Watching cat videos on the internet can not only entertain you, it may also boost your energy and positive emotions while reducing negative feelings, a new study has found.
Researchers from Indiana University Media School surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods.
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” said assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick.
“If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore,” Myrick said.
Internet data show there were more than 2 million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, with almost 26 billion views. Cat videos had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
In Myrick’s study, the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Of the participants in the study, about 36 per cent described themselves as a “cat person,” while about 60 per cent said they liked both cats and dogs.
Participants in the study reported that they were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
The participants often viewed Internet cats at work or during studying. The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos.
About 25 per cent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon.
Overall, the response to watching cat videos was largely positive.
“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 afterward,” Myrick said.
The results also suggest that future work could explore how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy, she said.