This company is betting millennials will pay $30 to sit in a club and watch cat videos

Key Points
  • Cat Videos Live! is a touring film event featuring high-definition cat videos.
  • Cat video events have drawn crowds of 10,000 to 15,000
Cat Videos Live! is a tour feline film event that brings high definition cat videos to a live audience.
Courtesy of Eric Dorris

Forget watching cat videos on the internet. Now they're coming live to a venue near you.

Cat Videos Live! is a touring two-hour feline high-definition film event featuring "exclusive" cat footage not previously uploaded online. Each event will have live commentary by comedienne Carla Rhodes.

The tour, which kicks off in October, aims hit 70 North American cities over the next year, according to organizers. Tickets will be about $30, with some proceeds going to Panthera, Houston no-kill animal shelter Friends 4 Life and a local animal organization in each city.

"First, nothing you see in the film is on YouTube," said production company Knitting Factory Presents president Mark Dinerstein. "It is all original. You've never seen it before. Second you're engaging in a fun social gathering. Whether you're going with your friends or not, you're engaging with your community."

It may seem like a zany idea, but Knitting Factory Presents believes pets — and in particular, cat videos — can be a big business. The company is known for producing live events, typically musical acts.

"This is a completely new take on what we've done in the past," Dinerstein said. "But everything is original. I wouldn't say the Knitting Factory focuses on cat tours, but we focus on what is in the zeitgeist."

The American Pet Products Association estimated Americans spent almost $63 billion on their pets and pet-related activities in 2016. And internet-famous cats have been proven to make money. The 2016 Internet Cat Video Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota was attended by more than 10,000 people. CatConLA in Los Angeles drew 15,000 people last year. Grumpy Cat earned a sponsorship from Friskies, not to mention her own merchandise and Lifetime movie "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever." Lil Bub has her own documentary, an Animal Planet special as well as a book.

"It's not a passing fad," said tour co-producer and filmmaker Eric Dorris. "People aren't going to wake up one day and say 'we don't like cats.'"

(Left to Right) Grumpy Cat owner Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat and Eric Dorris
Courtesy of Eric Dorris

Dorris -- who said he previously worked on film projects for drummer Rich Redmond and Todd Sucherman, drummer for STYX -- got the idea after "accumulating hours and hours of dynamically filmed cats" thanks to his two pets. He bought in 1999, pre-dating the viral cat boom.

The footage in the current edit of the film is from Dorris and hand-selected other contributors. In the future, Cat Videos Live! is developing its website and an app to allow people to submit their own original cat videos. Dorris and his team will pick top submissions and edit them into the film. He's betting pet owners and feline fans will love seeing cats on the big screen so much the tour will have indefinite footage for years to come.

"It's the only thing that really competes with porn online," said Dorris.