Looking at cats really does make people happier – boosting their energy and positive emotions and decreasing any negative feelings, scientists have discovered.
Jessica Gall Myrick from Indiana University Media School surveyed nearly 7,000 people about how watching videos of cats makes them feel.
Her study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, looked at several aspects of cat gazing – does viewing cat videos on the internet have the same effect as pet therapy? Or do viewers actually feel worse because they are procrastinating?
Myrick explained: "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. 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.
"We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us. As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon."
In 2014, over two million cat videos were posted on YouTube – gaining almost 26 billion views and having more views per video than any other category on the site.
Her survey was shared around by Mike Bridavsky, the owner of internet star Lil Bub. Of those surveyed, 36% described themselves as cat people. Around 60% said they liked both cats and dogs.
Findings showed watching cat videos makes people feel more energetic and positive. They had fewer negative emotions – including anxiety, annoyance and sadness – and the pleasure begot from watching cats negated any negative feelings about procrastinating (often viewers watched cat videos at work).
Cat owners who are agreeable and shy are more likely to watch cat videos. Around a quarter of videos were actively sought out, while the remainder were watched by chance.
"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.
To celebrate this landmark study, here are some cat videos to watch.