How Do Cat Videos Make Money on YouTube? The Secret Revealed

Cat videos have become an extremely popular genre on YouTube over the past decade. While homemade videos of pets have existed since the early days of the internet, cat videos really went viral with the rise of YouTube in the mid to late 2000s. According to ABC News, over 12,000 years worth of cat videos were watched on YouTube in 2011 alone. Some of the most iconic viral cat videos include classics like Keyboard Cat, Maru the Cat, and Nyan Cat. The Walker Art Center even began hosting an annual Internet Cat Video Festival in 2012 to showcase the most popular and creative cat videos on YouTube. It’s clear that cat videos have become a deeply ingrained part of internet culture and YouTube’s history.

Monetization Basics on YouTube

YouTube offers content creators several ways to monetize their videos and channels, but there are requirements for gaining access to each monetization feature on the platform.

The main ways YouTubers make money include:

  • Google AdSense – YouTubers can enroll in Google’s partner program to place ads on their videos and earn a share of revenue from impressions. Videos must comply with advertiser-friendly guidelines.
  • Sponsorships – Popular YouTubers can get direct sponsorships and brand deals to promote products in their videos. This requires having an engaged audience and high viewership.
  • Merchandise – YouTubers can create and sell custom branded merchandise through sites like Teespring. Promoting merchandise in videos helps drive sales.
  • Donations – Viewers can send direct donations through platforms like Patreon as a way to support their favorite YouTuber’s channel.

To gain access to monetization, a YouTube channel must meet these basic requirements:

  • Have at least 1,000 subscribers.
  • Reach 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.
  • Adhere to YouTube’s community guidelines and terms of service.
  • Be linked to an AdSense account in good standing.
  • Live in a supported country/region.

Meeting the thresholds allows YouTubers to turn on monetization features like ads, Super Chat, Channel Memberships and merchandise. Consistently creating engaging content that attracts views and subscribers is key to scaling earnings over time.

Ad Revenue

Cat videos can generate a decent amount of money from ads on YouTube. According to a Medium article, the average earnings per 1,000 views was $3.94 across their top 49 videos [1]. On Reddit, users estimate around $0.018 per view for an average YouTuber [2]. However, cat videos tend to appeal more to younger audiences which may impact potential ad revenue. The main factors that determine earnings are:

factors like views and watch time impact potential ad revenue

  • Number of views – More views means more ad impressions and revenue.
  • Watch time – Longer videos and higher engagement leads to more ad slots.
  • Demographics – Age, gender, interests, location of viewers impacts ad rates.
  • Ad inventory – Having lots of advertisers bidding allows maximizing revenue.

In general, viral cat videos can generate substantial income from YouTube ads but the amount varies considerably based on multiple factors.


Cat videos can certainly attract sponsors due to their popularity and wide reach on YouTube. According to Get Hype Media, sponsors paid YouTubers an average of $0.089 per view in 2020. For viral cat videos with millions of views, this can add up to big money.

sponsored cat videos can earn thousands based on high view counts

One example is the famous Grumpy Cat, whose YouTube videos racked up over 2 million views. With that kind of viewership, Grumpy Cat’s sponsorships likely earned thousands of dollars per video. Sponsors are eager to tap into the massive audience of cute cat content.

Other popular cat YouTubers like Cole and Marmalade (with over 2 million subscribers) and Kittisaurus (over 1.3 million subscribers) feature sponsored content for major brands like Temptations cat treats. The exact sponsorship amounts are private deals, but they certainly earn sizable revenues from these promotions.

In general, more views brings more money from sponsors. For viral cat videos that catch the internet’s eye, promotions can earn tens of thousands of dollars or more. Even lesser-known channels can secure sponsorships in the hundreds or thousands for their cutest cat content. Overall, the feel-good nature and wide appeal of cat videos makes them well-suited for lucrative sponsorships.


Selling merchandise can be a lucrative avenue for cat video channels on YouTube. Popular merchandise items include t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases and other accessories featuring cute cat designs or funny catchphrases from the channel. According to, top YouTubers can make millions per year selling merchandise.

merchandise like cat t-shirts and mugs can generate sales revenue

For example, famous cat channel Cole and Marmalade has an online store selling various cat-themed apparel and accessories. Another popular cat channel, Lil BUB, sold merchandise like socks, plush toys and calendars featuring the internet-famous feline. While most viewers won’t buy merchandise, even a small percentage of a channel’s audience converting to sales can yield significant income. Successful YouTubers recommend quality designs that channel fans will be proud to wear and display.


Cat channels can earn revenue from donations and tips from fans. Platforms like Patreon allow fans to contribute monthly donations to support their favorite cat channels. YouTube also offers a “Super Chat” feature where viewers can pay to have their comments highlighted during live streams. According to one source, Super Chat revenue is split – YouTube takes 30% of the payment and the YouTuber receives the remaining 70% (1).

Donations can add up, especially for popular cat channels. But the actual revenue earned depends on the number of dedicated fans willing to financially support the channel. Unlike ad revenue which is based on views, donations rely entirely on the voluntary support of fans. For smaller channels, donations may only represent a small percentage of total earnings. Bigger channels with lots of loyal fans can potentially earn hundreds or thousands per month through donations (2).

In addition to monthly donations, tipping allows fans to make one-time contributions. Sites like StreamLabs let viewers tip streamers during live broadcasts. As with other donation platforms, StreamLabs takes a percentage of each tip before passing the remainder on to the content creator (3).

So in summary, cat channels have options to generate direct revenue from fans through recurring monthly donations or one-time tips and contributions. While it varies considerably based on the size of the fanbase, donations can become a meaningful income stream for popular cat channels.


Case Studies

Maru the cat is one of the most popular cat channels on YouTube, with over 377 million views. According to the article “My Experiment to Get Rich From Making Viral Cat Videos”, monetized videos can bring in $1 to $10 per 1,000 views. With 377 million views, Maru could potentially be earning between $377,000 to $3.77 million from his YouTube channel.

Another very popular cat channel is Cole and Marmalade, with over 211 million views. Using the same earnings estimates, Cole and Marmalade could be making between $211,000 to $2.11 million from their YouTube channel. These earnings demonstrate the significant money-making potential of viral cat videos on YouTube.


Going viral repeatedly with cat videos can be difficult. Cat videos often gain popularity through chance, timing, and luck. Recreating the magic of a viral hit is not easy. Creators need to consistently come up with fresh, unique, funny, or adorable cat content. Often a cat may have their 15 minutes of fame from a single viral video, but extending that into an ongoing audience can prove challenging.

Maintaining audience interest over time takes effort too. Viewers may watch a cute or funny cat video once, but they likely won’t subscribe and come back just for more of the same. To build a loyal following, creators need to showcase new tricks, situations, costumes, interactions, and more. It takes creativity and understanding the audience to continue providing the type of cat content they want to see. Planning varied, dynamic videos and social media content is key to holding people’s attention.

Tips for Making Money

For cat channels to maximize earnings on YouTube, it’s important to focus on best practices like consistently producing engaging content, optimizing videos for discoverability, and actively engaging with your audience. Building a strong brand and community around your channel can open up additional revenue opportunities.

Offering merchandising like t-shirts, mugs, and other branded products allows loyal viewers to publicly display their fandom. Setting up an online merchandise shop through platforms like Teespring or Spreadshop lets you earn profits on merchandise sales. Promoting your merch through your channel and social media provides a natural marketing channel.

building a brand and community unlocks additional monetization

Seeking sponsorships relates closely to building your brand identity. Pet food and toy brands often sponsor cat channels to get their products featured in videos. When approached by sponsors or accepting PR packages, transparently disclose sponsorships following FTC guidelines. This maintains trust with your audience.

Patreon or channel membership programs allow dedicated fans to directly support your channel through monthly contributions. In return, members get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and access. This gives your biggest supporters a closer connection while providing a revenue stream directly from your audience.

Optimizing your content and channel for the YouTube Partner Program is key for earning the most ad revenue. This means understanding SEO and how to craft compelling thumbnails and titles. Creating consistent content that encourages viewers to binge multiple videos boosts watch time and earnings. Track analytics to see which video types perform best.


In summary, cat videos have proven to be a highly lucrative genre on YouTube and other platforms when creators fully utilize the various monetization options available. Ad revenue from Google and other third-party networks provides a steady stream of income, especially for channels that consistently put out new and engaging content featuring cute kitties. Partnering with brands for sponsorships and developing fun cat-themed merchandise can produce additional income sources. For dedicated fans, donations and crowdfunding campaigns also help support cat video producers financially. Many top cat video creators earn respectable full-time incomes from their online content and have turned their kitty passion into a viable career.

Looking ahead, the future continues to look bright for cat videos, as they have become a staple genre that is almost guaranteed to be popular year after year. However, competition has increased significantly, so standing out with high quality, unique content showcasing photogenic and interesting cats will be key. Developing a brand and reputation around a specific personality or theme can help channels thrive among the crowded playing field. Overall, cat videos will likely remain a lucrative and stable niche, especially for those who stay ahead of trends, develop loyal fans, and branch out with creative monetization and promotion tactics. The internet’s love for fluffy furballs does not appear to be fading anytime soon.

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