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Johnson: Cat videos make purr-fect pastime

There’s so much possibility in the Internet, the form of communication that’s changed just about every part of our daily lives in recent decades.

Or is it paws-ibility?

While our online connection has enabled global communication and the sharing of knowledge in a matter of seconds, it seems its use as a research and information-sharing tool gets overpowered by humanity’s more low-brow obsession with cute animals.

Want to see a baby pig prance through grass? There’s a Vine for that. How about a baby elephant trying to play with a ribbon? Buzzfeed’s got it.

And one animal in particular has risen to the top, holding its spot with plenty of cat-titude as other memes and species come and go.

While felines have long been a popular pet, entertaining us with antics and curiosity for centuries, the furry little companions got their biggest break with the rise of smartphones capable of filming high-definition videos and sharing the clips within seconds.

As we get bombarded with nonstop selfies, filtered vacation photos and constant updates of every friend’s pregnancy or wedding planning, it’s become even more difficult to avoid seeing the frisky adorableness of cats on just about every social network and popular website.

Dogs are great, too, and certainly demand a great deal of online attention. But canines generally are loving creatures, ready to shower every person they encounter with unbridled affection and enthusiasm. Dogs are the embodiment of unconditional love, and we love our four-legged family members for that very reason.

Cats have taken a different approach to earning our affection – the cold shoulder, at best, or engaging in passive-aggressive behavior to intentionally bug us simple humans.

A dog will fall in love with a kind person as soon as a treat or even just some gentle petting is involved. Cats, not so much.

Felines can be grumpy, antisocial, even downright mean with humans they don’t like – and they’re not afraid to express some of those traits with their owners who feed, shelter and care for them.

Dog videos generally play out one way: Happy, excited dog sees/does something cute, then loves whatever person/animal/object it’s near.

Cat videos, meanwhile, are a bit harder to predict. That touching footage of a mother cat seemingly teaching her kitten to climb stairs takes a sharp detour when the mama shoves her little one down the steps, apparently just because she could. (The kitten was fine, by the way.)

The surveillance footage of a little boy being attacked by an aggressive dog became a viral clip because the hero was so unexpected – the family cat, which sprung into action and chased the much-larger dog away.

Cats are smart, capable creatures that don’t always do what they should, or what we’d even expect based on their past behavior. They’re complicated, cunning, sometimes cold, but always interesting.

And that’s the very reason why cat videos will resonate with a large online audience. Dog videos come and go, but cats are a furry embodiment of our own complicated, unexpected and sometimes cold behaviors as humans.

We can’t relate to the unconditional love of dogs, at least not usually. That’s just not how real life is for us.

But there’s something paws-itively relatable in watching a cat be a jerk, and then switch to a cuddly little furball that deserves our respect and warmth.

So at 7 p.m. Thursday, when a crowd gathers at the Fargo Theatre to watch the touring Internet Cat Video Festival presented by the Plains Art Museum, the laughs and groans will come from our shared understanding of what’s going on with these frisky felines.

Dogs might get our attention and love, but with all the similarities to their human owners, cats will rule the Internet hands down – or paws down.

If You Go

WHAT: Internet Cat Video Festival

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

tickets: Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for children., (701) 232-3821

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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