Print this story and post it on the boss's door: Science says watching cat videos isn't a waste of time, even when you're at work.
As it turns out, watching cat videos can actually give you more energy and chase away negative emotions, according to a new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional payoff may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward,” Jessica Gall Myrick, assistant professor at The Media School at Indiana University and author of the study, said in a news release.
So to help you take on a few tasks today, here are some cat videos:
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Myrick surveyed almost 7,000 people about their cat video viewing habits as well as how they felt before and after watching the clips.
“For most people, it improved their mood,” Myrick told Indiana Public Media. “Specifically, they reported after watching Internet cat videos that they felt more hopeful, more positive, more inspired and they also tended to feel less anxious, less angry -- we saw a decrease in negative emotions.”
On the other hand, it seems the videos are a form of procrastination -- or pro-cat-stination -- as most people watch when they're either at work or supposedly studying. They also report that the good feelings they get from watching the clips outweigh any guilt from watching them when they're supposed to be doing something else.
And as anyone who has disappeared into the YouTube wormhole can attest, most people don't actually seek out the videos. In three-quarters of all cases, viewers just happen upon them, which is not surprising when you consider how much online media, especially YouTube, is dominated by cat videos.
About 45 percent of YouTube users who publish original video post footage of a pet or other animal, with many of them posting cat videos, according to Pew Research. In 2014, there were 2 million cat videos on YouTube with nearly 26 billion views combined, making cat videos the single most popular category, according to background data released with the new study.
Some cats have even become Internet celebrities, like Lil Bub, whose owner helped distribute the survey via social media:
Despite the domination of cats on YouTube, it actually took a full month before the first-ever cat video appeared on the site when it launched in 2005. (For the record, it's this one, posted by co-founder Steve Chen.)
Of course, some may still say that cat videos are a waste of time, and studying people who watch cat videos is an even bigger waste.
Myrick begs to differ.
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick said in the news release. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore."
For the record, Myrick owns a pug, and posts videos of it online, but no cats.