CULTURE BUZZCats. They are why we do what we do — why we continue to persevere in the face of a fearful present and an uncertain future. But they are so much more than just the unheralded inspiration for our greatest accomplishments — for instance, they are also furry and they roll around on the floor a lot. Let's take a look back at the most important ones from this year.
Kitten: "Sadness is not a temporary affliction to be shrugged off and discarded. It is a mode of being; a way of life; a heaviness on the soul that can never be lifted because its weight is the weight of existence itself."
You: "JESUS CHRIST LIGHTEN UP YOU ARE A KITTEN."
29: Glass-Of-Water Cat
We have all had the experience of wanting something so badly but not being able to fit our furry little noses far enough into it to reach, but never before has that feeling been made so vividly real as in this masterful performance by Glass-Of-Water Cat.
28: The Chillest Cat Ever
Is relaxing still relaxing if relaxing is your job? The chillest cat ever knows the answer to that particular koan, but she is too relaxed right now to give it to you.
In the great awkward family that is The United States Of America, this cat is the small but persistent voice of reason that whispers, ever so quietly, "what in the name of fuck are you people doing?"
26: Cats Trying To Understand A Treadmill
The Russian Romantic writer Mikhail Lermontov once said, "We almost always forgive what we can understand," which just goes to show that the Russian Romantic writer Mikhail Lermontov was writing in a time before treadmills and that he was clearly not a cat.
In a world full of secrets and lies, the cats of Cat Scans said, for all who dared to listen, "Behold: I am a cat. Look at my underbelly, and how my feet squish into my fur. I have nothing to hide."
24: Inception Cat
This is the way the world ends - not with a bang, but with a cat who is hugging a cat who is hugging another cat.
23: The Cat Who Played With The Dolphins
To reach across the vast gulf that exists between one's own being and that of another and say not, "This is alien to me; I reject it," but instead "Holy shit, I am going to rub that dolphin's nose with my face!" requires bravery, vision, and wisdom that is rarely seen in a tabby cat.
Love is a process of identification, and the wider the breach between two souls, the greater their love must be in order to gap it. It is therefore axiomatic that of all the many forms of love that take root in this wide world, there is no love more powerful than the love that exists between a cat and his terrifying oversized remote control spider.
"Before you pass judgement, ask yourselves this: Which one of you would not take arms against the tide of a brutal determinism to keep your essence in its rightful place? Are you truly prepared to abandon yourself to the chaos of a random universe and allow your life's potatoes to be dispersed without a fight?"
It is often said that when you look deep into someone's eyes you can catch a glimpse of their very soul - though this is harder to do when they are a very silly little guy who should not be sitting like that!!
16: Perfect Comedy Timing Cat
"If we cannot learn to laugh at ourselves, then every stolen sardine will be a tragedy."
In May, this video was revealed to the world and the world caught its collective breath and said, with one unified voice, "OK, sure! Cute! I will put it on Facebook."
13: Printer Cat
While the rest of us spent another year studiously avoiding our fear of the infinite, Printer Cat had the courage to stare directly into the encompassing void - and the wisdom to back as quickly as possible away from it when something came out.
"And Mittens was left alone; and there wrestled a cat with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he mewed pitifully but he did not let go until the dawn cast a flickering light upon the ground, which distracted him and he completely forgot what he was doing because he is just a kitten."
This year Voldemort Cat taught us that just because you are determined to embrace the darkest parts of your twisted soul and transform the world into a vale of fear and misery doesn't mean that you don't need a hug sometimes.
2011 will be remembered as the year when we were all briefly obsessed with a rainbow-surfing cat with a poptart body. Which in the scheme of things there are probably worse things to be remembered for? But also, that was weird, right?
From Guilty Cat we learned that every joy has an attendant sadness and that the fleeting moment of ecstasy attendant upon knocking over the plants is but a waystation along the endless, painful road of atonement.
And finally, Shironeko, who first appeared in our lives last year, took his innovative, inspirational, and, frankly, revolutionary brand of relaxation to new heights throughout 2011 - a year which, like all the years of his life thus far, left him utterly unfazed.