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Why Cats Rule, Dogs Drool: Q&A with BuzzFeed’s Beastmaster

Three weeks ago, I wouldn’t have called myself a crazy cat person. Sure, I fell firmly on the side of “Cat Person” in Mindjet’s infographic, but crazy cat person? Not yet.

I was living life perfectly contented as a two-cat person, a number perfectly appropriate for a couple. But due to events beyond my control—fate if you will—I’ve crossed over that thin line. When kittens are involved, it’s a slippery slope. My name is Lara, and I have four cats.

It happened at a BBQ. I was busy chowing down on some veggie burgers, when I heard a commotion coming from the side of the fence. “A kitten!” someone screamed. Obviously, pandemonium ensued. The next thing I knew, I had two new kittens.  It kind of just happened. So judge me if you want. I’m coming to terms with it. At least I don’t have four dogs. Now that would be a mess. With cats I at least have a shot at becoming Internet famous.

To confirm this and to find out more about why people are so obsessed with cats and dogs, I chatted with my friend Jack Shepherd, Beastmaster of BuzzFeed Animals. No one knows cute animals better than Jack.

Lara: Take a look at my new kittens Scout (grey and white) and Henry (orange and white). In your expert opinion, who has the best future Internet-wise? How can I groom them to succeed?

Henry Scout Noah

Jack: OK, first of all, OMGOMGOMG. Second of all, my professional instinct is that your best bet at success is focusing on the relationship between the grey cat, Scout, and his big orange friend, Noah. They seem to have a mentor/disciple thing going on that has a lot of potential. What can Noah teach Scout? What can Noah learn from Scout? Why do they love each other so damn much? If you can provide insights into these questions in video form, then you may have an Internet sensation on your hands.

Scout Solo

Henry Solo

Lara: What are the major differences between cat people and dog people?

Jack: The difference between cat people and dog people is equivalent to the difference between people who enjoy the finer things in life – and people who like dogs. OK, I am just kidding and obviously totally biased here, but if I were to make a generalization about this, I would generalize that cats tend to have more to offer to an introspective mindset – to the introverts and the individualists (nice words for “shut-ins”) – whereas a dog is your guy if you’re a doer first and a thinker second, or just fundamentally more of a social creature. Cats are for INFP and dogs are for ESTJ if you want to get Myers-Briggs about it.

Lara: Who wins the Internet — cats or dogs?

Jack: I did a study about this recently, which I was pretty sure was going to confirm my theory that cats vastly outperform dogs on the Internet because their idiosyncracies allow us to anthropomorphize them in a way that is more conducive to creating a viral hit. But when I crunched the numbers, it turned out that I was (mostly) wrong. The biggest viral hits for cats are usually slightly bigger than the biggest viral hits for dogs, but in general there is roughly the same amount of interest in cat stuff as there is in dog stuff among Internet users.

Lara: Who’s the next Maru?

Jack: The big contender for Maru’s throne that everyone should be keeping an eye on right now is a cat also out of Japan called Shironeko. Shiro was number 1 out of my 30 most important cats of 2011 because he has it all – he’s confident, he’s relaxed under pressure, he has his own totally unique style, and most importantly, he has an entourage.

That said, there could be some unknowns coming out of Russia any moment – there’s been an inexplicable proliferation of major cat videos out of Russia in the last year or so, and I definitely wouldn’t count the Russians out in the race to produce the next Maru-like sensation.

Lara: Who’s the next Boo?

Jack: If the corgi trend continues, it’s definitely going to be a corgi – and out of all the corgis online right now, I would have to have to give the edge to a little fellow named Otis. Boo is going to be tough to contend with (he has a couple of million Facebook fans and a plush toy of himself), but Otis is doing really solid work at the moment.

Lara: What’s the deal with corgis?

Jack: In the last 3 or 4 years, the dogs of the moment on the Internet have been Shiba Inus, then pugs, then Bassett hounds, and now its corgis. It’s usually one big viral hit that starts the trend (the Shiba Inu live feed, the head-tilting pugs, the Bassett hounds running in slow motion). That being said, corgis may have more staying power than those other dogs on account of their stubby little legs.

Cat People vs. Dog People Faces

Want to embed this image? Feel free, the embed code is listed below:

[sourcecode language=”html”]<a title="Between Minds: Cat People vs. Dog People Faces & Names" href="http://bit.ly/L3l2Eh"><img src="http://images.learn.mindjet.com/EloquaImages/clients/MindjetLLC/%7B0e030426-bdc9-41bd-8906-2412c06fc643%7D_JESS3_Mindjet_BtwMnd_CatDog_Faces-3.jpg" alt="Between Minds: Cat People vs. Dog People Faces & Names" /></a> Infographic from <a title="Collaboration Tools from Mindjet" href="http://www.mindjet.com">Mindjet</a> [/sourcecode]