In 2008, American media scholar Ethan Zuckerman floated a provocative theory about the internet.
In the modern digital age, he mused, people are more interested spending their online hours clicking on pictures of cute cats (or funny dogs, or adorable art made by kids) than engaging in social activism or deep discussions about current events.
In fact, his idea has a name: the cute cat theory of digital activism.
We're putting the theory to the test with a photo set from the Hamilton Cat Fanciers' 2014 Cat Show.
Dozens of cat breeders from Ontario and beyond set up in the Merritt Building of the Ancaster Fairground on Saturday and Sunday to show off their finest felines.
(If you want can't tame your impulses enough to read further and just want skip to looking at pictures of cats, flip through the gallery at the top of the page.)
The cats compete in a series of categories, depending on their breed. They're judged on a number of criteria, including the appearance of their coat and their body proportions.
Cat shows offer breeders the opportunity to show off their prized pets, said Elaine Gleason, a London, Ont., breeder of Burmese cats and one of the event organizers.
"For the breeders, they're looking to get titles for their animals and hopefully get a national regional win. It's a little bit of an ego boost," she said. "Competition is part of human nature."
But building camaraderie among cat lovers is also a big draw for participants.
"It's also a family," said Gleason. "Once you start going to these, you sit beside somebody and sit by another person. You have time to kill and get to know these people, and then get really good, close friendships out of it.
"So it's like a close family."