I am a pre-homo sapien hunter, fearing for my life as I am chased by a sabre-toothed cat through the forest. I am a pillaging viking, praying to the goddess Freyja and her chariot pulled by cats. I am a medieval monk and the monastery’s mouser walks over the parchment of the biblical text I am illustrating. I am a gen-z girl coming home from a long day of work and pick up my fat ginger cat, nuzzling into his fur.
A light post for this week, because the world is dark enough already. I scroll through my TikTok page and rejoice, for it is monday. Monday means Gandalf gets to lick a Graham cracker. It is her favorite activity. User @indooroutdoorkat on TikTok has 1.2 million followers and 67.3m accumulated views, the majority coming from her cat Gandalf. Every Monday Kat Newquist uploads a video of her cat Gandalf licking a cracker. One of these videos has a whopping 11 million views.
Cats do not need to be immortalized, the Egyptians have done that for us in their hieroglyphs and their Goddess Bastet, and that is precisely why we need to ask why cat content brings us such joy.
Note: if you don’t like cats, that’s fair, but don’t keep reading this post
Cats have always done better in the media, despite being just as loveable as dogs. We see the success Garfield comics has had, the intensely popular Grumpy cat meme, how cats do as halloween costumes, musicals, books…
The first and most obvious reason is that most people simply love cats. As illustrated before, cats have been with us for millenia. Cats are adorable and funny, and it would make sense that we want to curate our online experience to content we enjoy. When I first downloaded TikTok in 2020, the first video I uploaded was one of my late cat. The first tag I looked up was #cats. And as much as it pains me to say this, I am not unique. Cat content dominates the internet.
Besides the fact that cats are incredibly adorable and entertaining, cats are easily anthropomorphised. When I compare my slobbering, barking, adorable but absolutely stupid dog to my cat sitting beside me and quietly grooming himself, the contrast is obvious. We can take those expressions of cats and anthropomorphize them into the cat being grumpy. The cat is no smarter than the slobbering dog, but the entire vibe of the two creatures is different. My dog looks at me and starts twirling around, barking to play. My cat looks at me, almost judgemental, and I ask him what? don’t like my outfit?
My cat walks off. Rude.
This blank canvas allows for comedic fill-in, such as Jim Davis did with his Garfield comics. It’s why cats allow for easier memes, captionable videos and comedy all while remaining cute. I read an excellent book called the Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, told from the perspective of a cat. Cats’ introverted nature allows humans to fill in and interpret their emotions even in literature. It also interpreted the emotions of dogs the cat and its owner encountered. Interestingly, the cats spoke in dignified sentences as they gracefully reposed on the windowsill. The dogs were loud, less coherent and vastly different characters. Excellent book, by the way!
So, rejoice! For in all the changes society has gone through, cats remain on top. Years of evolution mean Gandalf gets to lick a Graham cracker and all us TikTok users get to enjoy this too. I hope to share my joy with you. Also, this is a picture of my cat. His name is Freddie, named after Freddie Mercury. Note that he sits on the chair while my dog is on the ground, despite being more-than-capable of also jumping on the chair.
I am too tired to do any sort of hyperlinking. please enjoy this beautiful list: