Why cats are our favourite animal on the internet

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle

If you spend more time online than in real life you’d be forgiven for thinking cats and their progeny have taken over the world.

[ Related story: Baby's hysterical laughter goes viral]

Sensible news sites ramp up their ratings with cuddling kitten clips and supposed grown-ups spend hours poring over LOLcats and commenting on YouTube star Maru’s latest adventures in cardboard.

But why is it that cute animals, and in particular cats, trigger such obsession?

One theory is that we react on a biological level to any baby, be it human or animal. This reaction encourages the nurturing element of our nature, encouraging us to look after very young babies. And it seems that cats are the member of the animal kingdom to tap into this nurturing impulse most successfully. With their big eyes, small noses and round heads, cats have all the traits that we are drawn to in our own young.

Emily and Ben Huh, who run I Can Haz Cheeseburger?, home of LOLcats, think that the internet simply provided the perfect outlet for cat lovers, that isn’t available elsewhere.

"Cats are the perfect storm for popularity on the web,” explains Ben. “There are tens of millions of cats in the US, making it the most popular domestic animal.

"Dog owners can socialise by walking their dogs. Cat owners are a more hidden bunch and there is very little owner-to-owner socialisation, so they turned to the Web," Ben adds.

Or could it just be simpler than that? Maybe it’s just that little kitties make a heartwarming five minute break from work…