Photo Credit: the1pony via Compfight cc
It is no secret that cats are much loved on the Internet. If the success of the Internet Cat Video Festival is any sort of yardstick to go by, people are pretty into cats. Sure, dogs get some attention too, but what did cats do to get such a great deal of adoration?
I suppose it all comes down to the reasoning behind the activity. Cats don’t necessarily care what you think. When a dog does an activity he is really just trying to get your attention and approval, which is great if you are teaching him a trick, but he wouldn’t do that outside the scope of trying to build a relationship with you. In short, dogs are the approval-seeking nerds that seem to fall short out of an inherent lack of personal leadership and nonchalance. Contrast this with a fun-loving feline with an attitude, who does things entirely because they feel like it: you have a completely different story. When a cat decides to attempt a death-defying leap from the table to the windowsill, they are doing it because it seems like a good idea. As humans, we are inherently social creatures, and drawn to leadership, which is encapsulated in doing things before checking if everyone agrees on something. Cats tend to be very experiential, fiercely independent, and incredibly curious. These traits provide a great deal of unpredictability in their behaviour, which in turn comes across as incredibly cute.

The best thing about cats is that they have the perfect blend of cuteness and ego to make a fall from grace particularly hilarious. When Miss Fuzzymuffin fails in her attempts, she indignantly raises her head and pretends as though the humiliation did not occur. Perhaps this is not the nicest theory for why we love watching cats online, but this borderline sadistic trait may have something to it. Of course, no one wants their cat to get hurt, but in the same way that seeing someone fall over or suffer a similar moderately painful humiliation makes us laugh, seeing our pride-filled pets knocked down a peg is potentially another subconscious reason which explains our fascination with cats. Anyone who has owned a feline companion can easily vouch for just how proud these little creatures can be. This is why they are so absolutely loveable but also why it is incredibly hilarious when those adorable little egos get bruised.  There is something sickly satisfying watching Mr Biggles prance away from the scene of the failure captioned with “tis’ but a scratch!” So maybe our fascination in cats is borne out of some dark, repressed part of humanity that enjoys seeing others fail, or it could just be a combination of all of the above.