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Watching Cat Videos Serves Useful Purpose, Research Finds


People who follow what's popular on the Internet are aware of this bedrock truth. If you want lots of others to share what you post, include an image of a cat.


Now we have scientific evidence that people may not be wrong to spend so much time looking at cats.


JESSICA MYRICK: People reported that they experienced a lot more positive emotions and even had more energy after watching cat videos.

INSKEEP: Jessica Myrick of Indiana University surveyed nearly 7,000 people about their cat watching habits.


MONTAGNE: Most people weren't actively seeking cat videos but stumbled across them.

MYRICK: They also were sometimes using it to procrastinate more important activities, like work or school. But the interesting thing was even if you were procrastinating, you might feel a little guilty after that. But the happiness that that video brought you could still turn it into an enjoyable media experience.

INSKEEP: Maybe this was an important activity then because people reported their mood improved.

MYRICK: It's just part of our daily media diet now. And it's very different than some of the other parts of our daily media diet. So if you have a social media feed that has a cute cat video alongside news about political bickering, cats are sort of this positive emotional outlet we have.

INSKEEP: Not only that - for some people, a cat video may be better than an actual cat.

MYRICK: I am allergic to cats, so I do not own a cat. I own a very cute pug dog, and I probably spend more time online looking at pug pictures than cats.

MONTAGNE: So take that, you cats. But you did hear it right, a dog person who speaks to the emotional benefits of felines. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.