Can watching cat videos make you more productive? I don’t know about you, but when I want to put off doing something less than fun—like laundry, house cleaning or figuring my quarterly taxes—I turn to the Internet for distraction. Of course, few things online capture my attention like cat videos. If I pull up YouTube and watch one feline battle a stoat, a shoelace or a vacuum cleaner, you can bet I’ll spend 15 minutes to an hour watching a dozen more videos the website suggests. The laundry can wait.
While I’m not alone in my love of cat videos, the effect they have on my productivity—or lack thereof—may be deemed unusual. In fact, according to a new Japanese study, looking at pictures of cute animals—including cats—actually increases one’s focus, improving work output.
Scientists at Hiroshima University conducted several experiments before drawing their conclusion. The first involved a game you may remember from your childhood—at least if you’re as old as I am—called Operation. Half the players were shown images of cute puppies and kittens while the other half looked at pictures of adult cats and dogs. The participants who viewed the baby animals were better at removing organs from the patient without sounding the buzzer.
In the second experiment, participants completed a numerical puzzle. One third of them viewed pictures of baby animals beforehand. Another third saw images of adult animals, while the remaining people were asked to look at pictures of food. Again, those who spent time looking at puppies and kittens performed better. So there you have it—watching cat videos just might help you do better at work.
How often do you watch Internet cat videos? What are your favorites? Share your stories and links in the comments!