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Video Digest: April 6, 2007

The bestest-ever cutest animal videos: Nora, the Piano-Playing Cat; Kissing Puppies; Otters Holding Hands; Hamster With Cookie; Monkey Skating; Talking Pug; The Sleepy Kittens; Skidboot, the Amazing Dog; Talking Cats; Knut the Baby Polar Bear

I used to think I would die from some relatively ordinary cause: heart attack, cancer, falling down the stairs in platform heels. It has now become clear that the icy fingers of death will be more like furry paws. Death by adorable animal video? It could happen.

But which is the most lethally cute animal video? Who boasts the perfect storm of antics, narrative, kitschy music selection, and whiskerage? And how do these bad babies stack up against each other? This is the first in a new series of monthly Video Digest awards: Can the piano-playing cat compete against the otters holding hands? Will the sleepy kitten pwn the talking dog? Here are the web’s best animal hijinks videos in order of their adorable ability to slay you cold.

10. Nora, the Piano-Playing Cat

I’m sorry, Nora, but you’re going to have to bring more to the table than a crappy Philip Glass song to win this contest. On the bright side, the Stanley Kubrick foundaton would like to speak to you about scoring the Criterion Collection DVD of Eyes Wide Shut.

9. Kissing Puppies

Like most orgies, this one went on far too long, and one puppy probably left in tears. But it’s hot and heavy for a while, and John Cameron Mitchell just got a brilliant idea about a canine adaptation of Shortbus.

8. Otters Holding Hands

Let’s be honest here. The otters aren’t really holding hands. They’re smearing excrement on each other, or they’re smooshing a raw fish between their paws, or they’re snared together with one of those plastic Coke rings. They’re dying in some inscrutable way, and we just think they’re so in love. But it does look cute! Still, otters need to step it up if they want to stay in this competition.

7. Hamster With Cookie

This spinning hamster trying to get a cookie is like the Mike Myers joke of animal videos; it gets better and better as it keeps beating the same dead horse. Isn’t this joke going to end? No, it isn’t. Shouldn’t this joke get worse? Yes, it should. Somehow, the spinning hamster defies expectations, hitting his stride after 28 seconds.

6. Monkey Skating

On a technical side, this video is crap. It has no production value, no narrative, and it’s shot like the Blair Witch Project on a cell phone. But this monkey brings it. Monkeys can do anything. Apparently, they can even become members of Fall Out Boy and headline the Vans Warped Tour.

5. Talking Pug

Hell, I’ve dated grown men who couldn’t say “I love you.” This pug is blowing those dickweeds out of the water.

4. The Sleepy Kittens

Why are there so many cats on this list? I blame Cute Overload. Also, I blame the cats. If it weren’t for their saucer eyes, their tiny little muzzlepuffs, their curiosity about the world and its excess of cardboard and flashing red lights, then there wouldn’t be so many innocent people keeling over from cuteness each year. Also, they are so sleepy. So sleepy! Hard to keep…eyes open…can’t finish…this sentezzzz…

3. Skidboot, the Amazing Dog

When I first saw the story of Skidboot, I cried. There is no shame in crying about Skidboot—who recently passed, by the way—because he is a noble beast who deserves our tears. (Crying about the sleepy kittens? You need Lexapro.) This clip comes from a show called Texas Country Reporter, which aired in the 80s on Sunday afternoons, prior to Solid Gold. It was the regional equivalent of Prairie Home Companion in its folksy earnestness. But every once in a while, TCR nailed a story. Skidboot, come home.

2. Talking Cats

It is impressive when a pug says “I love you.” When a cat sings an entire nonsense song in key, it is downright magical. I never knew how worthless and without talent my own cat was until I saw these talking kitties. That’s why I’m going to trade my cat to the gypsies later this week for a tabby who calls me “Mommy.”

1. Knut the Baby Polar Bear

Here it is: the cutest, deadliest animal video on the web. Surely you’ve seen it, or some version of it. (As Video Digest was going to press, the widely seen Best Week Ever version was pulled off iFilm. Foiled again!) It’s Knut, the controversial polar bear who’s being raised in a zoo after his mother abandoned him. So let’s move down our checklist: Compelling narrative? Check, complete with backstory. An increasing hilarity of antics? Yes: Marvel as he goes from cavorting on the bed to getting stuck in something that could be a blender to lifting a dumbbell with his teeth and waving. Check out the paws. Check out the fur. Check out the way he plays underneath the covers. Check out your pulse. Nothing? It was a good life.

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