Cuteness Overload. Do Cat Videos Boost Your Mood?

Our Feline Friends Spreading Joy

Cats have been charming us humans for thousands of years. From ancient Egypt, where cats were revered as gods, to the proliferation of funny cat memes today, our fascination with felines endures. But it’s only recently that scientists have started quantifying the feel-good power of internet cat videos. In one survey of more than 7,000 people, watching cat videos online was associated with boosted positive emotions and lowered negative feelings ( This article explores the research behind why viewing cat videos tends to lift our mood and provides tips for ethically enjoying these clips.

Popularity of Cat Videos

Cat videos have become immensely popular online in recent years. According to Guinness World Records, the cat video with the most views on YouTube is “That Little Puff” featuring a ragdoll cat named Puff, which has accrued over 7.5 billion views as of April 2022.

Some of the most well-known and widely shared cat videos and memes include “Nyan Cat”, an animated flying pop-tart cat from 2011 that has over 167 million views on YouTube; “Very Angry Cat”, featuring a gray cat snarling at the camera, with over 28 million views; and “Surprised Kitty”, showing a cat with huge wide eyes, viewed over 27 million times.

The popularity of these videos demonstrates that cat-related internet content has become a widespread cultural phenomenon. People all over the world seem to love watching cute, funny and quirky cat videos online.

The Science of Laughter

Laughter has been shown to have many positive effects on the brain and body. When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins, which are chemicals that act as natural painkillers and can produce feelings of euphoria. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, laughter enhances oxygen intake, stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles, and increases endorphins released by the brain (

Laughter has also been found to reduce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. A 2016 review published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine looked at various studies on laughter therapy and found evidence that laughter can alter levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, helping to improve mood in individuals dealing with mental health issues (

Overall, the science indicates that laughter triggers the release of feel-good hormones that can relieve stress and pain, improve mood, and promote an overall sense of wellbeing.

Studies on Cat Videos and Mood

A recent study conducted by Dr. Jessica Gall Myrick at Indiana University examined the effects of watching cat videos on mood and emotional states. The results were published in a 2015 paper titled “Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?” (Myrick, 2015).

In the study, 7,000 participants completed online surveys before and after viewing cat videos. The researchers found that watching cat videos online significantly improved positive emotions like happiness, humor, and energy in the participants. Negative feelings like anxiety, annoyance, and sadness were also reduced after watching cat videos. According to Dr. Myrick, “Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

Another study by Jessica Gall Myrick in 2016 examined the specific emotional content and features of popular cat videos that elicit positive emotions. This study analyzed nearly 7,000 comments on YouTube cat videos and found that videos showing cats being silly or failing at jumping elicited the most intense positive emotional responses from viewers (Myrick, 2016).

Overall, these studies demonstrate empirically that watching cat videos online can lift mood, increase positive emotions, and decrease negative feelings in viewers. The cute, silly, and funny antics of cats in these videos appear to be effective at regulating emotions.

Cuteness and Happiness

The appeal of cuteness can have real effects on improving mood. Research has shown that cute images and behaviors activate the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine and endorphins that reduce stress and induce positive feelings. This response is due in part to a phenomenon called baby schema, or kindchenschema in German. Baby schema refers to infantile physical features like large eyes, chubby cheeks, and soft, round body shapes that humans find cute and endearing.

Studies have demonstrated that exposure to images and videos containing baby schema lead to greater attentional engagement, positive emotions, caregiving impulses, and perceived vulnerability. The brains of subjects reacted strongly to cute kittens and puppies, activating neural regions related to reward, social bonding, and caregiving instincts. Researchers concluded that cuteness not only makes us feel happier, but also makes us more inclined to care for the cute object as we would for an infant. This protective response appears to be deeply rooted in human behavioral evolution.

So when we view amusing or adorable cat videos, the baby schema inherent in the kittens triggers a biological drive to nurture them. Experiencing this heartwarming reaction provides mood-boosting effects. However, it’s important that viewers remain ethical in their cat video habits, not supporting channels that exploit felines for profit or social media fame.

See: Cuteness Evokes the Heartwarming Emotion of Kama Muta

Limitations and Concerns

While research shows that watching cat videos can lift mood and reduce stress for many people, it’s important to note that individual preferences may vary. Not everyone will enjoy or be amused by cat videos to the same degree. Some may find certain cat behaviors or tropes reinforcing of gender stereotypes about feminine hobbies and interests. While cats themselves are not limited by gender, the viral popularity of cat videos could potentially reinforce stereotypes connecting cats more with women than men.

As with any media trend, ethical consumption requires thoughtfulness. As noted in research from When it comes to stereotypes, 4 in 10 cat owners think black cats are bad luck, viral cat media often relies on and spreads stereotypical representations. Viewers should be aware of associating cats with particular genders, ethnicities, or personalities without evidence. While cat videos can bring joy, they also require care to avoid fueling stereotypes.

The Takeaway

The evidence we’ve looked at in this article suggests that watching cat videos can lift mood for many people. Studies have shown increases in positive emotion and decreases in negative emotion after viewing cute cat videos. Surveys also indicate that watching cat videos is a popular method people use to cheer themselves up.

However, it’s important to note that individuals differ in their preferences. While many find cat videos uplifting, others may not be as enthused or could even find them irritating. The positive effects seem most pronounced for cat lovers and those who consider themselves fans of cute animal content. Additionally, overdoing cat video viewing could potentially lead to emotional numbness.

So in moderation, cat videos appear to provide a genuine mood boost for those who enjoy them. But individuals should tailor video selections to their personal tastes and notice if overconsumption leads to diminishing returns.

Tips for Ethical Cat Viewing

While cat videos can brighten your day, it’s important to keep ethics in mind when watching them. Here are some tips:

If you’re looking to add a furry friend to your family, consider adopting from a local shelter rather than shopping. There are millions of cats waiting for homes. Adopting is more affordable than buying from a breeder or pet store, and shelter pets are often already vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and microchipped.

Avoid watching channels or compilation videos that depict cats in exploitative ways just for clicks and shares. Look for signs of animal cruelty like rough handling, putting cats in obvious distress, or unsafe situations. Seek channels that prioritize cat health, safety and happiness.

Consider supporting cat rescue and adoption organizations rather than individual cat channels. This helps ensure cats are cared for properly beyond just video fame.

As you watch cat videos, keep in mind that cats have feelings and needs just like humans. Enjoy the amusement they provide, but don’t permit content that exploits them.

Funny Cat Videos Compilation

Here is a compilation of some classic funny cat videos from YouTube that are sure to make you laugh or at least put a smile on your face:

Watching these funny cat videos made me chuckle and lifted my mood. The cats getting scared by cucumbers, the curious kittens stick their heads through cat doors, and the cats failing jumps are all amusing to watch. Even though I’ve seen some of these clips before, they still make me laugh. There’s something universally funny about cats acting silly, goofy or getting surprised that connects with our sense of humor. While too much screen time isn’t healthy, taking a short break to watch cute, funny animal videos can be a quick pick-me-up when you need a boost.


In summary, the available evidence indicates that watching cat videos tends to provide a short-term boost in positive mood and happiness for many people. The combination of the cute appearance and playful antics of kittens and cats appears to trigger an emotional response resulting in laughter, smiles, and elevated mood. While these effects seem well-documented through multiple studies, more research is still needed, particularly on the long-term impacts of habitual cat video viewing. There is a risk that relying on quick boosts of feline-induced happiness could lead to less resilience in coping with adversity in normal life. As with any habit, moderation is key. But used wisely, cat videos can be an effective way to get a quick hit of positivity during the day.

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