Thanks to a recent discussion of cinema and history by filmmaker Martin Scorsese, I learned that the gigantic presence of cat videos on the Internet has origins dating back to the days of Thomas Edison and vaudeville.
The feline fascinations still perplexes me however. Perhaps the recording and sharing of pet hijinks point to a simple truth: We humans spend many hours playing with our pets in pursuit of utter cuteness.
Records indicate that in mid-July of 1894, filmmakers employed at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park, N.J. studio filmed a vaudeville act of Professor Welton's Boxing Cats. A 20-second silent movie clip shows Prof. Welton hoisting a pair of wee boxing glove wearing cats via harnesses and slamming them together to make it appear that the cats are boxing in a tiny boxing ring.
Animal acts were a staple of the vaudeville circuit, with dancing dogs and other often painfully exploited critters. Note for instance Edison's decision to film an elephant being electrocuted in an act of sheer cruelty.
Anyway - cats boxing each other in the year 1894.