Watching cat videos is why the Internet was invented, right? While catching up on Lil Bub’s latest upload may be one of the most popular uses for the web, it’s time to stop feeling guilty about it. You’re not procrastinating — you’re doing yourself a favor. A new study out by Indiana University researcher Jessica Myrick shows that watching cute videos of cats helps boost mood, lowers anxiety and can even increase productivity.
Researchers recorded the viewing patterns and reactions of over 7,000 participants and discovered that after people watched cat videos, “they were more energetic and felt more positive” and had “fewer negative emotions” than before they watched the kitty antics. They also reported fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching the vids.
It’s not just that cats are hilarious. When you take a break to enjoy a video, you get so much pleasure that it outweighs any guilt you might be feeling for procrastinating. “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 told Indiana University. Even people who don’t like cats can still laugh at a hilarious cat “fail” video. Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos.
Basically, science just proved what we all already know — watching cat videos definitely makes your day better. But now you can use science as an excuse when your boss busts you. Myrick envisions her research paving the way for cat videos to be used as “a form of low-cost pet therapy.” YouTube stats show that over two million cat videos were posted to YouTube in 2014, achieving close to 26 billion views.