Visit the YouTube homepage today and you’ll see a cotton candy-colored kitty replace the YouTube logo, hypnotizing you in an anime-inspired sequence. Click on the cat and a blue banner will appear. Select “Explore” on that banner and you’ll then be taken to a playlist of YouTube’s most iconic cat videos.
The list begins in 2007 with Keyboard Cat and revisits 20 others, from Grumpy Cat and Nyan cat, to more recent favorites like Pusheen, Bongo Cat, and the “Cat Vibing To levan Polkka” meme. The most recent video on the list is a 2022 tribute to Maru, a Japanese kitty who has been on YouTube for 14 years.
For many people, watching early animal content on YouTube was their first time participating in the kind of collective online experience we now take part in every day. These videos helped us understand what was funny, not just to us personally, but to millions of others. The videos are an endearing reflection on internet culture and — as I discovered while rewatching them — are just as silly and delightful today as when they were first posted to YouTube.