Feeling Down? Goofy Cat Videos to the Rescue
I have spent much of the last two months in a blur, slumped on the couch with my head on Brody’s chest, staring at the ceiling. Stressful times will do that to a person. Though I’m just starting to recalibrate the rhythms of life without one of its key players, I’ve been fortunate enough to have family and pets who are constant and stalwart. Those fortunate enough to be owned by a pet know how that goes.
I’ve always felt badly for people who want a pet but for various reasons are unable to have one: perhaps they are allergic, or their spouse has asthma. Maybe they work long hours with lots of travel and are unable to take on the commitment of a day to day pet. I have a lot of respect for people who realize it’s not fair to an animal to take them in when they know it probably won’t work out long term, but I just can’t imagine my life without animals (plural) in it.
Those animal lovers who can’t own one, make do. Perhaps they visit friends with pets, or volunteer at the local shelter. The upswing of cat cafes around the country have made it easy to drop in and get a cat fix with your cappuccino, no litter box cleaning required. Hey, it’s better than nothing, right?
The effect of intermittent animal interaction is even more pronounced than most of us realized. Heck, it looks like we might not even need to be in the physical presence of an animal to benefit from his or her aura. According to a 7,000 person study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, people who watch cat videos report more positive emotions and energy after taking part, and improved mood.
Now I knew that cats and the internet were a big deal, as the record shattering crowds at the inaugural CatCon have proven, but I didn’t realize just how universal an act it was to seek solitude in the glittery bowels of the internet known as crazy cat videos. It starts innocently enough, a short video of a cat smacking a dog on the head set to Lady Gaga music that someone sent to you on Facebook. Then at the end of the video, YouTube serves up a video of cats who look like Game of Thrones characters. Two hours and countless videos later, you realize you haven’t done a single load of laundry and the kids had to eat popcorn for dinner, but at least everyone’s happy.
I don’t recommend shirking your daily obligations in the pursuit of addictive pet video viewing behavior, but a little boost here and there seems to be a pretty safe and effective way to get a little lift at the end of a long day. When my family was at our lowest a few weeks ago, my sister pulled up a video of a Cockatiel doing a spot-on imitation of a couple arguing, complete with dirty words, and we laughed so hard we lost track of where the laughing ended and the crying began. Sure beats a lot of other more destructive coping mechanisms, right?
So our favorite internet procrastination activity (that you’ll admit to, anyway) is now backed by science: Had a rough day? Kick back, take a deep breath, and google “goofy cat videos.” You’re welcome.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
Image: S.P. / Shutterstock