Wednesday 2 July 2014

The Domestic Cat As An Entertainer

The Internet cat video, of which there are copious quantities, indicates to me that our relationship with the domestic cat is one of entertainer and entertained.  The cat is the entertainer and people wish to be entertained by the domestic cat.

Before the cat video nobody would have envisaged the success that they have enjoyed.  It's an Internet video phenomenon and it is hard to understand because the relationship that we have with the domestic cat through the video is very different to the relationship that we have in reality, on the ground.

The former is about entertainment and nothing else, while on the ground the reality is much harsher but it seems that the underlying reason why people keep a domestic cat is to be entertained.  This is a variation on the accepted, main reason why people live with a domestic cat, which is for companionship.  Companionship and entertainment go hand-in-hand.

So perhaps our relationship with a domestic cat is not quite what we think it is.  The concept that the domestic cat's role is to entertain his or her owner is supported by the fact that when he or she is no longer able to entertain his owner, he is sometimes abandoned or relinquished.

A lack of ability to entertain would include scratching the owner or being defensively aggressive because the owner creates a hostile environment in which the cat lives.  If the cat scratches her owner she is doing the exact opposite of entertaining her owner.  At which point the owner is no longer interested and abandons her cat.

Examples of "reality entertainment" as opposed to "video entertainment", online on YouTube, is a cat lying next to you while you stroke him or playing with your cat.  Examples of feline entertainment in videos are the classic funny cat videos which personally I now find very tiresome.

The video above is one that I made about 5 years ago or more and it is entertaining but it is serious entertainment.  At the time of writing this it has received more than 7,000,000 views.  When it was made it was unique but then gradually over time it has become almost commonplace such has been the rapid expansion of the entertaining domestic cat video.

The form of entertainment that the wild cat video brings to the human household is different.  The most successful are gory and about fighting or about the big cats chasing and attacking prey.  As long as an animal gets badly hurt or killed it is regarded as entertaining.  Thus the entertaining wild cat video is at the other end of the spectrum to the entertaining cute domestic kitten video but they have one thing in common: they are extreme and they entertain people which is the modern role of the cat.

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