Fierce yet cuddly, aloof yet affectionate, domestic cats have undoubtedly won the hearts of many humans worldwide. In 2017, the number of cats living with humans in the United States outweighed the number of dogs by a staggering 4 million, and it is estimated that some 600 million cats live with a human caretaker worldwide. What is the reason between this bond between human and cat? Science may have a few answers.
According to University of Alberta professor Connie Varnhagen, humans have evolved to have a soft spot for small, round faces, perhaps due to a child-rearing instinct. No wonder that cats, with their small faces and big round eyes, have won us over. Our love for cats may also have to do with their reactions to our affection, according to John Amodeo, Ph. D. “They really know how to let us in!", says the author.
Perhaps human-feline partnerships are such a big part of our culture for historical reasons, too. It is common knowledge that in ancient Egypt, cats were held in high respect, and deities such as Bastet were depicted with feline features. Years later, despite this tradition slowly being phased out, humans continued keeping cats as pets for pest control reasons. (Author's note: and maybe since they found them absolutely adorable?)
Fast forward to today: with the advent of the Internet and social networks, cats have invaded news feeds, advertisements, and much more. How could we explain cats’ popularity in modern culture? According to Ian Forrester from Unruly Media, cited by Macleod, cats appeal to our emotions by evoking “warmth and hilarity, sometimes both”. It all comes down to our caring instinct and need for entertainment, one could say.
While sharing cat memes may be completely harmless, VGRRR reminds the Internet community to always put compassion first. We must speak up against "funny" cat videos in which owners make fun of their cats falling and perhaps getting injured or panting loudly and making other unusual noises (a sign of ill health), for instance.
What do you think about cats in popular culture? Have you petted your feline friend today?
 Eatherington, Carla. “Feline Cognition”.
 "Why do we love cats so much? It comes down to science, professor says". CBC News, Aug 16, 2016.
 Macleod, Ishbel. “A purr-fect way to go viral? A look at why cat memes are so popular”. The Drum, Nov 28 2014.