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Watching Cat Videos Serves Useful Purpose, Research Finds

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

People who follow what's popular on the Internet are aware of this bedrock truth. If you want lots of others to share what you post, include an image of a cat.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now we have scientific evidence that people may not be wrong to spend so much time looking at cats.

(SOUNDBITE OF CATS MEOWING)

JESSICA MYRICK: People reported that they experienced a lot more positive emotions and even had more energy after watching cat videos.

INSKEEP: Jessica Myrick of Indiana University surveyed nearly 7,000 people about their cat watching habits.

(SOUNDBITE OF CATS MEOWING)

MONTAGNE: Most people weren't actively seeking cat videos but stumbled across them.

MYRICK: They also were sometimes using it to procrastinate more important activities, like work or school. But the interesting thing was even if you were procrastinating, you might feel a little guilty after that. But the happiness that that video brought you could still turn it into an enjoyable media experience.

INSKEEP: Maybe this was an important activity then because people reported their mood improved.

MYRICK: It's just part of our daily media diet now. And it's very different than some of the other parts of our daily media diet. So if you have a social media feed that has a cute cat video alongside news about political bickering, cats are sort of this positive emotional outlet we have.

INSKEEP: Not only that - for some people, a cat video may be better than an actual cat.

MYRICK: I am allergic to cats, so I do not own a cat. I own a very cute pug dog, and I probably spend more time online looking at pug pictures than cats.

MONTAGNE: So take that, you cats. But you did hear it right, a dog person who speaks to the emotional benefits of felines. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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