Cats: Kings of the Web and Shelters

Cat surfing on the internet

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the Internet, chances are you’ve come across a cat video or photo. From Grumpy Cat to Nyan Cat, felines have conquered the digital world. With their adorable faces and unpredictable behaviour, they attract millions of views, likes and shares. But why are these moustachioed creatures such a hit online? And what about the situation of cats in refuges or the increase in the number of pets? Let’s take a humorous look at this phenomenon.

Cats, the Divas of Social Networks

Just imagine for a moment: you’re a cat. Your daily life consists of eating, sleeping and maybe playing with a string if you’re feeling adventurous. And yet you’re a star. Your every move is scrutinised by thousands of people. Jumping awkwardly off a sofa? Viral video. Staring at a wall? Artistic masterpiece. Cats don’t even have to try; they’re naturally photogenic and hilarious.

Take Grumpy Cat, for example. With his perpetually disgruntled expression, this cat has managed to embody the mood of millions of people around the world. “Oh, did you have a bad day? Me too, and every day,” Grumpy Cat seems to be saying. The whole world laughed, and derivative products invaded the market: mugs, t-shirts, calendars, everything. Who’d have thought that such a career could be built on a single product?

Cat videos have another intrinsic quality: the charm of the unexpected. A cat jumping into a box, dashing off and missing, or hiding in unlikely places (hello, cat in the letterbox!) are all scenes that surprise and amuse. This spontaneity is what makes them irresistible. You never really know what a cat is going to do, and that’s precisely what keeps us glued to our screens.

Social networks are no innocent party in this story. The algorithms of Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have understood the magnetic power of cats. As soon as you watch one, your News Feed fills up with similar videos. The algorithm knows you better than you know yourself: “Oh, did you smile at that video of a cat chasing a laser pointer? Here are a hundred other videos just as hilarious!” And so the loop continues, making cats the undisputed kings of viral content.

The other side of reality – Cats in shelters, Cats in distress

But behind these Internet stars lies a less glamorous reality: that of cats in shelters. While some cats rack up millions of views and likes, others are desperately waiting for a loving family. It’s a cruel paradox that so many of these creatures, who bring so much joy online, are looking for a home. Not to mention the cats who live in poor conditions, with abusive families.

Feline overpopulation

Shelters are often overwhelmed. In France, for example, thousands of cats are abandoned every year. The main cause? Overpopulation. Cat owners sometimes forget the importance of sterilisation, and before they know it, they have a litter of kittens on their hands. These kittens, as cute as they are, often end up in shelters, hoping to find a family before they themselves are overwhelmed by other arrivals.

Imagine a refuge full of cats. One of them could be the next Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub. Yet without a presence on social networks, they remain invisible. Shelters are making more and more efforts to showcase their residents on the internet, but it’s still a huge challenge. “Adopt Câlinou, he can roll over and loves to be petted” doesn’t have the same impact as a viral video. That’s the sad paradox of our times: to attract attention, you sometimes already have to be famous.

Fortunately, there are heroes behind the scenes. Volunteers and shelter staff fight every day to give these animals a second chance. They take photos, write catchy descriptions, and sometimes even shoot short videos to try to bring these cats out of anonymity. Thanks to them, some cats find their forever families. They are silent soldiers in the battle against abandonment and neglect.

Alongside the rise of cat stars on the Internet, there is another trend: the increase in the number of pets. The COVID-19 pandemic played a crucial role in this dynamic. People, isolated and looking for companionship, have adopted pets en masse. But what does this mean for our four-legged friends?

Pandemic adoptions

Confinement has prompted many people to seek comfort in animals. Shelters have seen a spike in adoptions, which is great news for many animals. However, this trend also has its downside. Some of these spur-of-the-moment adoptions have led to further abandonments once life returns to some semblance of normality.

The cat, with its independent nature and relative need for maintenance (compared with a dog, for example), became the ideal pet. It’s not surprising that cats were particularly popular during this period. They provide a comforting presence without the need for daily walks, which was perfect for shut-ins.
However, this rapid increase in adoptions has highlighted some challenges. New owners are not always prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership. Vets have reported an increase in consultations linked to problematic behaviour, often due to a lack of preparation and education on the part of new owners.

Between laughter and reality : where do you stand for cat protection ?

Cats will continue to reign on social networks, amusing us with their antics and comforting us with their soothing presence. But let’s not forget the millions of cats in shelters waiting for a family, or the cats living in abusive homes… What is the Internet community doing for them? What if online cat stars could inspire adoption? After all, every cat deserves a chance to shine, whether in front of a camera or in the lap of a loved one.

We live in an age where a simple meow can trigger waves of laughter and torrents of likes. But every click, every share can also be a reminder that an act as simple as adoption can change a life. Cats have conquered the Internet and our hearts; now it’s time for them to conquer our actions.