How My Cat Video Got (Nearly) 2.5 Million Views on YouTube

In general, I live a very happy and calm life filled (mostly) with smiles and rainbows.

I have a wonderful husband, and am mom to a spirited toddler, a quirky Shar pei/Labrador mix named Newman, and a loving “dog-cat” we call Timber. We eat good food and drink nice wine. We have adventures at the mountains or the beach a couple weekends a year. We laugh a lot.

My Dark Past

But behind those smiles and rainbows is a dark past called Lucas. And, Lucas, my friends is the stuff of legends.

Lucas-In a Nutshell

Lucas was my first cat and he was temperamental from the start, ruling me with a fuzzy but iron fist. I had to turn my phone off in the middle of the night, for example, because if it rang and startled him from slumber, he would (no kidding) bite my throat as hard as possible—ears back in pointed tips of fury!

Despite his temper, however, I was a very loyal and dedicated cat mother who felt obligated to my furry ward. When I moved to Portland, I arranged for a window-lined apartment so he could run “security detail” on the outside world from the comfort of the warm living room. We spent hours each week playing cat fetch. He had fancy, expensive cat food to accommodate his very delicate internal eco-system. He was spoiled rotten.

The Attacks Begin

One day Lucas attacked—yes, attacked—me, requiring a visit to the hospital, a Tetanus shot and a police report. His “love” bite left a blue and purple, saucer-sized wound on my back that looked like something out of HBO’s vampire inspired series, “True Blood.”

The attack followed an OUTRAGEOUS attempt to shoo another cat in the house out of a brown, paper bag.

OUTRAGEOUS, I tell you.

He then attacked my husband as he awoke from a couch nap one evening, leaving an “L” shaped scar on his upper left arm. The “L” shaped scar was, perhaps, intentional to ensure a lifetime legacy of “L”ucas.

An attack next befell my uncle, though he was lucky enough to emerge unscathed, due to the thick jeans he wore that prevented Lucas’ devil teeth from making skin contact.

We put up with these “temper tantrums,” for several years not knowing what else we could do other than put him to sleep–something more than one vet suggested. When I got pregnant with Henry, we knew Lucas had to go. Aaron and I could put up with the outbursts but we knew a baby might not fare so well.

A New Life (for all of us)

Lo and behold, we found a willing mom and dad for Lucas in a summer intern who lived at our house, and her boyfriend. Like us, we knew Kelley and Jordan would love Lucas in spite of himself, but unlike us, Kelley and Jordan have no children for Lucas to eat. He now resides in a cozy apartment in Ontario, Oregon, with a devoted family who sends pictures every so often that simultaneously make me cringe and make me smile. He has ground-level windows to continue running security detail.

His Dark Legacy

But Lucas’ dark legacy doesn’t end at his exit from NE Portland—oh no, Lucas’ biggest legacy, is the above video of him taken during a routine visit to the vet’s office for something else outrageous—immunizations and a microchip.

To date, Lucas’ legacy video has received nearly 2.5 million views and has more than 6,000 comments.

Lessons Learned

I’ll be honest, I didn’t post this video with the hopes it would get even a million hits, ever yet 2.5 million. But, as I’ve watched the audience grow over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about videos that attract large audiences. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Content truly is king. This video is popular for one simple reason–it’s entertaining.
  2. Patience, grasshopper. This video has had a slow and steady growth over five years. I didn’t get 2.5 million hits overnight because almost no one actually does that! When you post videos to your nonprofit YouTube page, focus on the long game!
  3. Even seemingly insignificant controversies drive engagement. Some of my viewers think it’s mean to take a reluctant cat to the vet, others (like me), think it’s a responsibility. In the big scheme of things, the issue is fairly benign, but it brings people back over and over again to talk about my content and the issue it raises: vet or no vet.
  4. Cats rule (at least on the internet). I get it–you can’t throw a cat into your nonprofit content platform but you CAN and should figure out what is the “cat” of your target audiences? What symbol will get their attention and create conversation?

What lessons have you learned about getting views on your YouTube videos?

Jennie Day-Burget

Former Vice President and Managing Director Jennie Day-Burget is a lover of surprises, wine and chevron (the pattern, not the oil company). Jennie has worked in communications and public relations for more than a decade and cites the hashtag (#) as her favorite communications innovation.
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