What is a Lolcat?
A lolcat is a funny picture of a cat with a caption. The lol refers to the internet acronym meaning “Laugh out Loud." 1 A lolcat typically consists of a picture of a cat, usually doing something funny or making a strange face and a caption. The caption usually has bad grammar. 2 These pictures can be found many places on the internet, but there are now sites that are dedicated exclusively to lolcats such as lolcats.com and ICanHasCheezburger.
The earliest signs of the lolcat meme originated on forums such as somethingawful, Fark, fazed, vwforums, gpforums, and most prominently, 4chan. 34 4chan hosted weekly “Caturdays” where people posted what would become lolcats every Saturday. 6 This trend is believed to have started sometime during 2005. 7
Lolcats gained popularity and are now featured on several sites including lolcats.com, icanhazcheesburger, and Cute Overload. Lolcats has even inspired trends within the lolcats trend such as the popular lolcats “fail” idea. b
Lolcats has also inspired several other memes such as loldog, lolrus, lolbrarians, lolbees, and lolpresidents. 9
Concerns for Parents
- While most lolcats are silly and amusing, some may refer to profanities or other material you may not find appropriate for your child.
- Lolcats are very cute, cuddly, and at times can seem addicting. It is easy to spend large amounts of time browsing these pictures on the Web.
- Some sites (such as lolcats.com) don't list a criteria for what they find inappropriate.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
Review the sites where your children are viewing lolcats. Some sites are more filtered than others, and some sites have different focuses. For instance, Cute Overload, a site inspired by lolcat type photos, has very specific focus and feel to their website. Cute Overload is very selective about the material that appears on the site and only accepts .02% of user submissions. 10
Lolcats captions have evolved from simply being funny or clever captions with “bad” grammar. The misspellings and strange grammar may seem unusual and completely random to someone unfamiliar with the trend, but there is often standardization within the captions. There is even a lolcat glossary. 11 Many people refer to this specialized cat language as lolspeak. 12 The idea of a kitty pidgin or cat dialect being used in online forums is not limited to lolcats alone. 13 Sites such as MeowChat, an online community where people create identities as their cats, also use a cat language. 14 One site has even undertaken the task of translating the bible into lolcat language, while another promotes the idea of a “lolcode” computer language. 15 16
Where Can I Learn More?
View a short video explaining Lolcats from knowyourmeme.com here.