Lolcats are as funny as their fans believe, but it's the sadness of this kitty sub-genre that makes them special, Jay Dixit writes in Salon. On Icanhascheezburger.com, which attracts millions of hits a month, lolcats yearn and comfort each other, inspiring a teary eye in us human visitors. There is even a genus of lolcat, lolruses, dedicated to tragedy. "But what is it about the lolruses and the sad lolcats," Dixit asks, "that is so gut-wrenching?"
New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff tells him it's all structural layering—the act of "getting the joke" makes us feel the kitties' sadness more. But Dixit sees another New Yorker parallel: the use of cute animals to represent human feelings. "By using cats, icanhascheezburger can access themes more tragic and poignant than it could using people," he writes. "And that's the real answer to the puzzle."