When discussing absurd Internet content of any kind, my go-to example is the cat video. There’s something about the online obsession with cats doing funny things that’s the perfect metaphor for wasting time online. Maybe it’s the ubiquity of online cat content, or the fact that this content is so far below the ultimate potential of the devices we view it on.

Cats are the most popular pets in America, outnumbering dogs by about 12 million, and there have been serious academic attempts to figure out why cats are so popular online. One theory suggests that, unlike dog owners, cat owners can’t really interact with other owners and their pets in public. As such, the Internet serves as a sort of virtual feline alternative to dog parks. Or maybe it’s just funny to see such allegedly graceful animals occasionally show off such a complete lack of situational awareness and poise.

What’s New, Pussycat?

There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, and cat videos are definitely entertaining. So much so that Perth, Australia, just hosted its first Internet Cat Video Festival. While the festival was new to that city, it isn’t an all-around new event. It first originated in the U.S., in 2012, before spreading to Europe in 2013, and Australia via Sydney in 2014. Cat videos, apparently, are among America’s leading exports.

Searching YouTube for “cat” yields 26.3 million results, meaning that site has more cat videos than Australia has cats—3.3 million as pets, and possibly as many as 18 million feral. With so many videos available, someone had to select appropriate content for the festival. That someone was Minnesota’s Walker Arts Centre, which narrowed the 26 million contenders down to 85 featured selections. The list included everything from six-second Vine videos to short feature films.

It’s for a Good Cause

There was a serious cause behind all the silliness. The festival benefited Cat Haven, western Australia’s largest cat-related charity. Cat Haven brought a number of adoptable cats to the festival and streamed footage of other cats at their facility. In 2014, Cat Haven found new homes for over 4,000 cats, and reunited over 100 more with their previous families.

Here, Kitty Kitty

It’s rare that a cat will come when called, but the cat film festival just might. Those of you who really love watching cats fall off tables or sit in boxes can request to bring the festival to your town. In 2014, the festival made 44 stops in 26 states and five countries on four continents. The full 2015 schedule hasn’t been released yet, but it returns to the Walker Arts Centre in August. If you can’t wait that long, you can always watch the full 2014 playlist, or see highlights of the action at previous festivals.

Image By Scott Beale/Flikr