Watching online videos of cats can help to reduce stress and increase happiness, a new study has found. The study, published in Computers in Human Behaviour, consisted of a ten-minute questionnaire, which was shared on Facebook. Participants were asked a few questions to see how their pets affected their moods and how they felt after viewing cat videos on the internet.
Cats are currently one of the most popular internet topics, with two million videos posted on YouTube last year and attracting over 25 billion views. Cats such as Lil BUB and Grumpy Cat have quickly become celebrities thanks to their unique appearance and have millions of followers on social media websites.
It was this trend that prompted Jessica Gall Myrick from Indiana University Media School to carry out the study and find out just why it is that cats attract so many viewers and followers online.
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is it’s one of the most popular uses of the internet today,” she said.
“If we want to better understand the effects the internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then research can’t ignore internet cats anymore.”
The assistant professor’s questionnaire method was shared on Lil BUB’s social media page, which led to it being completed by nearly 7,000 people.
UNSW psychology lecturer Lisa Williams said that the research was “very clever.”
“It’s very clever research, I think that the researcher is using some well-known theories to back up why she’s investigating the emotional outcomes of watching cat videos.”
Research showed that viewing online cat videos can be a form of digital pet therapy and found that it is mostly “shy and agreeable” people that look at cat-related content online.
Professor Myrick also explored how watching cat videos links feelings of guilt, enjoyment, happiness and procrastination.
“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 afterwards,” she said.