Someone actually studied why we love cat videos

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 12:50 20/05/2014
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'I can haz moar viewers?'

Yes, puss, you can - as long as you keep ignoring your humans.

New research from Massey University has discovered why cat videos are more popular than, say, dog or baby videos: the latter are equally "cute", but comparably far less popular.

The answer, according to Massey University media studies lecturer Radha O'Meara, who viewed hundreds of cat videos online in conducting the research, is in the watching.

The hours of viewing provided O'Meara with a "rare insight" into the appeal of cat videos, which she said was driven by the cats' indifference to the camera.

People liked watching videos of animals who did not know, or seemed oblivious to the fact, they were being watched, O'Meara said.

"Cat videos are comparably much more popular and cats don't seem to acknowledge the camera at all and just do whatever they like, they are oblivious to it."

O'Meara said that a cat's indifference to being watched was rare in a consumer culture increasingly driven by surveillance.

"The cats' apparent uninhibited behaviour gives the viewer the illusion of voyeuristically catching a glimpse of a self-sufficient world.

"I think that's really appealing to audiences who are so used to being under the gaze of the camera these days."

Watching cat videos gave viewers dual pleasures, and allowed them to imagine a world without surveillance, while experiencing the power of using surveillance without causing problems for those being watched, she said.

"Ultimately cat videos enable viewers to carry out their own surveillance, and we do so with the gleeful abandon of a kitten jumping in a tissue box."

However, Dr O'Meara said this carelessness was an illusion for the viewer, who's online viewing was tracked and sold as consumer data.

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