The Internet Cat Industrial Complex

The title is a quote by Ben Huh, founder and CEO of the cat media company Cheezburger. He says:

“I think what we see here is the rise of the Internet cat industrial complex,” he says. “I go to a meeting or a conference, and all of a sudden people are, you know, I’ve got iPhones in my face filled with cat photos and, you know, it’s not like I can make it happen.”

There is a new book out which is all over the bookshops, which is called “How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom“. Financial freedom? This book makes it sound easy and it is not.

How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity A Guide to Financial Freedom

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

I’m not completely sure what the Ben Huh quote means. I’ll use common sense. He seems to be saying that the Internet cat is becoming an industry, a profitable business all on its own. The domestic cat has been hijacked by the human as a revenue stream. For millennia the domestic  cat minded his own business. He was just there, a companion to the human. All of a sudden, people started to see the funny side of the domestic cat on the Internet. This spawned funny cat videos and funny cat images and then we progressed to celebrity cats and now we have gone one step further, we have “the Internet cat industrial complex”. The domestic cat is a full-blown industry. And it is all Internet-based, really, although you will see hardcopy books for sale as well like the one I referred to above.

Now, I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. My gut feeling is that this is not particularly good for the domestic cat but it is obviously good for people because what makes money for people is good for people.

I didn’t believe that it would come to this; the celebrity cat evolving into an industry. I wonder where it will stop. Not every cat can be a celebrity cat, anyway. To be a celebrity cat, he or she usually has to do have a substantial anatomical defect which makes the face look interesting and a bit strange. If the cat does not have a physical, perhaps congenital defect, then he or she has to do have an incredibly cute habit such as jumping into boxes of all sizes and shapes. Most cats like to do that but some cats like it more than others and the Japanese cat Maru is the king of the box-loving domestic cats. The other celebrity cats are really CGI versions, fictional.

As I said, I think that the Internet Industrial complex is a hijacking of the domestic cat as a means to make money. I don’t know how it really came about. I have a feeling, though, that it might be going too far because if people write books that encourage other people to try and make money from their cat and the book itself as a means of making money, it seems to me that we are going too far.

Some people may get the wrong idea, that they can create a celebrity cat out of an ordinary domestic cat. I don’t think you can because the competition is fierce. The Internet cat industrial complex is a highly competitive field of economic endeavor. Not only must the cat have something very different and special about him, the cat’s owner has to be entrepreneurial, competitive, ambitious, cutthroat and have plenty of stamina.

This is the entertainment business and we know that in the entertainment business only about half a percent of people in it make money out of it. If there’s one successful celebrity cat, there are hundreds of thousands of failures (thank God).

I don’t think we want to encourage people to push their cat onto the celebrity cat stage. This new book may encourage the wrong people and it may encourage people to put their cat through experiences which are not good for their cat in a desperate attempt to achieve success. Success for who?

Personally, I would like to see a greater focus on cat welfare before people start making money out of the domestic cat. The former should take place before the latter and then we can say we have done the ethically right thing, if it is ever ethically correct to make money out of one’s cat.

29 thoughts on “The Internet Cat Industrial Complex”

  1. Photographed this cat in Kalimpong, a hill statio in the state of W.Bengal which has cool climate throughout the year.This cat definitely doesn’t look like the average street cat.It had come onto this sand mound for its regular toilet duties.Cats whether celebrity or stray are cute as this cat definitely is.Ultimately i feel its a certain freakish look or habits that makes a cat a ‘Internet Celebrity” besides a “Entrepreneurial showbiz type owner”.

    • I completely agree with you Rudolph about what makes a celebrity cat: a freaky cat and an ambitious person!

      You’ve taken a nice picture of a West Bengal cat. I absolutely love to see domestic cats from far-flung places and West Bengal is one of those places. I like the way he’s using old-fashioned sand as a cat litter. This is the way it used to be in the West before somebody, and I forget who at the moment, invented the commercial product.

      Well, this cat is a ginger tabby with a bit of white and he does have a little bit of an air of wild about him. I would love to meet in and see what he was like. Thanks for posting this comment

      I enjoyed watching some of your videos by the way on Google Plus. Interesting. You visit some really interesting places which are very different where I live.

  2. I think like everything it must be both good and bad.

    For the good to advance – it seems – bad must advance as well. However the more that good advances the more it will be considered by more people that it really is bad to be bad – so the pressure will be on the bad to stop it.

    In other words – time works in favour of good, and in the short term for bad as well – but in the long term it’s a losig game for the bad.

    If that makes sense I’ll be damned – but I think it does.

    • I agree, wholeheartedly. Here, here. Basically, what you are saying, is that the good will outweigh the evil. nicht wahr? <3

    • Interesting comment. My understanding at least This from my perspective is that as people become more civilised, knowledgeable and aware (and we have to believe that we are becoming more civilised over hundreds and thousands of years) we can expect there to be more harmony and more wisdom and therefore less bad.

  3. Michael, why am I getting catheter ads on this page? I have never EVER asked google+ to embellish my current page w/such nonsense!
    [oh. april fool’s day is over, isn’t it. sorry my bad 🙁 I wish these ads would go away…i am not ready for a cathater…]

    • I get coconut oil and protein powder on mine. I told Laura I’m glad I don’t visit sex toy sites. I’m into oil pulling since it cured my cough.

      • Elisa, for shame. What would your cats think, if you started giving THEM the same treatment. really, grrl. <3 "oil-pulling?" ok, I'll google it. 🙂 I'm thinking that we should inundate google… all together now!

          • Well, this is something that has me wondering now. I really was just joshing, but now I’m thinking that this is something that I must look in to, for Shrimptaro. His cough has not gone away and it is not due to hairballs, nor his heart. I’ve always known that he has respiratory problems, and have tried to do everything that I can to alleviate stressors. I will discuss this with my vet research and Dr. Becky after I research it more fully. wow. That is amazing, Elisa. I am pleased to hear that you found a straightforward solution!

            • You have to swish and spit the oil. The saliva under the tongue draws out toxins and you don’t swallow any of it. Its not for the cat 🙂

              • Sorry, that was wishful thinking, wasn’t it. sigh. If only he could tell me what he is thinking. He often winks at me as though he understands fully, but then, it is me, again, not understanding. Okay, Elisa! I will figure out a way to get him to spit. watch me… 😉

    • Your comment made me laugh but was it meant to? What do you mean by getting catheter adds on this page? Oh, I realise now that the adverts you are seeing are for catheters. Well, some computer software somewhere at Google decided that you are in need of a catheter!! Or, you have been searching for catheters 😉

  4. I’m an internet sensation Godfather Michael. I’m quite well-known for my sweet Southern disposition and innocent expressions. Teeheehee…


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