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Internet Memes: The lol cat

Updated on March 8, 2009
A lol cat even before there were lolcats
A lol cat even before there were lolcats
Happy Cat and his cheezeburger
Happy Cat and his cheezeburger
Caturday
Caturday

In the beginning there was ceiling cat!

Lolcats got their start sometime in 2005. As one of the more popular and accessible memes a lot has been said about them already, but I’d thought I’d give a quick overview about where they come from and what they mean.

Lolcats began circulating first amongst the big internet forums like Something Awful and the imageboards like 4chan. But it was 4chan which skyrocketed them to popularity through the institution of ‘Caturday.’ Every Saturday, it used to be common for users to post their favourite cat image macros, whether original or copied. Image macros are simply pictures with text overlain on top. Caturday was notable in 4chan because it was a departure from the typical bullying, internet vandalism, negativism and gore that the board is famous for. Anti-social internet nerds called a temporary truce in order to post cute pictures of fluffy animals saying silly things.

Sometime in 2006, lolcats, (not yet called that at this time) spread beyond 4chan and came to the attention of Eric Nakagawa, future founder of icanhascheezburger.com. He saw the eponymous picture of “Happycat” and his delight for cheeseburgers and laughed so hard he decided to make a website about it. The icanhascheezburger website first compiled some of the best funny cat photos out there, but then, notably, also included within it a function which allowed anybody to upload a picture of a cat and automatically add text to it. This feature took the creation of lolcats away from photoshop nerds and brought it within in the reach of the average, stay-at-home-mom. There's even a tutorial hub out there to teach people how to make lolcats. Thus commercialising and popularising the images, taking it out of the realm of simple internet meme, and into an actual, sustainable part of popular culture.

4chan, seeing their creation taken away (how does the old adage go: once things become popular, they stop being cool). They rejected the term “lol cat,” which is a Nakagawa-ism and resented their creation being used to make regular people happy. These days, Caturday is still in effect, but spoilsports will include pictures of dead cats as well, to ruin the fun, and subvert the meme.

As to the lolcat grammar, its generally a sort of pidgin English with a few variations. To speak the language, first, shorten words, then replace s’s with z’s. Do everything you can to misspell words. Throw away everything you know about subject verb agreement and viola: you can speak just like a cat. A more comprehensive guide can be found at the lolcat bible project

And the big question: which picture started the trend in the first place, no one really knows for sure. Happy cat with his cheeseburger is generally considered the first to have gained widespread recognition, and ceiling cat holds a special place in many hearts as being one of the first, funniest (and almost deified) figure in the lolcat movement. Of course the real first lolcat could be said to be one from the early 1900's postcards of Harry Whittier Frees featuring cats dressed up as people with captions below them. But nobody really thinks this.

Many lol cat enthusiasts amuse themselves by creating an imaginary mythos to help explain the world of cats and how it came about. Ceiling cat is God. Long cat is Jesus and Basement cat is the representation of the devil. Basement cat leads you into sin and Ceiling cat gives you redemption

To show how popular lolcats have become, they’ve even started making songs and videos of them. I don’t want to take sides in the “popularisation has ruined them” debate, but watching this video, I really don’t know. You have to watch it for yourself and judge whether its possible to take something like this too far. I like filk as much as the next guy but…

The offending video

The Best!

 And now, what you've all been waiting for, a little sampling of some of the lolcat macros I've saved over the years. These are my favourite. Please Enjoy

My personal favourite
My personal favourite
loldog
loldog
limecat
limecat
lolbear
lolbear
Longcat
Longcat
Street Fighter reference cat
Street Fighter reference cat
Star Wars Version
Star Wars Version

Comments

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    • profile image

      Anonymous 8 years ago

      u broke rules 1 and 2. u spoke of it.

    • JennyAtla profile image

      JennyAtla 8 years ago

      lol ive seen a lot of those already but they still funny....i love the hover cat one...hehe

    • Eternal Evolution profile image

      Eternal Evolution 9 years ago from kentucky

      I love lolcats ^-^

    • FreezepopMorality profile image
      Author

      FreezepopMorality 9 years ago

      Glad you all like them. Lolcats are just great.

    • profile image

      mirha494 9 years ago

      Haha, great images wit comments, love it, hahaha so great!

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 9 years ago from Cape Cod

      great...it's the cat's pajamas. Or are those my pajamas?

    • Scott757200 profile image

      Scott757200 9 years ago from Somewhere New Everyday!

      Love it! They always make me laugh!

    • FreezepopMorality profile image
      Author

      FreezepopMorality 9 years ago

      Thanks, Lifebydesign,

      I'm amazed at how friendly everyone is at hubpages. I read comments saying this, but I didn't really take it in.

      PS. I added a few more photos that I found hiding in an old folder. I can't believe I forgot those ones.

    • Lifebydesign profile image

      Lifebydesign 9 years ago from Australia

      I twittered your hub. Hope it gets traffic for you!

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 9 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      We love the lolcats! *family cats jump in here and say of course, cuz we be catz selfs*

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      OK.  That's funny.  Personally, I like the one above that.  That's how I feel sometimes.

      Yeah. Links are good.

    • ajcor profile image

      ajcor 9 years ago from NSW. Australia

      I find the cats are very funny but i had never heard of this underground internet social thing so that is fascinating...thanks and cheers

    • FreezepopMorality profile image
      Author

      FreezepopMorality 9 years ago

      ah, its at the very top of the article. Second picture from the top of the page. It's not with the others. I can see why it would be confusing.

      no problem. Links are good aren't they?

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      By the way, I may write on my blog about this stuff tonight, In which case I'll link to you. Let me know if it's a problem. I don't think it will be. Thanks.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      You have me stumped on the masturbation thing. I am missing the reference. I keep going back and looking at the pics (clear ceiling cat, cat extending paw from ceiling, and cat on ladder) and I just don't see this reference. Am I looking in the right place?

    • FreezepopMorality profile image
      Author

      FreezepopMorality 9 years ago

      hey, you don't find something funny, you don't find it funny. Everyone's got their own sense of humour. I've never particularly liked the comedy actor, Will Farrell, but his movies are nevertheless extremely popular.

      Lolcats though, just plain tickle me in my funny places. It's just cute cats doing cute things (or watching you masturbate). I particularly like the ceiling cat one not just because its shocking and weird, but it also subverts the idea on how religion frowns upon masturbation. ie. God is watching you doing unholy things and disapproving. Religion is much cuter when cats do it.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      Ok, I've seen this around. I have a blog on wordpress, and I was always seeing lolcats and icanhascheeseburger listed as blogs that get this huge amout of traffic, so I went to see what it was. As an outsider, seeing it for the first time and not understanding the internet meme thing (I understood about internet popularity and it's tremendous speed) and, frankly, I don't think it's funny. I seem to be in the minority here. It doesn't strike me as particularly creative, but perhaps it's just that I am not "In on the joke." Ditto the song. What seems stupid to me may be friggin genius to a lolcat.

    • FreezepopMorality profile image
      Author

      FreezepopMorality 9 years ago

      haha, don't praise me, I'm just the messenger. Thank all the funny people who made these wonderful images, whoever and wherever they are.

    • Lifebydesign profile image

      Lifebydesign 9 years ago from Australia

      This is brilliant, and funny. Loved it!

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