lolcats: threat or menace?

Let’s assume you don’t spend as much time on the internet as I do.  You may have never encountered the wild animal that calls the internet home. The seemingly gentle but veracious beast of the genus lolcat.

Found in copious numbers in the vast and expanding habitats of the internet, the lolcats are far from endangered.  Curiously, while they have descendants, in the form of loldogs, lolwalruses and even lolbrarians, the lolcat has no known antecedents. And while they breed like viruses, they are never found outside of the internet.

What is a lolcat?  A thing so simple that its dominance in its ecology is hard to fathom. It’s a picture of a domestic cat.  With a caption.

There are conventions:

The cats often, but not always, have a funny expression on their face. They may be – but are not necessarily – in an unusual or compromising position. They may also be flying through the air or climbing up some household item.

So far, so mundane. What makes a lolcat different from your spinster Aunt’s Christmas card is the captions. These are tightly prescribed, by pure convention. The captions are a unique blend of illiteracy, baby talk and text speak. Why? Because it is in the lolcat DNA. I was startled to learn that the illiteracy conforms to strict rules. Shocked linguists have written on the hybrid rules of grammar and spelling that have evolved with lolcats.

A startling proportion of lolcats have captions of the following forms:

1. “I can haz cheezburger?”
2. “Do not want.”
3. “Basement cat iz …”

Never in internet history have so many lolcats owed so much to so few captions.

Lolcats are, like so many of the good bits of the internet, user-generated. That means there are some crap ones. To avoid, use these: link link

A warning: lolcats have powers over time. You start flicking through a throng of lolcats, and before you know it, you’ve spent two more hours of your life on the internet version of white bread with chocolate sprinkles. You’ve had the time of your life. But you hate yourself. Why, you ask, are my tastes so puerile? Am I a child? You strive to reform. Then you fail. Lolcats create self-conflict.

The emptiness of the pleasure of looking at funny things on the internet is the driving force of the following site: I do not recommend it if you are, you know, busy. Enjoy!

Published by


Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

One thought on “lolcats: threat or menace?”

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s