So you spent your Saturday night watching videos of Nala cat or Henri. Don't feel embarrassed: you might have been doing something good for yourself.
A new study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior surveyed 7,000 people via social media about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods. Thirty-six percent of participants described themselves as a "cat person" and 60 percent said they liked both cats and dogs.
Participants in the study reportedly had fewer negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness and annoyance after watching cat videos, even when they viewed Internet cats at work or while studying. The pleasure they got from watching cat videos seemed to outweigh 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," study author Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at Indiana University's Media School, said in a press release.
The survey also found that cat owners and people who tend to be shy and agreeable were more likely to watch cat videos. Twenty-five percent of the cat videos people watched were ones they sought out; the rest they simply happened to come across.
Internet cat videos are big business. There were more than 2 million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, according to Internet data cited in the study. With almost 26 billion views, cat videos had more views per video than any other category on YouTube.
Myrick said that the results suggest that future work could explore how online cat videos could be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy.
"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," Myrick said. "If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can't ignore Internet cats anymore."
Craving a cute kitty fix now? Click on the video below and enjoy.