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WASHINGTON (CAP) - A sizable majority of the Internet is taken up by pictures of cats, according to a new study out of the Pew Research Center.
"Cats have always taken up at least half the Internet, but they've really pulled away in this study," said Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Center, who noted that when the center conducted a similar survey in 2009, pictures of cats led videos of people injuring themselves by only a relatively small 18 percent margin.
"Now nobody's within 30 points of the cats," he said.
The study breaks down the pictures of cats into the following categories:
2) Fat cats;
3) Cats canoodling with other animals (dogs, mice, babies, other cats, ferrets, etc.);
4) Cats wearing clothes (mostly hats);
5) Cats wielding lightsabers;
6) That cat with the lime peel on its head;
7) Catwoman (NSFW).
"The bandwith required for the kittens and fat cats alone is greater than that taken up by Amazon, Google and the Pentagon combined," said Spitznagel, who noted that it took researchers more than a year to compile the information. "Although we were able to carry over much of the Catwoman data from our study of superheroine breast size," he noted.
Pew researchers were hard pressed to explain the feline photo surge, but Stanford University economist Wendall Wuffie says the state of the economy could be the cause, in much the same way the economic collapse of fall 2008 led to a run on cardboard turkeys.
"During tough times, people turn to stress relievers that make them feel more relaxed despite an uncertain future," said Wuffie. "And what makes people feel more relaxed than a picture of a soft, fluffy, happy kitty?
"Aside from all the porn, I mean," he added.
Pornography, always popular on the Web, actually fell from third to eighth on the list in the latest survey, however. In addition to pictures of cats and videos of people injuring themselves, porn took a back seat to:
- Videos of babies talking to each other
- Videogame cheats
- Rebecca Black's Friday video
- Spoofs of Rebecca Black's Friday video
- Bomb-making instructions
"We definitely expected pornography to finish higher," admitted Spitznagel. "It just goes to show you that the personal habits of our researchers don't necessarily reflect those of society in general.
"And if you worked with some of these guys, you'd know what a good thing that is," he added.
Numbers nine through 20 on the list all featured some combination of dogs and/or other animals; wedding mishaps; smiling and/or crying children; Star Wars fan films; squirrels inserted digitally into other photos; and opinions about President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
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