Written by : Jim Gold 

Cat Videos Help Us Lick the Blues

And you thought your coworkers were just being silly and wasting time. Turns out they were instilling positive emotions throughout the office! Yes, an Indiana University researcher has discovered that watching cat videos is actually good for us. (Sigh, make joke about academia here.)

Cat video viewing is more than a procrastinator's tool, says assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick, Ph.D. They boost our energy and positive emotions and decrease negative feelings, she said after surveying the moods of almost 7,000 cat video viewers. Her study results were published in Computers in Human Behavior.

One internet feline phenomenon, Lil Bub, even helped with the research. Bub's owner, this is, Mike Bridavsky, who lives in Bloomington, home of Indiana University, helped distributed the survey via social media.

"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today," Jessica told IU's news agency about why she chose the topic.

More than 2 million cat videos were posted on YouTube in 2014, she says. With almost 26 billion views, cat videos had more views per video than any other YouTube content category.

Among study highlights of cat video viewers:

  • They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They often view Internet cats at work or during studying
  • The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.

"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," says Jessica, who owns a pug but no cats.

So, if you've got something important to do now, wait and watch a cat video first. You may feel better for it afterward. Your work will still be there. 

Important research, or, um, an epic waste of time. You can be the judge.

Jim Gold is a veteran journalist who splits his time between Seattle and the Bay Area.

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