The Internet seems to have been invented for cats to show off. Cats are custom-made for funny, sweet or surprising videos that are shared among friends initially, but find an audience of millions seeking a quick smile, feline-style. Cats are natural comics, because they don't try to be funny and won't juice their action just for the camera --- they're the ultimate professional performers. The technological ease of capturing your cat on video, coupled with cats' popularity, may have prompted you to seek fame for your kitty's antics. With a virtual traffic jam of kitty videos, how can you stand out from the crowd? We've got five ways, plus links to some amazing cat videos.
5: Cruise the Competition
Even if your cat enjoys taking a swim in the bathtub, that just cannot top a scuba-diving cat. You could easily spend a month viewing the stylings of other cats online. Randomly sample the quirky ones, the performers or the newsmakers so you'll know what's getting all the hits; then see if your cat can fill a gap. Visit PetTube.com, which offers only pet videos, as well as the better-known YouTube.com, to see thousands of cats in action.
The owners of Nora, the globally famous Philadelphia tabby whose skill at the piano still mesmerizes viewers several years after her first YouTube appearance, say they kept expecting to see other piano-playing felines on video after Nora went viral, but few have popped up. If your cat is musically inclined, whether on keyboard, drums or strings, let her play a mini-concert for the masses and get noticed.
For a feline take on modern art, offer her cat-safe paint supplies and watch what happens. Or let her view other online videos and record as she shows interest or scorn -- a TV critic with real claws.
4: Focus on Your Cat's Special Talent
Can your cat unravel a roll of toilet paper in record time, or weed through your laundry basket to retrieve a sock? Does she meow animatedly as she high-fives herself in a mirror, or balance on the seat of your exercise bike? Whatever her specialty, give her free rein as you hit the record button. Her inclination to do what she enjoys best will enhance the spontaneity and charm of her action. Encourage her to perform with praise and a treat, and she'll proudly do it again.
My father's muscular calico Sandy could leap from the floor to the top of the refrigerator in one jump. Reaching her perch, she would knock cereal boxes to the ground. Instead of scolding her or blocking her way, Dad turned it into a stunt on command by removing all but one box. Whenever Sandy scaled the fridge, he'd say, "Sandy, can you please get the Wheaties?" as she sent the box sailing. That would look cute on video.
3. Play up That Quirky/Adorable Feature
A gray Illinois cat named Yoda who appears to have four ears is an Internet favorite. His extra ear flaps resemble headgear, and with his expression of wonderment, Yoda looks like an intergalactic feline. Cats with striking markings or features are always eye-catching. If yours has patches shaped like continents, or Mickey Mouse, spotlight her unique coat. Or focus on his exceptionally long whiskers that look like a catfish's, or his super-sized plume of a tail. And yes, fat cats count, too: A tubby tabby seated in that Barcalounger or stretched out full length to show his girth will get hit after hit.
If your cat makes a special sound like a funny meow or a sing-song noise, or has a great purr, play up his quirk. Smokey, the British cat whose purr was measured at more than 67 decibels -- louder than a landing plane -- recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest purr by a domestic cat.
2: Create a Fun Storyline
Play producer and director by putting your cat in costume (Red Riding Hood, Shrek, an Easter bunny or Santa's helper) and enticing her to take action, starring in a fresh take on a familiar tale or a seasonal vignette. Or provide some tissue paper and a few fake boxes, letting her take the role of package wrapper. Surround her with stacks of books or CDs and make her a librarian or disc jockey. If you've seen the YouTube video of the cat at the filing cabinet, adopt your own workplace theme. Set your cat amidst file folders, paper and pens (capped to prevent ink stains or spurts), add a few government forms (printed from irs.gov) and let her depict a harried accountant at tax time. Whatever scripted activity you plan, your cat will improvise her own zany twist.
1: Spotlight Adorability
Sleeping or playing, kittens are huge Internet draws. If you've got one or several, their very presence invites the "awwwww" factor. Record them nestling together in a basket, napping in a bundle next to mom-cat, or tumbling with each other. That white and gray kitten blissfully playing the air harp with his tiny paws is irresistible even without the added music.
If your cat is an adult, you can still play up her adorability as she purrs contentedly or meows directly to the camera, as if offering play-by-play. Position her with a couple of teddy bears, a plush stuffed cat that matches her coloring, or a cuddly toy puppy.
Whatever your cat's talent or trick, her comfort and safety come first. Encouraging your cat to do something risky such as diving into a toilet bowl or getting her head stuck in a hamster ball, just to get laughs from anonymous viewers, is irresponsible and can harm your cat. Instead, let her own disposition and antics make her a shining star on the Internet or in your heart.