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Lolcats: Where they came from and why we love them
MNN ^ | Wed, Nov 14 2012 | Laura Moss

Posted on 12/13/2012 1:27:06 PM PST by Slings and Arrows

Combine a photo of a cat with a poorly written (bad spelling and incorrect subject-verb agreement are important) caption in sans serif font, and you’ve got a lolcat.

 
The term is a composite of “LOL,” which stands for “laugh out loud,” and “cat,” and the adorable images the word describes are an Internet phenomenon.
 
The first recorded use of the word lolcat occurred in 2005 on 4chan, an imageboard website that features cat photos on Saturdays, or “Caturdays.” However, these humorous images have been “slinking around the Internet for years under various labels, but they did not become a sensation until early 2007 with the advent of I Can Has Cheezburger?" according to The News Journal.
 
Website icanhascheezburger.com brought lolcats into the mainstream, garnering coverage from Time and Entertainment Weekly, which called them “da cutest distractshun of da decaid.”
 
Lolcats of the pre-digital age
lolcat cat photographerAlthough lolcats are a relatively recent development, taking silly pictures of cats and tacking on amusing captions is hardly new. The first photographer to do just that was Harry Pointer.
 
During the 1870s, Pointer arranged his cats in a variety of unusual photos that mimicked human activities, including a cat riding a tricycle and cats roller-skating. He snapped more than 200 pictures of the funny felines, which are collectively known as the “Brighton Cats.”
 
Pointer’s photos were uncaptioned at first, but he soon realized that his images were even more amusing with a handwritten caption.
 
Photographer Harry Whittier Frees was known for similar cat photographs, but he also experimented with other animals, including dogs and rabbits. However, felines were his preferred species to work with.
 
"Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many 'human' parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal,” he said.
 
What is it about lolcats?
lolcat on bumperWe know they’re funny. And, yes, they’re adorable. But could there be something else behind the success of these lol-inducing images? Several studies reveal that these images could have a deeper psychological appeal than we realize.
 
Cat ownership has many physical benefits for humans, including lowering our risk of stroke and heart attack, but felines can also have a positive effect on our mental health. In fact, a 2003 Swiss study of 212 couples found that cats were more capable than spouses at alleviating negative moods.
 
But our attachment to cats seems to go even deeper than that. According to a Central Missouri State University study, people ascribe the same personality traits to cats that psychologists use to definite human personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and openness.
 
Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger Network, says that our tendency to associate human emotions with our cats gives them the capacity to mimic our behavior.
 
lolcat kitten in plate of food"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," Huh told The Huffington Post.
 
Finally, if you spend a lot of time on the Internet, you just might be wired to really like lolcats.
 
A University of Texas study found that those who identify themselves as dog people are more extroverted than self-proclaimed cat people. Those with a preference for felines, on the other hand, are likely more neurotic and creative.
 
And it turns out that the people who spend the most time online — and therefore generate the most Web content — tend to have personality traits that lean toward the neurotic side of the psychological spectrum, according to a study in the Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies.
 
What does this mean? The people who are naturally inclined to create and share Web content — including lolcats — are the very people who are likely to have a preference for cats. Perhaps this explains why the Internet is made of cats.
 


TOPICS: Pets/Animals
KEYWORDS: humor; kittyping
Pictures of cats with captions on them? Why didn't anyone tell me about this?! Next you'll tell me that John Kerry served in Vietnam.

BTW, don't go to 4chan looking for lolcats. Seriously. Don't.

1 posted on 12/13/2012 1:27:09 PM PST by Slings and Arrows
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To: Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; etabeta; asgardshill; devane617; ...

2 posted on 12/13/2012 1:29:43 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; etabeta; asgardshill; devane617; ...

3 posted on 12/13/2012 1:30:41 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

BTW, don’t go to 4chan looking for lolcats. Seriously. Don’t.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I don’t. I go to 4chan looking for a slang term for cats. But that’s just me.

/sarc


4 posted on 12/13/2012 1:30:52 PM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd

If I hadn’t given the warning, somebody might’ve tried it.


5 posted on 12/13/2012 1:32:46 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Believe me. BECAUSE you gave the warning, someone WILL try it.

And they will regret it.


6 posted on 12/13/2012 1:39:18 PM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd
Is that a fact?
7 posted on 12/13/2012 1:47:17 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows; TheOldLady

8 posted on 12/13/2012 1:56:54 PM PST by humblegunner
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To: Slings and Arrows

“BTW, don’t go to 4chan looking for lolcats. Seriously. Don’t.”

I didn’t want to until you said not to.


9 posted on 12/13/2012 1:58:40 PM PST by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (Some cultures are destined to remain stupid and we need to quit trying to uplift them.)
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To: Slings and Arrows; TheOldLady

10 posted on 12/13/2012 2:00:45 PM PST by humblegunner
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers

They’re not the sort of lolcats you bring home to mother.


11 posted on 12/13/2012 2:06:05 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: humblegunner

Wise kitteh.


12 posted on 12/13/2012 2:09:51 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers

See post #7.


13 posted on 12/13/2012 2:13:03 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Ping for later reading!


14 posted on 12/13/2012 2:42:03 PM PST by dragonblustar (Allah Ain't So Akbar!)
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To: Slings and Arrows

15 posted on 12/13/2012 3:17:03 PM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

16 posted on 12/13/2012 3:33:06 PM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

According to Frisky the wonder tigress, Romney was slated to win, but the Great Cat decided two-leggers hadn’t been giving enough treats to kitties.


17 posted on 12/13/2012 3:52:14 PM PST by Standing Wolf
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To: Slings and Arrows

18 posted on 12/13/2012 3:58:53 PM PST by Fresh Wind
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To: Bobalu

19 posted on 12/13/2012 4:02:28 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
It isn't always cats...


20 posted on 12/13/2012 4:10:22 PM PST by Mr Rogers (America is becoming California, and California is becoming Detroit. Detroit is already hell.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Have you seen this show yet? The LOLsters are certifiably C-R-A-Z-Y!

LOLcats Inspires New Reality Show, LOLwork, on Bravo

21 posted on 12/13/2012 5:58:17 PM PST by Daffynition (Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. ~ HLM)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Best. Thread. EVER!


22 posted on 12/13/2012 6:10:05 PM PST by CatherineofAragon (Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization)
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To: Daffynition

Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any weirder...


23 posted on 12/13/2012 7:21:26 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: CatherineofAragon

24 posted on 12/13/2012 7:25:20 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Standing Wolf

Great is the justice of Ceiling Cat.


25 posted on 12/13/2012 7:33:17 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

JimRob should consider a reality show...big bucks for all...*Housewives of FreeRepublic.* It’d be an instant hit.


26 posted on 12/13/2012 8:20:10 PM PST by Daffynition (Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. ~ HLM)
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To: Daffynition; Jim Robinson
JimRob should consider a reality show...big bucks for all...*Housewives of FreeRepublic.* It’d be an instant hit.

Starring classy green-eyed blondes!

27 posted on 12/13/2012 8:37:53 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Slings and Arrows
Someone, must still have that photo!.....ah those were the days. Found it! LOL

Gone are the fun times with A+bert.

28 posted on 12/13/2012 9:31:53 PM PST by Daffynition (Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. ~ HLM)
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To: Daffynition

We still have theme music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVXmMMSo47s


29 posted on 12/13/2012 10:07:53 PM PST by Slings and Arrows (You can't have IngSoc without an Emmanuel Goldstein.)
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To: Daffynition
Gone are the fun times with A+bert.

He once claimed he didn't drink. Like we really believed him.

30 posted on 12/14/2012 2:42:38 AM PST by Focault's Pendulum
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To: humblegunner; Slings and Arrows

That is a gorgeous cat. I didn’t know that she wore glasses, though.

And I really should check my pings more than once a day. Sorry.


31 posted on 12/14/2012 4:37:07 AM PST by TheOldLady
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To: humblegunner; Slings and Arrows

That is one smart kitteh! So... did you get him a helmet before you let him go 4-wheeling?


32 posted on 12/14/2012 4:40:55 AM PST by TheOldLady
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To: Fresh Wind
Suggested caption:



"Gud dat itz winterz. Eatin dis catch gunna tayk tu weekz."

33 posted on 12/14/2012 6:13:48 AM PST by Titan Magroyne (What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.)
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