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News

Video: Meet B-340 and B-341, The Santa Monica Mountains' Newest Bobcat Kittens

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Earlier this spring, wildlife ecologist and unofficial "bobcat biologist" Joanne Moriarty saw something familiar happening with the movements of Bobcat-339.

Bobcats are relatively peripatetic creatures, moving to several different locations in the Santa Monica Mountains during the day and night, but GPS data showed that 339 was "denning," or repeatedly coming back to the same place. Bobcats typically "den" after they've given birth, returning to take care of their baby bobcats. Moriarty went to investigate, and—lo and behold—bobcat kittens!

"It was sort of like finding a needle in a haystack," Moriarty told LAist. The data from 339's GPS movements helped them pinpoint an approximate location, and from there the scientists looked for woodrat nests, which are apparently the Airbnb of bobcat dens (sorry, woodrats).

Ultimately, they found a deep woodrat nest, where they could hear, but not see what they thought to be the bobcat kittens. The enterprising ecologists of the Santa Monica Mountains then attached a GoPro to a selfie stick and stuck it into the nest, at which point their suspicions were confirmed. Welcome to the world, B-340 and B-341!Why are we telling you all this? According to no less a source than the once-formidable New York Times, cat pictures are the "essential building block of the Internet."

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In 2015, Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at Indiana University who researches media’s emotional effects, dipped her toes into the “understudied” field of “online cat media.” In a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Myrick recruited 7,000 volunteers for a lengthy questionnaire about their online cat video consumption, and found that "people reported feeling more energetic, more happy and less stressed after watching a video of a cat," according to the Washington Post.

After discovering the two baby brother bobcats, Moriarty and her team took samples and measurements, placed tracking ear tags, returned them to their den, and set up a camera trap monitor to await their mother's return. To borrow parlance from our friends at Upworthy, you'll never guess what happens next!

We won't ruin the ending for you, but according to Myrick's cat video study, “viewing Internet cats may actually function as a form of digital pet therapy and/or stress relief for Internet users.” Spoiler alert: it's possible that watching this video might make you happy for once in your life! Who knows, anything can happen on the internet.

In other news, bobcats are a species of wild cat roughly twice the size of a regular, non-wild cat. California's Fish and Game Commission banned commercial bobcat trapping in 2015. Bobcats remain the most widely-distributed wild cat in North America.

According to Moriarty, bobcats are really not a danger to human safety, and the only incidents of bobcats ever attacking a human "are in other states where they still have rabies, so they were rabid bobcats." We are rapidly running out of water, our schools are a mess, and our prison system is practically criminal, but at least California has eradicated bobcat rabies.

According to Myrick, cat videos have “more views-per-video than any other category of YouTube content.”