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Welcome to the Internet – the land where cats reign supreme. Searching the term “cat” into Google returns over half a billion results.
Are you obsessed with viral videos of cats? It’s not your fault. Your own psychology is against you. Cats have won the web, but at least this article will help you understand why,
Cats Dominate the Internet
Reason 1: Evolutionary Manipulation from the Cat Empire
Ok, let’s get the obvious one out of the way: kitties are freaking cute. Does anyone disagree?
But WHY are they cute? Turns out, we think cats are adorable because our brains are literally wired to think that way. Brainwashing at its finest. It should come as a surprise to no one that kittens have the Cute Factor.
But, the Cute Factor is not a real thing?! Oh, but it is…according to science. Through visual signaling, certain things or objects have a set of features or behaviors that we deem to be heartbreakingly cute. Patterns include: big eyes, round face, a proportionally large head, a button nose, floppy limbs and clumsy movements.
But it’s not just endearing; it’s a crucial evolutionary response. Our ability to judge cuteness has contributed to the survival of our species. Consider babies. They are so pathetically helpless that they literally can’t do anything for themselves. Babies can’t even lift their heads when food is RIGHT in front of them.
Because our offspring are basically helpless, we are hardwired by evolution to respond instantly to all signs of infantile desire. Thus, we have the need to nurture anything even remotely babylike. Turns out, cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, yummy food or cocaine. What’s more, the bar for cute is so low that we think anything even slightly resembling a human baby is cute.
So don’t feel bad, we are biologically hardwired to love cats.
Now, if your response is “Aw, how adorable- kitties are just delightful fluffy bundles of love and rainbows.” You, my dear reader, have you been grossly misinformed. It’s time to get educated- keep reading.
Wait, cats don’t consciously take advantage of us, right?
Wrong, they are MASTER manipulators. These furry felines have been caught red-handed in their scheming acts. A scientific finding published in Current Biology revealed that cats vocally manipulate their owners by exploiting this deep, innate need to nurture.
With what is known as a “solicitation” purr, cats have perfected a calculated meow that has similarities to human baby’s cry. There is a specific frequency in this special purr that mirrors the sounds of a human infant. Through their subliminal messages, these evil geniuses fine-tune their meows and purrs to prompt owners to respond to them. Stimulating our biological instinct to nurture our offspring, the purr is used to convey, “freaking feed me” or “look at the bloody present I brought you.” As cat owners know, cats are deviously good at getting what they want, whether it’s a meal, some attention or your soul.
Reason 2: Cats Are Too Cool for the Game of Cat-and-Mouse
Cats take “playing hard to get” to a whole other level. The sad truth is that it’s their world and we just live in it. Seriously, have you ever tried to get a cat to do something? No amount of cooing, begging or screaming will get you anything more than an indifferent glance. Does this look familiar?
Can playing hard to get make you fall in love?
In psychology, it is known as The Scarcity Principle. People value and desire something more when it is difficult to obtain. This technique is frequently seen in marketing: “Only 3 left!” or “24-Hour Sale!”. As you may have experienced, this also applies in dating. Indeed, there is something attractive about the person who makes us work for his or her affection. In a study, women rated men who were uncertain about them to be more attractive than men who liked them a lot.
Scarcity increases our perception of something’s attractiveness or value. Because we do not like to be denied what we want, we react which makes us try harder and want what is denied even more.
Your cat’s expression of disdainful indifference reads loud and clear. We want their love, but affection only happens on THEIR terms, not ours. There is something to be said in having to work for their love. It is not freely given; it is earned. Their aloofness makes it hard to predict their behavior, so we try even harder. Is this fair? NO! But in the end, we are pathetically happy when our cat gives us a conciliatory nuzzle. Cats have us eating off the palm of their paws. Can you say “whipped”?
Reason 3: Kitties Are Classic Targets For Human Projection
After 7,000 years of human-feline cohabitation, cats have learned to efficiently get our attention through specific kinds of communication: including, but not limited to leaving smelly presents on the carpet, pawing at our noses, and yodeling nighttime lullabies. From living with us, house cats have developed new forms of social communication that far exceed their wild counterparts.
Still, we do not even come close to fully understanding all their seriously odd antics. In part, we find cats so fascinating because we see a fair bit of our own behaviors in their exploits. Cats have an exceptionally wide range of expressions to which we readily prescribe our own interpretations. Giving human characteristics to our kitties yield in hilarious results such as interpreted expressions of stern disapproval, embarrassment and playful coquettishness.
Why do we do this? We have a tendency to assign human emotions and motivations to other objects, concepts or species. We anthropomorphize these nonhuman entities by giving them human behaviors, such as jealousy, pride or curiosity. We do this because the entity then has agency and is worthy of moral consideration. Have you ever talked to your stuffed animal? Named your car?
Neuroscience research shows that anthropomorphism uses similar brain processes as those used for thinking about other people. We anthropomorphize cats so we can relate and begin to understand their thoughts. Honestly, we will never actually know the calculated scheming of these feline masterminds, but we can at least try.
Reason 4: Cats Are Unabashedly Weird
Cat videos go viral every day. One of the contributing factors of their viral fame is that felines unfailingly get themselves into hilariously weird situations. Humans capture a proportion of these moments on camera and BAM: endless viral material.
Cats are true weirdoes. Weirdoes are self-motivated and willing to go against common beliefs. True to form, cats do not worry about their social or conforming influence- that is, they don’t give a fluff what you think. Felines are innately curious and much of their funny exploits happen during the investigation phase. It’s pretty clear that they can’t help but chase the offensive red dot, investigate the mysterious bag or check out the suspiciously odd-shaped lump.
The Weird Enhances Creativity
A Not-So-Secret Fact: The Internet lives for weird. In fact, the weirder, the better. Due to the web’s anonymity, people are increasingly unfiltered as they are less worried about societal judgments. As it turns out, people are pretty strange.
Why do people seek out the strange? Weird experiences actually boost individual creativity. Scientists have found that diverse life experiences that push you outside your normal thought patterns can drastically increase your ingenuity. A critical trigger is the violation of how things should be (aka different perspectives), which the Internet is full of. Cats are weird. We love weird.
Reason 5: Cat People Unite Online
Users, like YOU, determine the content of the Internet. Online content goes viral when people share with their network. Your friends then share with their friends and so forth. BAM-Internet Fame! Now, we all know that cats are the most viral things on the Internet.
Why? Well, it’s likely that there are more cat people than dog people online. Psychology studies have found that cat people are more introverted, sensitive and non-conformist than canine lovers. These are traits that many Internet users relate to. Dog owners self-select in the population that likes to be outside, socializing and talking to others. That means time outside that could be spent online! The study also found that dog lovers are more energetic, lively and respect rules. With 4chan, Anonymous and forum trolls, the Internet is full of users who relish pushing status quo.
Social Media Gurus and Their Cats
Now, let’s also address the first movers: these are people who are at the forefront of technology and up-to-date on the best artists, gadgets and memes. Naturally, cats make for more favorable pets than dogs for independent people on the move. The Internet is so populated by online cat people that it’s no surprise that kitties rein supreme.
With the Internet under their belts, cats are just one step closer to world domination…
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