YouTube Should Reward The Internet Cat

YouTube Should Reward The Cat
YouTube Should Reward The Cat. Image: Wikimedia Commons file (modified) by me. Original authored by Boukeregnerus.
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.

YouTube has made lot of money in advertising from the internet cat. The most successful single genre of video is the cat video. The internet cat is a massive financial success for Google who own YouTube. But the internet cat is a failure..for the cat. Cats are the only stars of the internet but has it changed things for the better for the cat? Of course not. There is nothing to suggest that adoptions at cat shelters have gone up or cat abandonments have gone down because of the success of the internet cat. The predicament of the marginalized cat is exactly the same; perhaps even worse. The unwanted cats are still slaughtered in their millions every year while we laugh at Maru trying to get into another box for the 176 millionth time. While we laugh at Maru there is sorrow in the cat shelters.

The cat stars of the internet are about entertainment. It is using the domestic cat for that purpose. It is similar to the entertainment people obtain from stories about so called celebrities, who are not celebrities at all. The human race is becoming bored and desperate to be alleviated from it.

That is probably why the internet population is so captivated with William Braden’s creation Henri, the cat with a pile of angst and ennui. People who view the Henri videos have anthropomorphized him. Most of viewers are between the ages of 45 and 65. When William posted a joke on Henri’s Facebook page, Henri’s followers and fans complained that sophisticated Henri would never say something like that. They probably thought that Monsieur Henri would never demean himself by making such a coarse joke. His fans want to care for him. Mother him.

William now has an obligation to maintain that fiction. He has to feed that demand. It is ironic that William Braden is going to suffer from the same ennui as his fictional cat. Although Henri is a real cat his character is a fiction. Actually, you may know that Henri does not live with William.

There are a lot of cat based internet laughs. Marx said that religion was the opium of the masses. What he meant was that religion kept people quiet and accepting of their predicament. The internet cat is the modern opium of the masses.

It might be videos of cats that look like Hitler. These are images of cats with black markings on the face above their upper lip and below the nose. Funny I guess, if you are young! If you’re an old geezer it just seems to demean the cat. I know cats don’t know or care but I believe that demeaning the cat even in a humorous way undermines respect for the cat. The domestic cat needs more respect if we are to improve their welfare.

Simon’s Cat is a great internet success. There have been a total of 284 million views in the five years that Simon has been on the internet. Simon’s creator, Simon Tofield has a new career on the back of his creation. The videos are typical of the domestic cat’s character. There is no doubt that Simon understands the cat. I like the videos. I’d just like to see something returned to the cat. Why can’t the cat get a slice of the success?

Another massive cat internet story is Lil Bub. Lil Bub was an unwanted cat until Mike Brindavsky took her on. Despite suffering from several genetic mutations causing deformities such as a misshapen lower jaw leaving the mouth permanently open and her tongue sticking out, Lil Bub is very cute. But she is cute because she is deformed. Someone tell me that is OK to make a celebrity out of a deformed cat. I don’t want to be a killjoy because a lot of people get fun and support from Lil Bub but something about it sticks in my gullet.

What about the hundreds of thousands of cats that are put to sleep because they are deformed at birth? Or the shelter cats who are not pretty enough and unwanted? Has a deformity got to be cute before people are interested?

Let’s laugh at cat antics. Sure. Let’s enjoy the cat. There is nothing bad about the funny internet cat provided there is a payback. In equal measure let’s balance that by rewarding the cat for improving our lives. The first thing to do is to improve the basics and that starts with better cat caretaking through education. Why can’t YouTube put a short Adsense advert at the beginning of each funny cat video that gives a tip on cat caretaking? Now that would put a much bigger smile on my face than even the best funny cat video.

2 thoughts on “YouTube Should Reward The Internet Cat”

  1. Agreed 100% as long as the AdSense ad was in itself agreeable which is another question. It would probably be driven or controlled by lobbyists from companies like Hills who think their food is perfect for cat’s health.

    But I agree that humans get alot out of the objectification of the cat, and often to it’s expense. In other words we laugh at the cat, not with the cat, sadly. And that gets taken to the extreme, worse than man’s history of objectifying women. There isn’t empathy. I feel bad when I know a cat knows he or she is being ridiculed. They know when they are being laughed at, and not with. The overall point of this article is great though. If we gain so many cheap laughs at such great expense, then why shouldn’t the subjects of our cheapness get some kind of payback. That goes for anything really. Humans are opportunists and rarely altruistic in general so I guess it’s not possible. If we had to take into account the needs and feelings of who we are laughing at, in many cases we would no longer laugh at them.

    But, I often laugh at my cats, that I must say. I laugh because they do funny things. I never laugh at them if they are unhappy. I couldnt laugh at who was in danger or scared. Often people laugh at scared cats, like when they jump in fright from a loud noise for example. If it happened once by accident I’d maybe laugh if it wasnt heavy but I wont laugh at somebody’s joke of luring a cat near something like a blender and turning it on remotely, again and again (which I have seen), to see the cat run for his life each time. Not funny at all. But human sense of humour has so many sides to it and different people draw lines in different places. I wouldn’t laugh at a fat joke or a racist joke either. Some people would. What we see on youtube is the average, or mean, of the opinions, experiences and views of people close to or who are people that upload videos to the internet. There are people all over the world without youtube so we don’t know about them or their senses of humor. I’m not so sure I want to know.

    Purposefully stressing out a cat is not ok, nor is it in any way funny. That’s all there is to it. And that includes breeding them to look funny. Alot of the humor behind cat videos is directly related to morally questionable actions and that is the sad fact of it. There are also videos that are funny and not bad at all. It’s much harder to think of one of those ones though isn’t it.

    Michael is right though, just by putting a bit more care and awareness around the needs of cats is a start to paying them back for all the laughs. Just a start. And a perfect opportunity for it too. Minimum would be to advertise only cat related things on videos, like health products for cats, or simple things like cat trees or litter etc etc. All google videos seem to have ads now. There’s no end nor shame to the places you find ads. It’s like people are not ashamed to get into your private personal space so that they can wave their stupid product in it. It just makes people think they are shameless moneygrabbers. Or at least thats what I think when I close an ad that is obstructing my view of a movie. Actually I never even read the ad. What a bunch of **s holes. Seriously I kinda hate youtube. It’s often a fairly disgusting place, what with the comments and all. Its depressing to be on there for too long.

    • Great comment. You make good ones. I am pleased that you agree. What I am suggesting is that a company as huge as Google (value = $192 billion) has a responsibility that goes beyond making a profit and paying a dividend to shareholders. Google has a responsibility to society. Small tips on cat care before cat videos would be seen by hundreds of millions of people and reach a wide audience. And a lot of the people who watch cat videos frankly need a bit of education. Sorry to say that but I make that assessment based on the crass comments that many leave. I feel the private sector should start to deal with what is wrong with cat welfare. There is lots of good stuff but too much bad. Government won’t do a damn thing to help so it is down to the private sector.


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