Why We Can’t Stop Watching Cat Videos


Cat videos have become an extremely popular internet phenomenon over the past decade. Videos featuring cute, funny, and quirky feline antics are ubiquitous across social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more. By some estimates, there are now hundreds of millions of cat videos online, with tens of thousands more being uploaded every day. Videos can range from simple clips of kittens playing to more produced content showing cats getting into hilarious situations or displaying unique talents. Whatever the format, these videos rack up massive view counts in the millions or even billions. Their popularity speaks to a universal appreciation for our furry feline friends and an endless appetite for lighthearted, upbeat content.

Psychological Factors

Cat videos appeal to our natural affinity for cuteness and silliness. Studies show that watching cute animal videos like cats activates the brain’s reward centers, providing a dopamine rush and positive feelings (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/06/16/the-fascinating-feel-good-psychology-of-internet-cat-videos/). Researchers found that viewing cute cat videos improved people’s mood, focus, and productivity. The silly antics of cats trigger the human attachment to pets and desire to care for something innocent.

Additionally, watching cat videos can provide a mental escape and stress relief. A 2015 study found that viewing cute animal content helps regulate emotions and procrastination (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563215004343). Cat videos allow us to take a quick break and decompress. The relatability of pets resonates on a deep level, as we empathize with the familiar quirks and behaviors of cats. In moderation, these amusing cat clips can lift our spirits and provide temporary joy.

Internet Culture

Cat videos have become an integral part of internet culture and online meme sharing. Sites like YouTube helped cat videos go viral in the mid to late 2000s, with early viral hits like Keyboard Cat in 2007. According to Wikipedia, “The video was posted to YouTube under the title “charlie schmidt’s cool cats” in June 2007. Schmidt later changed the title to “Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat” after people began calling it “Keyboard Cat”. Its view count rose from around 500,000 in 2009 to over 21 million by June 2010.” (Wikipedia)

The popularity of LOLcats and other cat memes also contributed to the rise in popularity of cat videos online. LOLcats combine pictures of cats with humorous text and captions. These viral images helped establish cats as one of the most popular subjects for internet memes.

Now cat videos are ubiquitous online and have become part of mainstream internet culture. Many popular YouTube channels feature funny or cute cat videos. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Reddit commonly share viral cat videos as well. The ease of filming cats and our obsession with these lovable pets has helped cat videos thrive online.

Ease of Filming

Cats are one of the most common household pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats are kept as pets in 38.4% of US households. This makes them readily available for their owners to film. Unlike wild animals, pet cats live in close proximity to people. Owners can easily grab a phone or camera to capture funny or cute things their cats do. With cats being common indoor pets, there are ample opportunities to film them in funny situations or displaying silly antics without much effort.

Short Format

One reason cat videos have become so popular online is due to their short length. Most viral cat videos are under 2 minutes long. This makes them easy to watch and share quickly across social networks. According to research by 2 Bridges, the average YouTube video is around 4 minutes, so cat videos tend to be on the shorter side. Their brevity allows them to spread rapidly across the internet. People can watch multiple cat videos back to back without losing interest. As one Quora user noted, watching 240 two-minute cat videos would take under 8 hours, making marathon viewing sessions possible. The short format caters perfectly to modern internet users’ increasingly shortened attention spans.

Relatable Pets

Many people own cats or can relate to feline behavior. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 38.4% of US households owned cats in 2016, making them the most popular pet in America. Cats are able to express a wide range of emotions and behaviors that humans can understand and empathize with. A playful kitten or a grumpy old cat can elicit strong emotional responses from viewers who see reflections of their own pets or personality traits. The relatability of cats allows people to easily anthropomorphize them and imagine intricate inner lives for internet cats. This emotional engagement and projection leads to greater enjoyment of cat videos.


In today’s fast-paced world, many people feel stressed or overwhelmed by work, family obligations, health issues, or other challenges. Watching cute, playful cat videos can provide a mental break and a brief escape from the stresses of everyday life. The charming antics of frisky felines allow viewers to get lost in the moment and forget their worries, if only for a few minutes. According to psychologist Suzanne Schlosberg, “It’s like a mental sorbet for the brain.” Cat videos offer a dose of lightheartedness that can lift one’s mood and spirits. Short doses of escapism and levity are important for mental health and can help people relax and recharge. While cat videos alone cannot eliminate life’s serious problems, the laughter and joy they elicit serves as a coping mechanism to relieve anxiety. In the words of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “The more one has suffered, the more one needs felicity.”


Cat videos tend to spread rapidly online because they are highly shareable content that people enthusiastically send to friends, family, and followers on social media. According to the New York Times, cat videos and GIFs have been going viral since the early days of the internet 1. Their wide appeal and cute nature make them content that many people want to share with others. Sharing entertaining or cute cat videos and memes online has become an international social phenomenon. People share cat videos not only for enjoyment but also as a way to bond and connect with others who find the content amusing or adorable. The easy shareability across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and messaging apps has certainly contributed to the vast spread of cat videos online.

Marketing Potential

Brands and advertisers leverage cat content for views and engagement. Cat videos tend to go viral online, garnering millions of views on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. This presents a major opportunity for brands looking to get their ads and products in front of a massive, engaged audience.

According to Entrepreneur, “Cat videos receive three times as many views as the average video online. In 2021 alone, people viewed about 30 billion cat videos.” [1] With such huge view counts, cat videos offer unparalleled visibility for brands. Savvy marketers have caught onto this and started sponsoring popular cat videos and channels.

Big brands like Nestle, Pedigree and Toyota have all run video ads alongside viral cat content. The high engagement levels allow their ads and branding to gain major exposure. As Tempesta Media notes, cat videos provide “a captive audience that can’t look away” for marketers. [2] Overall, integrating cat content into marketing strategies has proven an efficient way for brands to tap into the addictive appeal of cute kitties.


In summary, cat videos have become an internet phenomenon due to a combination of psychological factors that make them irresistible to many viewers. Their short length, relatability, and shareability have enabled them to spread widely across social media. While interest in cat videos may wax and wane over time, they have already cemented their place in internet culture and will likely continue entertaining people for years to come. Though seemingly trivial, these videos provide a source of escapism, stress relief, and simple joy for millions. As the internet expands globally, we can expect cats to continue captivating new audiences in every corner of the world.

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