Oh hai, cat peeps.
Have you had your LOLcats fix for the day? How many cat pictures and videos have you seen since you sat down at your computer this morning? How many have you shared on Facebook in the well-founded belief that an audience of staggering proportions will be enthralled?
We can’t get enough of kittehs on the interwebs.
I suspect none of us was surprised when Google's network of research computers, programmed to recognize the most important internet content based on 10 million randomly chosen YouTube videos, came up with this picture of a cat.
We always knew they would take over the universe if we slipped up and cleared a path for them. The internet is that path. And we slipped up big time: humans have been reduced to the role of publicity agents. As with meals, cats couldn’t have done it if we weren’t around to open the can, so to speak, but the real power lies with them and they know it.
I just typed “funny cat pictures” into Google and in 0.46 seconds I received a list of 49.2 million sites. “Funny cat videos” generated more responses in less time: 69.5 million in 0.37 seconds. One gets the strong impression that Google’s search engine is used to answering these queries and stands ready at all times to shoot an emergency day-brightener to the computer of anyone in need.
The most famous cat on the interwebs, the one who can be credibly accused of starting it all, is Maru, a stout-bodied Scottish fold tabby (whose tiny ears stand straight up instead of folding) who resides in Japan. Maru’s thing is boxes, or, really, almost anything made of cardboard or plastic that he can use as a container for the aforementioned stout body. With wild abandon or careful calculation, depending on his mercurial feline mood, Maru jumps into boxes, jumps out of boxes, runs and slides into boxes, maneuvers boxes around the floor from within. The recently posted Marulympics featured only one athlete, Maru, doing only one thing, and you can probably guess what it was. He finished with a slew of gold medals.
|The world-famous Maru, doing what he does best|
What makes Maru so special? Darned if I know. Maybe we enjoy getting a concentrated dose of the cute things our own cats do on those rare occasions when they're awake and on their feet. Perhaps Maru only does cute stuff for the camera occasionally too, but any cat will look lively and athletic with proper editing.
If Maru has been the leader, we have seen no lack of followers. Every cat owner in the world seems to have a digital camera and video recorder and an irresistible urge to share the latest bit of adorableness from Kitty Sweetums with the world. If you’ve ever seen my Facebook page or my Flickr photostream, you know I’m as shameless as the rest about putting pictures of Emma and Gabriel out there. (Emma tends to be the funnier one.)
|Emma, being cute in the laundry sink|
But it’s not just feline cuteness that we go for. Well, maybe some shallow people demand all cuteness all the time, but I think most of us are looking for catness. A surly expression on the face of a battle-scarred old tom can captivate us as readily as the big eyes of a two month old kitten.
Are we attracted to their essential wildness, that untamed soul within the cutest of kitties? Dogs can be funny, certainly, but there’s always something forced about it, as if the animal expects to be rewarded with a treat. When we see a video of a dog playing the piano, we think, “Yeah, sure, a dog will do any trick to please its owner.” When a cat plays the piano, we know beyond doubt that it was the cat’s choice, the cat’s idea, and we marvel. Dogs, in short, allow themselves to be trained, so there is nothing natural about their cuteness beyond the puppy stage.
A popular subcategory of cat videos features cats playing tricks on or stealing food from dogs who are TSTL. (Watch it and weep.) We may love sweet doggies, but we recognize the biological truth embodied in these videos. Dogs are servants by nature, always laser-focused on their people. Cats exist to be served, and the supreme being in any cat’s life will always be...the cat. We may laugh at them, but we do it while bowing to their superiority.
Would you like your own cute cat – or dog, if that's all you've got – to appear in the Rachel Goddard novel I’m writing now? Go to my Facebook author page and post a photo of your pet. (“Like” the page first if you haven’t already.) The pet whose picture gets the most “likes” will be given a role in my work-in-progress, and the owner will receive a signed copy of my new book, Bleeding Through.