It all started with Grumpy Cat (Tardar Sauce to give the four-year-old cat her proper name). The brother of her owner posted a picture on Reddit in 2012 which went viral, thanks to a form of feline dwarfism which causes Tardar to look, well, grumpy. Cue Grumpy Cat’s massive social feeds, her own agent and manager, plus a host of TV appearances, and the internet’s love of cats went crazy.
Now, images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content online, with over 2 million cat videos on YouTube alone, and cats are one of the most searched keywords on the internet. CNN estimated that in 2015 there could be around 6.5 billion cat pictures on the internet. Since Grumpy Cat we’ve had many others including Lil Bub, Honey Bee the Blind hiking Cat and Cole & Marmalade, two rescued kittens who became YouTube celebrities.
It’s a trend which hasn’t gone unnoticed by the media and by brands. After the appearance of Grumpy Cat we started to notice more and more cats creeping into commercials. Take Three’s Singing Kitty ad, and Cravendale’s #CatswithThumbs campaign. And it’s not stopping. Last year saw the ridiculously popular Cat Café launch in East London, and Glimpse’s recent Citizen’s Advertising Takeover Service (C.A.T.S) which saw every ad space in Clapham Common tube station taken over with pictures of moggies. And just this week saw the announcement of CatNip – London’s first ever festival that is focused solely around videos of cats, coming to the city this winter.
So why all this popularity for the humble feline? Well as a cat owner I am probably bias, but they are beautiful and intriguing creatures which make for great video and pictures content. Not only are they cute and furry, but unlike dogs they are graceful, proud princely showoffs, and have the funniest habits. Cue funny sleeping positions, cats being given baths, or playing with everyday objects and you get an online explosion. For years brands have used dogs in their advertising and marketing, and now it’s the turn of the feline. And, in my (slightly crazy cat lady opinion) long may their rule continue.