Cat videos - from Lil Bub to Grumpy Cat - do more than simply entertain. If you get a warm, cuddly feeling after watching cute cat videos online, the effect may be more profound than you think.
Cat videos boost viewers' energy and positive emotions and decrease negative feelings, says a study.
Internet data showed there were more than two million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, with almost 26 billion views.
Cat videos had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
The researchers surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods.
"If we want to better understand the effects the internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can not ignore Internet cats anymore," said lead researcher Jessica Gall Myrick, assistant professor at Indiana University.
In Myrick's study, the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Of the participants in the study, about 36% described themselves as a "cat person", while about 60% said they liked both cats and dogs.
The participants reported that they were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before. Also, they experienced a decrease in negative emotions such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness after watching the videos.
The participants often viewed internet cats at work or during studying. The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward."
Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos, the study found.
The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior