Star Wars, but this version with lasers and kittens is pretty awesome. I hope JJ Abrams hires these guys for the sequel.
50 videos in
Full disclosure: I am not a cat person. I’m sorry. I just watched a mom cat swipe her spawn onto the floor and I’m thinking, ‘you know who wouldn’t do that? A dog!’ For they are beacons of joy and spend significantly less time getting run over or licking their own buttholes than their feline counterparts. These are qualities I value in a domestic pet.
I’ve gone cross-platform and stumbled across some Vines, though, and these whiskery tykes are showing me the light. Particular favorites include a literal cat fight with a printer, two tortoiseshells using a mop as a sledge and a puppy chewing a kitten’s ear. I’m back on board.
75 videos in
This is a lot of cat videos for a human person to watch. Is it normal to watch 100 cat videos in one sitting? Don’t answer that. Some quality mini-movies include a cat hurling a banana into its own face and another running into a glass door during a news report. I’m worried this excess video consumption has heightened my taste for schadenfreude, but on the flip side, the rate at which I’m clicking through these clips has probably made enough money for a second Cat Journalism division at BuzzFeed, so at least I have that to feel good about.
In other kitty vid news, Lil Bub just met a tiger and appeared to burp in its face. Gross but cool, Lil Bub. Gross but cool.
I feel it’s important to note at this point that I did actually own cat at one point. My old roommate rescued it from Queens, relocated it to our apartment in Chinatown and then moved to Uzbekistan, leaving it in the capable hands of myself and two allergic renters. It spent a lot of time in the allergic dude’s bed while he was at work. The guy sneezed for three straight months and then moved out.
100 videos in
I’ve made it. This is the final feline frontier. I have seen cats give thumbs ups, pick up spoons with their kitty claws and get their chill on in a bubble bath. Cats can do it all, man. (Except be dogs.)
In terms of energy, I’m feeling good—ditto positivity. I’m also definitely not feeling bad about the procrastination, which in this instance has allowed me to waste time watching fur balls do all kinds of messed up stuff while putting ice on my broken toe and pretending I don’t need to go to the Emergency Room. I can only hope the restorative powers of this two-year-old frozen wonton packet is as good as that of the iddy biddy kitties.
Conclusion: if science is to bless us with the information that cat video-based procrastination is good for us, who are we to judge?