Photo by Helen Pitlick
The year was 1984 and in Spokane, Wash., Charlie Schmidt was “unemployed and destitute, but there were three things that [he] had: a cat, a camera, and a keyboard.”
Charlie made hundreds of videos of his cat playing a keyboard, now immortalized as Keyboard Cat. The videos lay dormant until he posted one on YouTube in 2007. Cat videos as we know them were born.
Yesterday, the Internet Cat Video Festival made a Seattle stop in its multi-city tour. Cat ladies and gentlemen gathered at Showbox in the Market to watch a series of the web’s most beloved feline shorts.
Everyone in the audience was palpably excited and had been eagerly anticipating the event for weeks. Everyone else was all, “you’ve got to be kitten me.” (according to Buzzfeed, cat people like puns…)
Love them or hate them (and you love them, right?), cat videos have become an industry, launching celebricats like Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, Maru, and more. So what’s the appeal? Wired Magazine tried to get to the bottom of the phenomenon, but I think that Amber Armstrong, a Seattle-based software developer attending the event, sums it up nicely: “Because they’re funny and they make me happy, and they’re also cute.”
Charlie with the current Keyboard Cat (Photo by Helen Pitlick)
A Cat Lady Networking Opportunity
Just about everyone I interviewed shared the same sentiment. “Who’s not a cat video fan?” asked Beth Steinhouse, a volunteer with the Seattle Humane Society. “They’re fun and cute and just a nice little escape.”
But why pay $20 to watch cat videos in a theater when you can watch them for free at home? MC Will Braden, creator of Henri (winner of the Golden Kitty award at the first Internet Cat Video Festival), told the audience: “It’s not about watching cat videos. It’s about watching cat videos together.” Continue reading