The “Arrogant Cat” video has gotten 6,472,696 views on YouTube in the 12 days since it was posted on July 2. Why has 56 seconds of a woman doing a handstand and then a cat blocking the camera gone viral?
This video is not going to amaze you. It isn’t teaching us how to do a handstand or how to care for a cat or how to record video on our smart phone. It doesn’t offer any practical value, whatsoever…unless you happen to really be into taping yourself doing yoga and you have a cat and hadn’t considered the possibility of said cat blocking the view of your mad yoga moves.
Yes, I said, “mad” yoga moves. I was born in the 60’s and even I saw this video posted by several different people on Facebook until I finally gave in and watched it. My reaction? I was quite amused by the seemingly smug cat, who was really doing nothing but being a regular ol’ cat. I have some theories on why so many of my friends posted this video and why over 6 million people have watched it.
1. It makes you smile, and who doesn’t want to share something that will make their friends smile? It’s a form of social currency. When we share this video we are saying that we are light-hearted animal lovers who can probably laugh at themselves. “And by the way…if your day is only going so-so or worse, I hope this little cat video that I thoughtfully sent you will put a smile on your face.”
2. The video has two significant triggers: Yoga and cats. Yoga is becoming more and more popular. A 2012 study said that 8.7%, or 20.4 million people, in the US practice yoga. Another 44.4% call themselves “aspirational yogis.” (Source) So, a lot of people are doing yoga at studios and at home, too. With 30-37% of American households having a cat living with them (Source), there are plenty of people who might mention it or pass it on just because they have a cat or know someone who has a cat.
3. The internet is crazy for cats. Cats in boxes, cats playing the piano, cats doing anything! In an article for TechHive, Elizabeth Fish explores the reasons why social media is ruled by cats. Her main points are that because cat owners don’t meet on the streets like dog owners, they are more likely to make connections via the internet. Also, cats are very easy to personify, so we get the feeling that we can relate to them or they are like someone we know. She sums it up with “The Internet’s love for cats …could simply be because cats are cute… there is something about a cat and its facial expressions that makes you go gooey inside.”
Chris Torres, creator of Nyan Cat, an extremely popular animated cat video that became the 5th most viewed YouTube video of 2011, has a theory on why cats are so popular online. “It’s a clear fact that the Internet is made of cats.” (Source)
I’m beginning to think he might be right.