My original intent for this blog post was to write a piece titled “How to feel safe in an unsafe world.” As I prepared to write a more serious post about navigating a dangerous world, I found myself wanting to look up viral cat videos.
Reflecting on my uncharacteristic desire to distract myself from my original planned content for this post, I wondered why cat videos are so dang popular to begin with.
It follows that this post is rather lighthearted and totally unfounded in any sort of research, yet I hope it still provides some valuable insights around our self-care and mental health.
I’ve brought up in prior blog posts the importance of taking a break from the news cycle to avoid burnout. It’s important to be attuned to our needs and know when our soul is saying, “I need a break.”
So let’s take a break together. I can return to that post idea another day.
Back to the topic at hand: why are cat videos so popular?
I’m sure someone has done some actual research on this question. Let me remind you this post is completely unfounded on whatever research is out there.
If I had to venture a guess in response to this question, I think there is something to the idea that cats are so closely related to their wild cousins, yet we pull them into our human world and pretend they are domesticated when they aren’t.
Lest any of you are concerned I’m beginning to sound anti-cat: I have a cat. His name is Johnny. He’s the best:
Eight years ago we adopted him after he was rescued as a feral kitten from the streets of San Diego.
He is definitely not domesticated. A more accurate description of him is that he’s a wild animal that we were crazy enough to permanently bring into our home.
Having observed him for some years now, I think part of the beauty of cat ownership is knowing there are only a certain amount of boundaries I’m able to enforce around him, and the rest is up to him to be his wild self.
What a bizarre thing that myself and so many other humans think it’s a good idea to have a cat when this is the arrangement we’re agreeing to.
Nonetheless, I think cats offer a gentle reminder that so much of life is out of our control, yet we must continue to still live with it. Some can choose to live in a state of misery, while others might choose to embrace it with joy.
So when we watch these viral cat videos, I think we may be connecting with the idea that much of our reality is wild, out of control, and difficult to understand, yet we carry on regardless. Humans and cats can learn to develop a symbiotic relationship, which acts as a reminder that we are capable of finding harmony with the wilder aspects of life.
Case in point: Johnny hopped on my lap just as I sat down to write this post and hasn’t moved. His primary goal in doing so is to have a warm place to rest on this chilly Norcal day. I could be bothered that he’s in the way (and he is in the way), but we’ve developed an unspoken agreement over the years that he can sit on my lap while I work as long as I can pet him from time to time and appreciate his purr.
So next time you find yourself watching a viral cat video, know you are engaging in a profoundly sacred act of self care. 😺
Johnny sends his disregards: