Spending hours of your life watching funny cat videos online may not have been such a waste of time after all.
According to a new study by an Indiana University Media School researcher, they boost viewers' energy and positive emotions and decrease negative feelings.
The study, by assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick, surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods, reports The Telegraph.
Internet data show there were more than two million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, with almost 26 billion views. Cat videos had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
Myrick said: "If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can't ignore Internet cats anymore."
In Dr Myrick's study, the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Fewer negative emotions
Study participants were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before. They also had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
And crucially the pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
The results also suggest that future work could explore how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy.
"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward," Myrick said.