Cats and kittens rule the Internet. It's been that way for a while; just look at the parody of YouTube's logo floating around that says "CatVideos" instead. The website I Can Has Cheezburger, whose primary page was originally nothing but LOLcats, received more than 450,000 visits, and nearly 2 million page views, per day as of June 2011. Granted, I Can Has Cheezburger is an entire network of humorous blogs under various categories, including the extremely popular Fail Blog, but the LOLcats are also extremely popular and make the rounds of the Internet quite easily.
Why are LOLcats so popular? One theory has to do with "Caturday," which originally was people posting pictures of their cats in discussion forums on Saturdays. Caturday continues on Twitter, with pics of cats and LOLcats, and amusing stories and quotes under the hashtag #caturday. It also continues on Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, and elsewhere.
There are also many well known memes within LOLcats, such as Basement Cat, Ceiling Cat, Grumpy Cat (Tardar Sauce), the Itteh Bitteh Kitteh Committeh, If it Fits I Sits, Limecat, Nyan Cat/Pop Tart Cat, Chemistry Cat, Business Cat, and more, are all well known to netizens. These ongoing memes are familiar on the Cheezburger site and elsewhere, with people sharing and re-sharing, captioning and re-captioning, depending on their moods, thoughts, whims and anything else.
Why do cats rule the Internet in general? It's not just LOLcats that rule, though they certainly command an awful lot of attention. According to an article written in The New Republic by Perry Stein, cultural historian Miles Orvell, from Temple University, says that what the Internet has done is leverage, or exploit, a cultural fascination with cats that already existed. In other words, the Internet did not create this seemingly new appeal; it just gave it a new outlet.
Orvell points out that Western fascination with cats is over a thousand years old, going all the way back to an Irish monk's writings about his own cat, and fast-forwarding to 20th century cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Loony Tunes, and more, which also feature cats (though Looney Tunes does feature much more than just cats).
Stein's article mentions another possibility, which is that young kittens, with their big, innocent blue eyes, round heads, small noses and tiny bodies resemble human babies more than any other animal, creating a nurturing instinct in people that doesn't present as strongly with other animals.
Community may also play a part, according to Stein's article; cat owners don't have parks and training classes to attend the way dog owners do, and the Internet gives them a certain place to congregate and be, well, cat owners.
Ben Huh, CEO of I Can Has Cheezburger, believes that the phenomenon may also be due to the fact that cats are similarly expressive to people, according to an article on "Mashable." He says, "Cats have very expressive facial and body expressions, so they are a perfect canvas for human emotion, which makes them awesome for captioning and anthropomorphization."
Amy-Mae Elliot, author of the "Mashable" article, explored several reasons that are different from Perry Stein's for why cats dominate the Internet, and concluded that there is no definitive reason why. The answer, then, is likely a combination of all the reasons in her article, all the reasons in Stein's article, and perhaps others.
Perhaps it's just because cats rule and dogs drool. Or cats rule, and that is that.