Some days, it feels as though at least half the internet consists of cat videos (and we at Strombo.com are by no means immune to their charms). YouTube is full of thousands of clips of felines riding skateboards, playing keyboards, jumping in and out of boxes and scaring dogs many times their size. There are even companies set up to cash in on the phenomenon, and conference panels on the economy of cat videos.
Turns out, all that frenzied, obsessive attention to cats behaving badly (and cutely) can be harnessed for a good cause — drawing attention to the thousands of unloved cats on our streets and in our shelters.
"We love them on the internet, but in real life our shelters are bursting," Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies told Strombo.com. The CFHS is organizing a 10-date, cross-country film fest called Just For Cats (the slogan: "All of the cattiness of the film fest. But with cats.")
(All the videos in the post are part of the festival.)
The CFHS teamed up with Minneapolis's Walker Art Center, which launched a cat video film fest in 2012 as a way to bring the community closer to art. More than 10,000 submissions poured in, and thousands of people showed up to watch cat movies on the centre's lawn. The festival started touring through the U.S., and in some venues, it was used as a way to raise money and awareness of overpopulation.
"We just face hundreds of thousands of cats [in our shelters], and we as a community all need to come together to deal with the problem," Cartwright says. Before each edition of the festival, the CFHS will play a pre-reel educating cat video lovers about the severity of the issue and calling on them to take action by spaying and neutering their cats, making sure they're tagged and collared and adopting stray animals.
Festival-goers are also invited to submit their own cat videos, one of which will be selected to be played on the big screen in each city. Laureen Harper, the wife of Prime Minsiter Stephen Harper and a longtime supporter of cats and shelters, has signed up to host the Toronto fest, which takes place on April 17 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (there will even be cats walking the red carpet).
"The internet is the best thing that's ever happened to cats," Cartwright said. "It's catapulted them into a megastar spotlight." Now she's hoping that spotlight can extend to all the stray and feral cats out there too.
To find out whether the fest is coming to your town, head over the Just For Cats website.