The internet is filled with a variety of videos. In fiction, however, people (especially Animal Lovers and furries) will usually be watching videos of animals being cute or funny instead of anything else. The most common by far are domesticated cats, though dogs, piglets, birds, llamas, and other cute animals will pop up too.
This can be due to Small Reference Pools of memes. While it's true many internet memes are animal related, most actually aren't. That being said, this is very much Truth in Television, and albeit not to the extent it once was; cute animals (including, but not limited to, cats) are always popular on the internet, and while no longer the mainstay of memes and YouTube they once were, they are still incredibly popular.
Note that Cute Kitten is about actually showing a cute animal. This trope is about people posting pictures and videos of them online and others watching them. In many of the examples, we don't even see the kitten, just people's reactions to it.
A Shallow News Site Satire will often show plenty of cute animals. Contrast with The Internet Is for Porn for the other kind of pussy you're likely to find online (unless both can overlap if you're looking for cat porn videos). Cat Girl could possibly be a Sister Trope to both if your curiosity is morbid enough. Compare and contrast to Buffoonish Tomcat, where these cats aren't meme-related when characterized by humor, but rather slapstick humor and buffoonery as well.
- A 2017 Goldfish crackers ad has the goldfish discovering the internet. It's nothing but cat videos apparently.
- While trying to seduce Shirogane as part of a bet, Hayasaka from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War claims that she likes watching cat videos (she actually watches videos of things being crushed in a hydraulic press).
- In the manga adaptation of RWBY, Ruby expresses her stage fright before a spar by wishing she was at home, watching videos of puppies on the internet instead.
- Chiranosuke, the resident Spirit Advisor of Punch Line, is regularly shown browsing cat videos on the internet, usually just before pulling up something relevant to the plot. This may cross over with The Internet Is for Porn since Chiranosuke is a cat and he's caught more than once with videos of mating cats.
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, there's a crudely animated internet video of a DJ cat and a bunch of ducks singing "Fight the Power". When Sam Sparks and her cameraman try to question Flint Lockwood about the means of controlling his food-creating invention (which he wasn't able to control yet), he uses this video to distract them while he hastily puts together an appropriate device.
Sam Sparks: I can't believe I've been watching this for 3 hours!
- It reappears as a Brick Joke when Flint tries to shut down his machine, but discovers that his dad had sent him the cat video instead of the kill code.
- Some anti-virus bots in The Emoji Movie are bowing to a video of a cat on YouTube.
- In a Monster High-movie, a teacher explains that humans spend many time watching cat videos.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet sees Ralph enter an expy of YouTube and marveling at the high volume of cat videos.
- The Secret Life of Pets combines this with Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube! after Chloe is filmed careening through a party and it ends up on the Times Square jumbotron.
- In Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the Roman legionnaire pieces are watching a video of a cat being distracted by a laser pointer on YouTube. It ends up being a Chekhov's Gun: later in the movie, a pack of lion statues comes to life because of the Moon Tablet and our hero gets an idea of distracting them with his torchlight.
- In Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin Powers, who has gotten used to the 1990s by now, tells Foxxy Cleopatra, who is from the 1970s that the Internet "has completely revolutionized the way we live and access vital information" - and shows her a video clip of a cute baby chimp having an amusing mishap.
- In Kim Possible, Drakken tags a photo on Villainstagram with "''#CUTECATS". The photo itself, however, has nothing to do with cats.
- The Spanish film Toc Toc contains a scene in which five OCD sufferers have been awaiting a world-famous therapist—that can supposedly cure them in only one session— for hours and are beginning to find his secretary's various excuses for him a bit suspicious. This is confirmed when she was supposed to be trying to fix the system that automatically scheduled all their appointments at the same time instead of one by one, but she is actually watching a video of kittens doing funny things.
- The short story "Cat Pictures Please", as the name might have suggested. It's about a search engine algorithm that accidentally gained sapience, and only wants two things: to be moral, and cat pics.
I suppose you're wondering why I didn't start with the Golden Rule. I actually did, it's just that it was disappointingly easy to implement. I hope you've been enjoying your steady supply of cat pictures! You're welcome.
- In Dark Heavens, Emma has to tell the White Tiger to stop sending her cat videos when she's trying to work.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The normally Comically Serious Dr. Robbins appears in one episode laughing at internet cat memes in an Imagine Spot where he's incompetent.
- In Daredevil (2015), as Ben Urich prepares to launch his war against Wilson Fisk in bloggerspace, Fisk dismisses his efforts since people only use the Internet to look at "celebrity weddings and videos of cats."
- In The Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper makes a disparaging reference to Penny doing this a lot on the Net (when she isn't looking for shoes). to which Penny replies along the lines of "So what's your point?"
- On an episode of Austin & Ally a video of Ally's performance becomes the top video on a website, beating a video of a sneezing panda. The characters are about to watch Ally's video when a video of said panda's baby sneezing becomes the top video.
- On NCIS, McGee apparently watches so many "funny cat" videos online that he makes a New Year's resolution to watch fewer.
- One episode of Community features a Mad Scientist who locked himself away in the 70s to work on a way to prevent the advance of technology from turning humans into emotionless machines. He's overjoyed to discover that these days, a major use of technology is allowing people to squee over kittens.
- Garcia from Criminal Minds admits to using kitten videos as a form of Brain Bleach when working disturbing cases. The BSU team works a lot of disturbing cases.
- Arrow. The Calculator gets hold of a device that Felicity Smoak worries could be used to destroy the Internet. The superhacker denies the charge, pointing out that a) the Internet is where he works, and b) he's addicted to funny cat videos.
- Not long before the WWW became accessible to the public, there was the Japanese deskmate app Neko, featuring an animated cat that chased the mouse cursor. It was later ported to the WWW at WebNeko.net.
- The freeware image manipulation program PhotoScape has "cats" as its default filename in the save dialogue.
- In Kittens Game, the Flavor Text for the Satellites technology is "Spreading cat videos at the speed of light".
- Near the start of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Beep-0 gets an e-mail. It thought that the attachment was probably just a cat video, not something useful.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a clothing item called the "meme shirt" in-game. It's a t-shirt with a suitably ridiculous design of a cat's head shooting lasers out of its eyes, obviously based off this trope.
- In Swarm Simulator, the Alt Text for Hive Networks is "Networks also allow them to play games and watch videos of ...uhh, cats."
- At one point in Custom Robo Arena, Dennis, one of the player's teammates, is nervous before a Custom Robo tournament, so he looks up cat pictures online to help him calm down.
- In the Ciconia: When They Cry Data Fragment "Koshka's WanyaDora Adventure", as part of a Chain of Deals, Koshka must show Miyao ten cat videos, with the catch being that Miyao must never have seen that video before and he's already seen almost every single cat video on the internet. Koshka manages to find seven new videos, but decides to have Gunhild film three new videos instead of finding the rest.
- The first Edison Hate Future comic is about how Edison looks into the future and finds out how the "World Wide Intar Wub" is for sharing cat pictures. "edison hate future."
- Gronk demonstrated this with Dale introducing Gronk to Youtube cat videos.
- In one xkcd strip, Black Hat Guy is telling someone that he's from the internet, and is here to glue captions to the person's cats.
- One of the Trope Codifiers for this trope is LOLCats, a meme that sprung up on the internet around the late 2000s, where people create image macros by writing funny captions into pictures of cute cats.
- In the Nostalgia Critic review of Catwoman (2004), when he got Anne Hathaway, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sean Young, and Eartha Kitt to make a video of themselves and adore at the end of the review. It bit him in the ass when Halle Berry appears and beat him up while the girls were distracted by the video. Also, considering how he and the girls lampshade the fetish aspects of Catwoman in general, it was a Bait-and-Switch of The Internet Is for Porn.
- The Key of Awesome's first video is "Heavy Metal Cats", which pokes fun at this trend.
- In the Atop the Fourth Wall episode on the Spiderman: Virtual Mortality this gets referenced. After the comic (which is from the 1990s) comments about how 'cyberspace' has no boundaries and has infinite potential and possibility, Linkara says "The capacity for pornography, cat videos, and harassment is infinite!"
- In another video, Linkara says at the end of the review that he'll be using his computer to surf the web to watch videos of cats being cute.
- Lampshaded in What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? after Tara first manages to get her nephew's cat on screen. It would become something of a running gag in later episodes.
Nash: You know, we're a ridiculous species because all it takes is to put a kitty cat on the internet and we lose our fucking minds.
- Media Molecule wholeheartedly believe this, using video on their site (originally from rathergood.com) which explains how the internet is made of cats.
- On Reddit, a user asked Sir Tim Berners-Lee note what he didn't expect what the Internet would be used for. His answer? "Kittens."
- One of the slogans on Reddit's header image is "Come for the cats, stay for the empathy."
- Animaniacs (2020): The first Pinky and the Brain short of the reboot, "Of Mice and Memes", involves Brain trying to take advantage of people's fondness for funny animal videos by making a viral video of himself with a "mind control" filter.
- Phineas and Ferb: In "At the Car Wash", Dr. Doofenshmirtz briefly interrupts his exposition to Perry the Platypus to show some funny cat pictures he discovered on the Internet.
Doofenshmirtz: Look! "Invisible cheeseburger"! (beat) No, huh? Well, it's not for everyone. I just think they're funny.
- The Regular Show episode "Cat Videos" had Benson develop an addiction to cat videos. Keeping true to the show's penchant for surreal plots, it's eventually revealed that the cat videos were actually made by human actors pretending to be cats while filmed using a filter that makes them appear to be felines, with the cat videos' producer Cat Masterson ultimately turning out to be an actual cat himself.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Too Short to Ride" the first thing Peridot ever sees on the internet is a cat video.
Peridot: Why was this documented?
- Wander over Yonder In "The Catastrophe", Wander and Sylvia arrive on a planet in time for a space jellyfish migration, but Wander (and eventually everyone else on the planet except Sylvia) gets hooked on portable video players featuring cute and funny videos of a cat named "Baby Cakes", including one that's a Shout-Out to Keyboard Cat. It turns out to be mind-control, and "Baby Cakes" is actually Li'l Bits, a villain from a previous episode, trying to use her hypnotic cuteness to scam people out of their money.
- One of the main antagonists on We Bare Bears is Nom Nom, a koala who appears on cute videos but is actually a spoiled jerk. Most of the stories he's been in involve him becoming jealous of the bears when videos of their antics go viral, which he sees as a challenge to his celebrity.
- This applies even 20 Minutes into the Future in Big Hero 6: The Series. One episode has a popular internet celebrity get surpassed in popularity by a cute video of Mochi, which quickly becomes the most viewed video on the site. He gets so mad that he kidnaps the cat and tries to send him off in a rocket into space. He fails, and in the end, a video of Aunt Cass and Mochi reuniting becomes the new most-watched video.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Internet", Gumball and Darwin beg for the Internet not to be shut down because of cute cat videos and pictures.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, one of the two protagonists is a cat-themed superhero, who has apparently received the LOLCats treatment in-universe.
- Kaeloo: Apparently, even though the show is set in a World of Funny Animals, there are still cat videos; even Mr. Cat, a Funny Animal who is one of the main characters of the show, thinks being a cat is awesome because people on the internet love cats.
- Love, Death & Robots: In "Three Robots" some robots exploring a post-apocalyptic city find a cat and one of them says humans had "entire networks that were devoted to dissemination of pictures of these things."
- The Owl House features a Fictional Social Network called "MewTube". As you would imagine, it's like YouTube if the entire site was devoted to cat videos.
- South Park has "cat breading" photos, a meme in which cats are photographed with their faces in the middle of slices of bread... except the cats are the ones posting the photos.
- Transformers: Prime on the Internet:
Starscream: A trillion gigabytes of data, none of it useful!*Starcream watches a video of a dancing monkey*Starscream: Though some... oddly engrossing.