Most of us are guilty of whiling away the odd five minutes with, for instance, a video of a cat contemptuously batting a candle off a table. But a new study suggests those minutes aren't wasted – because watching cat videos is actually good for you.
According to Jessica Gall Myrick, a researcher at Indiana University Bloomington, Grumpy Cat and his friends do "more than simply entertain" – they boost viewers' energy and positive emotions, and decrease negative feelings.
The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, questioned almost 7,000 people about their experiences of cat videos and how they affect their moods. It found people were more energetic and felt more positive after they watched "cat-related online media" than before, and that they had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after they watched them.
Cat owners and "people with certain personality traits", such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos. About a quarter of the videos watched had been sought out – the others "just happened". Not unlike the age-old rivalry between cat and lampshade…
Apparently we don't even feel that bad when we do watch them: the study found the pleasure people got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research," suggested Myrick. Not her, though.
"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 any more," she said.
Amen to that. In the interests of your wellbeing, here's a cat, dressed in a shark costume, riding a roomba, chasing a duckling.