I think this is a very important topic because the influence of the internet is growing rapidily. Here are my pros and cons. Can you add yours?
Internet Good For Domestic Cats
Social media can be excellent because it can spread the word about cat rescue and cats that need homes. There are many cat rescue webpages on Facebook that do good work. The Paw Project uses FB to spread their word too. They are very important. This site has an FB presence (2 pages).
PoC would not exist but for the internet! (blowing our trumpet)
There are many webpages on cat health and some of these pages can be useful to a cat owner because they inform the cat owner about an important part of cat caretaking. However, cat owners should not substitute reading about cat health on the Internet for taking their cat to the vet. Neither should they take everything they read as gospel truth. Webpage can confuse and mislead sometimes.
There are many webpages on the Internet about cat behaviour, cat products etc. many, of which, are very useful provided the reader uses the information wisely.
Petitions are a new phenomenon. There are many petitions about cats on the Internet. They can do good. They can achieve results albeit quite rarely.
Another new phenomenon on the Internet is crowd funding. This is when a person sets out, on a webpage, a product that they have invented/created. They seek funding from visitors to develop and market it. If the product is a good one and it relates to the domestic cat then this should be a good for the cat.
The better cat owners are those who lead simple, uncomplicated lives. The internet works against that.
Internet Bad for Domestic Cats
Indirectly, the Internet may be bad for the cat because it speeds up life for the cat’s owner. Everything is so much faster and more complicated these days because communication is faster via the Internet and it creates new complexities. When life is speeded up and more complicated it can become more stressful for the human companion/caretaker. When a person is stressed at home, indirectly, it is not good for the domestic cat who shares the home.
In addition, some cat owners will spend more time on the Internet and less time with their cat – at least potentially.
There are many webpages containing information about cat health. Cat owners search these webpages. They do this sometimes to avoid taking their cat to a veterinarian. This is not good for the cat.
Some Internet information about cat behaviour is incorrect and misleading. For example, the topic of cat punishment or negative reinforcement during cat training. I consider articles about negative reinforcement to be bad advice.
People who dislike cats are often given free access to write articles which are published on the Internet. Often these articles mislead the public by portraying the domestic cat in a bad light. Sometimes respected people or so-called experts have advocated killing cats. This is irresponsible behaviour because it can encourage disturbed people to kill cats.
YouTube is truly a massive organisation with hundreds of millions of videos. The Internet phenomenon of funny cat videos and many other videos to do with the domestic cat designed to be amusing can sometimes, in my view, work against the welfare of the domestic cat because the videos tend to disrespect and trivialise the domestic cat. The comments under the videos by visitors supports this. The comments are often crass and stupid, written by ignorant people, some of them cat haters. I don’t think this furthers domestic cat welfare. These videos don’t educate people; they entertain people which is fair enough but they tend to use the cat for entertainment. I like some of them but there is a need to educate people about cat welfare and there is a need for more people to respect the cat more often.
On balance, I suspect that the funny cat video on YouTube is not good for the domestic cat.
The new phenomenon of celebrity cats is created, fed and publicised through the internet. You rarely see celebrity cats in hard copies of newspapers (certainly in the UK). Cat celebrity and using the domestic cat as a commercial asset is an internet phenomenon. Although sometimes it can work for the domestic cat, in general, I don’t like it because at the end of the day it is not good for cat welfare. It is using the cat as a vehicle to make money for the cat’s owner and other third parties (businesses). The celebrity cat owners always find ways to justify it and assuage the criticisms but what they state does not wash for me.