Can cute kitties sell books? I have begun to wonder that since there has been so much buzz lately about the millions of people who enjoy watching cute kitty videos and sharing funny cat photos online. Researchers in Japan (where cuteness is king) have even undertaken a study to demonstrate that indulging in such cuteness actually improves the productivity of office workers. Another study set out to provide evidence for the phenomenon of “cuteness aggression,” which accounts for why little old ladies want to pinch the cheeks of adorable children and internet-browsing office workers find cute kitties so adorable that they want to eat them or squeeze them. Apparently, we feel such intensity that we need some kind of physical release. Some people, such as blogger Myrna Minx of The Spinsterhood Diaries, consciously turn to kitties as a form of stress relief. Research, anecdotal evidence, and my own experience all suggest there may be some as yet untapped potential in the power of kitty cuteness.
Because I work from home, I get to spend much of my time in the company of two cute kitties, Basil and Percy. It’s probably more accurate to call them cute cats because they had their first birthday in October, but they will always be kitties to me. Here is a photo of Basil sleeping, which is how he spends much of his time. It’s a cute picture, but is it cute enough to sell books? I’m hesitant about asserting such a claim, but feline leisure does promote human leisure, and reading requires some leisure, even if that leisure consists of a metro ride with book in hand or some other stolen moment for reading.
Because of their cuteness, Basil and Percy are capable of forcing me to take breaks from my work by climbing into my lap and nudging away my laptop when I am doing email or other work from the couch. Sometimes, I twist my body to type away at the laptop beside me or juggle it on my knee, but at other times, I abandon the laptop and pick up a book. It rarely takes long for Basil to fall asleep on my lap. There is perhaps nothing more relaxing and gratifying than reading an absorbing novel while petting an adorable sleeping, purring kitty. And occasionally, I release a little surge of cuteness aggression by planting a kiss on that pink triangle of a nose. Even if I have to stay up late at night sometimes to finish my work, it’s worth it to have such a charming distraction, and the dose of kitty cuteness probably does boost my productivity.
I’d like to use Basil to sell books (any books, including library books) simply by pointing to his example of leisure as a call to action—or inaction. Read and relax. And if you have a kitty to keep you company, then you should know that it’s even easier to read and pet simultaneously if your book is an ebook, easily held with one hand. If you think you don’t have the time to read, try making the time, even if it means cutting out other forms of entertainment (TV, social media, etc.). It will probably make you happier than most other diversions do—especially if you have a cat. Your cat will thank you and so will all those cat-loving writers who want to be read.