Cats on the Internet

Why are cats so popular on the internet? Spotlight looks at some reasons.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Joshua Leo.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Maru is a popular international star. He lives in Japan. But people all over the world know him. Every day, millions of people watch his short films, or videos, on the internet. They watch Maru play. They watch him explore his environment. They watch as he discovers new things. But there is something about Maru that may surprise you. He is a cat.

Voice 2

If you have ever used the internet, you may have noticed that there are a lot of cats. Other people have noticed this too. In fact, experts have even studied it! People love sharing pictures and videos of their cats. And people love seeing and watching them too! But why is that? Today’s Spotlight is on cats on the internet.

Voice 1 

Cats have been interesting to people for a long time. In many different cultures, people believed cats were full of mystery. In ancient stories from Egypt and Greece, goddesses took the form of cats. Later, in other parts of Europe, cats began to represent something else. Some people said that cats represented the devil. But cats also lived with people as pets. Today, cats are a very popular pet. In fact, Scientific American magazine says there are more than 600 million cats living with humans worldwide.

Voice 2 

But how did cats go from pets to internet stars? As early as 1870, people took pictures of their cats. The old pictures show cats doing normal things. Sometimes the pictures even include signs with words on them. Some were even supposed to be funny! These were very similar to the kinds of silly cat pictures on the internet now. But the first cats to appear on the computer appeared in the early 1990s. People shared pictures of their cats on an early form of the internet. They talked with each other about the best way to care for cats. Then, in the late 1990s, blogs began appearing on the internet. Using blogs, people could write more about their cats, and even share videos. Some websites even devoted whole days to posting cute or funny pictures of cats. People shared more and more pictures and videos of cats.

Voice 1 

Today there are many famous internet cats. Some cats are famous for their videos and websites. These are cats like Maru, the cat from the beginning of this program. The woman who owns Maru puts new videos on youtube often. People visit his website or youtube to see what Maru is doing. People can buy things from Maru too like shirts and cups. He even has three books written about him. Another famous cat is called “Grumpy Cat”. Grumpy cat looks as if she is angry, or grumpy all the time. Grumpy cat usually appears in pictures.

Voice 2

Pictures are a popular way cats exist on the internet. Some are memes, like Grumpy Cat. People share these memes over the internet. These cat picture memes often show a cat in a strange or funny position. They often include funny words. They use wrong words or letters as if the cat is speaking in a strange form of English.

Voice 1 

One of the most famous cat memes is called “I can has cheezburger?”. In this picture, there is a fuzzy gray cat. Its eyes and mouth are all open wide. A person has used a computer program to write the words “I can has cheezburger?” at the top of the picture. The picture is cute. But it is also funny. The cat looks as if he is asking for a cheeseburger! This picture was the first on a website about cat memes. This website is even called “I can has cheezburger”. This website began as a place to share cat memes. Ben Huh bought the small website in 2007, with a group of investors. But today, it is part of a group of sites. He earns millions of dollars every year managing them.

Voice 2 

But even just making and sharing cat videos and memes on the internet can be a full-time job. In 2006, William Braden was in film school in the United States. He needed to produce a film for his final project. He chose to make a film about his black and white cat Henry. He made the film in a traditional French style. A voice on the video says Henry’s thoughts in the French language. Today, Braden makes Henry videos and manages his cat’s projects as his job.

Voice 1 

Braden knows that this job sounds silly. But he uses some of the money to give back to cats. He donates some of the money he earns to cats living in shelters. These shelters help cats whose owners have hurt them, or cats who do not have homes. They can use the money to buy cat food and supplies, and to pay for adoption fees.

Voice 2

But why do people on the internet like cats so much? How can websites like these be successful? Some experts believe that cats amaze us. Often, it is very difficult to train a cat. So, when people see a cat do something amazing, they know it did the trick without training.

Voice 1 

Or are cats popular because they are funny? Laura Miller is a writer for the magazine Salon. She suggests that cats always seem dignified and important. They look as if they think they are better than everyone else. So, when we see a cat in a funny position, we think the cat is getting what it deserves. It is becoming less important. That can be very funny to people.

Voice 2 

Or maybe people just love seeing cats on the internet because cats are cute. Michael Newall is a philosopher of art at the University of Kent. He thinks cats make people think of small babies. So, seeing funny and cute pictures of cats makes people react strongly.

Voice 1 

We may never know the answer. But we do know one thing. Cats will be on the internet for a long time. Matt Smith produces videos and pictures for the internet. He explains why he thinks there will always be more cats on the internet.

Voice 3 

“There are also almost always more pictures of cats. There is a lot of video of cats because so many people have cats. That means there is a lot of basic material for meme creation.”

Voice 2 

What about you? Do you watch cat videos on the internet? Do you enjoy cat memes? Which ones are your favourites? Tell us your thoughts about cats on the internet. Write to us at Or leave a comment on the script page of this program.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Cats on the Internet’.

Voice 2 

You can also find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Do you watch cat videos on the internet? Do you enjoy cat memes? Which ones are your favourites?


Avatar Spotlight
said on May 27, 2013

Image of story’s title is so fun hehe.I am very love pets,special cats and dogs.That’s friend of us in the life,I always play with them when feel stress or need to relaxing and they’re real friends of me.I read where had a newspaper said about loyalty of dogs with their owners.I think this is a image very beautiful not all animals had like that!

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 28, 2013

Cats are a nice,clever pet, whose behaviour is full of elegance and dignity. Cats are beautiful and funny too, everybody must love them! Cats have gone along with people for several centuries. After watching the cat videos and pictures on the Internet I feel my mood getting better.
Thanks for an interesting article!

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 29, 2013

Cat is animal familiar with us.Almost families have cat in their house for catching mouse.
It is extremely intelligent.It can remember and find out the way to home if you bring and leave it at place very far from home although it is blindforded.Image of cat often appears in carton,advertisement…It make children interested and funny!

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 07, 2014

Cat is really lovely pet. My cat can catch these mice, i proud of him. However i’m fear the cat sound “MAO MAO”  in the midnight. That make me think about devil in the fiction.
Maru is very fun, i love Maru, i love cat ^^

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said on July 12, 2014

I like cats and dogs too. They are so cute. Their fur are very soft. But in my family, they often have war. :)

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said on September 10, 2014

the cats are very very beautiful and I love it

natasoul's avatar
said on September 23, 2014

Thanks for this story. I like to watch cat videos on the internet very much because i am feeling my mood getting better and they are so funny and cute. I do not have cat at home and sometimes it make me sad . I   am always very busy and work a lot of hours so i can not look after for pets . I think it will be harm when my pet is at home alone whole day .That is why i do not have cat but i love them so so much and maybe in the future i will have a small , cute and fuzzy kitten. )))))))))))

Avatar Spotlight
Mr. Lee
said on July 14, 2015

Raise Cat is many work to do. So I never been thought about raising animal on my own. One thing I most hate is the furs all around my room.

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 16, 2015

Thank you spotlight, I’ so Happy because you are again among us!

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said on September 03, 2015

Science and technology serve the life. Internet is helpful in our world today. We use internet for our work and connecting with everyone. We build for beautiful good things together. We build for a beautiful good world together. Our world goes to perfection. Each of us contributes to develop our world. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We are brave to live our lives for beautiful good things. Our world becomes better and more beautiful when we choose beautiful good things and do not choose not good things. Our world becomes better and more beautiful when we develop beautiful good things and repel not good things together. We wish beautiful good things. We do not wish not good things. Our beautiful good world needs everyone’s contribution.

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said on January 03, 2017

Can I know which category the story is belong to? It may be useful for me when I want to use a story or article for teaching English. Almost the stories on help me a lot in my teaching. I appreciate authors and all those who have contributed to develop this website.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on January 03, 2017

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Tuesday 03, January 2017
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Joshua leo, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!
Yes, I do. Sometimes I watch cats’  videos on the internet. Yes, I do. I like all cats’ videos on the internet. The Maru cat’s videos are beaufiful.

Your regards,
Severino Ramos

KatyBlake's avatar
said on January 04, 2017

sinhkhtn - this programme comes under the category Entertainment and the sub category Internet. The Spotlight team are pleased that you find our programmes useful in your teaching.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 07, 2017

I often find some cat memes on Internet. Sometimes, it makes me scared because cat represents some horror things, specially balck cat.
I see many wild cats live around my aparment. People in my area prefer dogs to cats.
Thank you Spotlight about this video.

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 18, 2018

Thank you for this program. I like stories writing about a mad cat named Garfield. It’s fat, lazy and with a behaviour largely authoritarian and this is very funny…