Cats are worshipped. They are the most popular pet in the world. People who own cats have a strange and strong obsession with these furry and elusive creatures. This deep respect, admiration and possible obsession is very noticeable now that we’re all on the Internet. I think it’s safe to say that the power of the cat on the Internet cannot be overstated.
Take for example the ‘art wave’ of Internet cat videos. TIFF, a charitable cultural organization whose projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September, actually showed a nation-wide film reel of popular cat videos, including, but not limited to: Henri: the Existential Cat; L’il Bub; Boots/Cats and many more. The event was an instant success, with screenings selling out nation-wide almost immediately. In fact, Laureen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, made the trip to Toronto to show her personal love and dedication to this beloved animal.
You are witness to this sensation, too. Have you ever seen a link to a funny cat video on Facebook? Perhaps this one, of ninja cat. This video got over 43 million views on YouTube. It’s great. Or perhaps you have seen this heroic cat, saving a child from a vicious dog attack. This particular video garnered over 22 million hits. Cat videos make us laugh, but they also show us the protective nature of cats. Cats are often brushed aside as aloof and disinterested animals; in fact, they feel for us, love us, and can even protect us when we are in harm.
Our obsession with cats is not a new phenomenon. We humans have always been this way. In Ancient Egypt, cats were considered a ‘revered animal’ and were extremely important in both society and religion. In fact, some cats even received the same mummification after death as humans.
The Greeks, another honoured and respected society, also loved cats. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that in the event of a fire, men would guard the fire to make certain that no cats ran into the flame. In addition, he noted that “when a cat died, the household would go into mourning as if for a human relative, and would often shave their eyebrows to signify their loss.”
In fact, in the height of both of these great civilizations, human beings were sentenced to death for killing a cat — even accidentally.
However, despite the laughs they give us, we know that not all cats are loved. If I could feasibly house all the cats in the world to ensure none of them suffered at the hands of other, less-evolved beings, I would! It’s not a viable reality. So, unfortunately, many cats enter this world to live vicious and brutal lives – facing malnourishment or starvation, attacks by other animals higher up the food chain, or even human-inflicted abuse. The reason for this is simple: cats breed quickly, and they breed often. There are too many of them out there to love.
Now, earlier populations like the Egyptians and Greeks had an excuse: they simply did not have access to the proper technology to solve this cat population problem. Indeed, they would ‘cull kittens’ to keep the amount of cats in reasonable numbers.
Primitive technology disabled earlier populations from effectively controlling the cat population. However, in 2014, we have the technology to spay and neuter cats and work to ensure that each cat born is born for a purpose – not as an accident, with no where to go, no one to love, and no one to love them. Even still, however, shelters across ‘developed’ nations like Canada still report surprising figures about the welfare of modern-day cats.
Each shelter is purportedly “bursting” with cats. These shelters can’t take on the responsibility of neutering these cats, though. As a result, cat population continues to be a problem. Shelters are sometimes forced to euthanize our friendly critters because they become sick due to overcrowding. Furthermore, neglectful and ignorant humans sometimes abuse the animals they are trusted to love and care for, increasing the pressure on shelters to provide care, and a suitable home, for these harmed creatures. Shelters transform the fate of cats and offer them love, and a possible happy ‘forever’ home.
Cat population control doesn’t need to be a problem anymore. We know cats breed, but we have the technology to change it. I can only assume that this continues to be a problem because we are simply not aware of the severity of the cat-population issue, or perhaps we are, but it’s just not at the forefront of our radar, what with life, and all.
However, we do know what Grumpy Cat said in his last Internet-famous meme, and we absolutely know how ridiculously cute Maru is when he slides across the floor into a soda-pop box and stares up at us. We see cats online every day….
Being aware of this clear cultural obsession with cats, the Canadian Federation for Humane Societies – a collection of national humane societies, the Society for the Protection of Animals and other interested like-minded organizations -paired up with film festivals across Canada to get people to recognize that cat population control can’t just be done by humane societies themselves – it is a “community problem that requires community effort.”
I wondered. The cat community is a strong one. So is the bitcoin community. So strong that we actuallysponsor Nascar with DogeCoin – a cryptocurrency based on a dog meme.
Bitcoiners are also a really cool, forward-thinking, humanitarian-oriented group of people. Some of us are very interested in dismantling old, archaic , even dysfunctional systems that do not serve humanity. We would rather work to create a better world for us all.
Bitcoiners came together to support Sean’s Outpost nicely, and we also showed our true colours in fundraising for that fat cheque given to wrongfully-accused Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. From my point of view, ‘Hardcore Bitcoiners’ appear to believe in ending war, doing no harm, and in living and let live. And we just love supporting a good cause.
And our beloved Bitcoin has many functions, two of which include peer-to-peer charitable donations and the ability to micro-pay/tip.
Mat Cyrulo, founder of social-tipping application Cryptiv, agrees with the YouTube Cat video + social tipping power combination. “If Egyptian Pharaohs had smartphones and YouTube, they would have probably posted cat videos, too,” he laughs. “Cats are a metaphor for a unique form of Internet culture. Reddit loves cats so much, it’s crazy. The Internet also has a unique language, (meme, lulz.) [Now]… we have a currency that will let the people of the Internet join forces when they feel that something needs to be done.”
So, if we enable microtipping on YouTube videos and other online content, and allowed viewers, or even likers, to ‘tip’ their way directly into a Humane Society’s wallet, we could finally solve this ongoing cat-population problem.
But Mat doesn’t see this restricted to YouTube tipping. “Using Cryptiv, you can send a donation to a humane society over Twitter. Everyone who follows you sees that Tweet. You look like a nice gal/guy to your followers. Or, if you spend 5 hours making a cat meme/video and you donate all the tips to the humane society, you look like a hero.”
“Thus,” he continues, “ we achieve multiple things: entertaining people, and getting social gratification from our work, and promoting a cause we love/care about.”
Louis CK had great success with this type of fundraising activity: he produced a video, posted it online and asked for donations, and made “more than he could have with HBO.” Mat continues with a RadioHead example: “They released their album online via ‘pay what you can’ and made more money than their last album.”
The key here is that – with crypto – the sums of money can now be any size. “It was impossible to send a penny before, and now you can send a fraction of a penny via a social cue. Pennies can be powerful when there are enough of them,” says Mat.
Imagine the possibilities of including a micropayment tip-application like Cryptiv or ChangeTip to YouTube. Every time you watch Ninja Cat, or show Grumpy Cat off to your friend, you can tip .01 cent. Or .05. Or even .25. Whatever! It’s really nothing for us who have the luxury of time and ability to laugh at cat videos or memes, and it’s totally worth it, because if we all do it, that number adds up. That .01 c (equivalent in bitcoin, or perhaps Kittehcoin/CatCoin), is transferred directly to a local humane society or animal shelter. This activity amounts to some massive money.
Take the numbers generated by NyanCat, for example. This pop-tart bodied cat who flies happily through a rainbow, while singing the same song forever got a whopping +112,000,000 views. And that’s just the count on one of his/her/its many videos. If the video linked directly to a Humane Society’s wallet, and every viewer spent .01c to enjoy NyanCat’s epic journey, direct charitable givings would have amounted to over $1,000,o00.00 dollars. How far do you think shelters around the world can go with any extra money, let alone a million dollars? From people enjoying an animated poptart cat?
And that’s just the social tipping side. With our direct peer-to-peer technology, we now know that every bit of charitable donation (tip) we are sending is going to a wallet that is in the hands of a humane society. We can see it.
Bitcoin is financial empowerment. It enables communities to come together online and pool our resources to make massive change. Those of us who agree that animal abuse is completely unnecessary, let alone in this day and age, can now make this happen using Bitcoin.
Soon, YouTube will have micro-tipping options for popular content. YouTube content creators can still earn their significant advertising revenue, so no one loses; indeed, cats win, cat video/content creators win, YouTube wins, and we as an evolved species win.
What can we do? Educate, educate, educate. Find your local animal shelter. Determine for yourself if it’s run up to snuff, and if you would feel good giving them money. Teach them about Bitcoin. Create a wallet for them – or better yet, have them go through the process of creating their own wallet with you there. Empower them.
Then reach out to content creators and educate them, too. Help them install a social tipping tool, or just paste the QR code to the shelter’s wallet on their YouTube page. Educate them on why this is good, and what it will do. Heck, they clearly already love cats enough to make videos about them! People love to laugh, and as Ethan Buchman of CoinCulture says, “the best way to raise money for charitable causes is by making a joke out of it.” If Potato Salad has taught us anything, it’s that people feel more open to sending money to things that make them laugh.
If this is indeed true, these cats are going to be billionaires.
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Victoria is a partner at Bitcoin Strategy Group, and a contributor to Bitcoin Magazine, CoinDesk and CoinTelegraph. Victoria helps Bitcoin businesses with community development and marketing.