…[I]n the past few years, cats have stopped being simply pets and become a phenomenon. In a weird act of convergent techno-evolution, the metamorphosis of cats into cultural icons is powered by – and in turn powers – the growth of the internet.
“The prevalence and popularity of cats on the internet is due to the wide variety of ideas and feelings associated with them – cats are very versatile signifiers,” explained Dr Radha O’Meara, lecturer in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and author of a recent study titled Do Cats Know They Rule YouTube: surveillance and the pleasures of cat videos.
“Cats are common throughout much of the world, so they can be readily accessed as subjects to be recorded with little regard for geography, culture, language and class. When people engage with cats, it is not necessarily dependent on language. Much of the internet is segregated by language, but cats can transcend this.”
…Indeed, as many have noted, the internet is made of cats. The cute colonisation of the web is closely linked to the advent of social media. The earliest known cat clip, CatBread by Hirose Takuro, cropped up in 2002, two years before the launch of Facebook. After that, proliferation was exponential…