Science Says There’s a Real Benefit to Watching Funny Cat Videos

A new study shows this Internet phenomenon is much more than a time suck. 

funny-cat
Photo by Getty Images/Volanthevist

Whether your personal favorite is the OMG Cat, Lil Bub, or Grumpy Cat, new research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests watching those funny felines might increase positive feelings, boost energy, and decrease negative feelings.

More than 2 million cat videos—with almost 26 billion combined views—were posted on YouTube in 2014. So study author Jessica Gall Myrick, an Indiana University Media School researcher and assistant professor, set out to see if the cat craze has any real benefits… or if it’s just a colossal waste of time.

Nearly 7,000 people were surveyed about viewing cat videos and how it affects their moods. The results may surprise you: Most people reported feeling less anxious, sad, and annoyed after viewing cat videos—even at work.

"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward," Myrick said in a statement.

The news might make you feel better about your own procrastination habits, but Myrick says the study could have larger implications: “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.” The positive benefits suggest there may be reason to explore how online cat videos could serve as a form of low-cost pet therapy, she said.