At last, science explains why you love cat videos

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The next time you encounter one of those people—people who simply don't get why the cinematic genre known as "cat videos" is such a big deal—you now have the perfect response: According to a new study, cat videos are good for your health, and the cat-vid hater is probably a really unhappy person who lives a sad, catless existence.

Okay, so perhaps I exaggerate. But according to the research, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, watching cat videos has been loosely linked to increased positive emotions and energy levels.


How did the researchers come to such delightful conclusions? They began by surveying nearly 7,000 people about how watching cat videos affects their mood. Thirty-six percent of the participants were self-described “cat people,” 3 percent considered themselves "dog people," and 60 percent said they enjoyed the company of both cats and dogs.

Based on their survey results, researchers found that participants felt a rise in positive emotions—“hopeful,” “happy,” and “content”—after viewing cat videos or photos. (No word on cat GIFs.) They also felt a decrease in negative emotions—“anxious,” annoyed,” “sad,” and “guilty”— after looking at some cat stuff. And participants reported higher energy levels after consuming some Internet cats as well.

The study also found that while folks watch cat videos at work or when they’re supposed to be studying, the joy they feel from looking at someone else’s pet actually cancels out the guilt they feel about procrastinating. So cats literally put the “pleasure” in guilty pleasure (and also take out the “guilty,” I suppose).


"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," said Jessica Gall Myrick, assistant professor at The Media School at Indiana University.

"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,” she added. “Damn straight,” I then added enthusiastically.


Obviously, the study has some shortcomings. For one, it's suspicious that only 3 percent of the respondents were self-reported "dog lovers," compared to 36 percent of self-reported "cat lovers." Also, the researchers admit that “most respondents” in their sample were female, which, um, makes a lot of sense.


So I guess science just confirmed what we already know: People who like animals and who are most likely women will feel better after looking at cute cat videos. Just to make sure, though, I think I’ll dedicate the rest of the day, NAY, THE WEEK, to doing some first-hand research.