Wednesday 20 June 2018

How this cat website harnesses feline power to bring attention to world news

If you can’t get enough of cats but want more news, then there may now be an answer.

Cats mocked up as international news figures (NewsByCats.com)
Cats mocked up as international news figures (NewsByCats.com)

By Nicola Irwin, Press Association

Cats have been ruling the internet for as long as anyone can remember, and now a scientist is harnessing online’s love of all things feline to bring attention to world news.

Justinas Butkus has created News By Cats which adds a moggy element to stories making the headlines.

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News by Cat's take on Donald Trump v Department of Justice (NewsByCats.com)

The 27-year-old, who currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand, came up with the idea just as he completed his PhD in physics.

“I realised how detached from the real world events I was. Instead of spending the little free time I had for news I preferred fun and silly content such as cat memes,” he told Press Association.

Melissa And Joey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

“Internet cats are great for entertainment and holding our interest so why can’t we employ them for useful things like keeping up with what’s going on in the world?!”

Headlines have included: “Melania Trump in hospital: undergoes kidney opurration” and “US Geological Survey raises Hawaii’s volcano alert: prepurr for major eruption.”

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NewsByCats' take on Chine and US trade talks (NewsByCats.com)

In the week since the website launched the reaction has been mixed.

“It’s been like that of Marmite,” Justinas joked. “People see it and either think it’s glorious or they despise it. Probably unsurprisingly a lot of negative comments come from dog lovers. They think cats are not all that great and entertaining but clearly, they are wrong.”

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NewsByCats' take on Nasa's Freshwater mission (NewsByCats.com)

Justinas is originally from Lithuania but has travelled with his academic career. He spent four years at the University of Hull where he completed his masters in physics.

For all News By Cats is a side project, “catifying” can take Justinas between an hour and two each day with the site’s science and tech stories closest to his heart.

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News By Cats gives its unique take on The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (NewsbyCats.com)

Justinas is also behind a Kickstarter campaign to help get the site up and running.

He wants to raise NZ $300 (about £152) to pay web developers to introduce a few extra features, and help cover the cost of website hosting.

If the funding drive isn’t successful, he’ll still push ahead with NewsByCats.com but scale back plans for additional features.

Press Association

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