MINNEAPOLIS — Warning: This is a story about online cat videos. If you’re among the seemingly tiny minority of the general population not interested in viewing a one-minute clip of a cat in a T-shirt pounding on a keyboard, move along.
For everyone else, a new measure of respectability has arrived for an Internet pleasure that is both massively popular and, for some people, a bit embarrassing. The Walker Art Center, a well-regarded museum of modern art in Minneapolis, on Thursday presented its first Internet Cat Video Film Festival to showcase the best in filmed feline high jinks.
With more than 70 videos, the Walker mounted a social experiment as much as a film festival. At issue was whether cat video lovers used to gorging on the clips in the privacy of their homes would do so in public — an online community of fellow aficionados interacting face to face for the first time.
‘‘It is a cultural phenomenon that raises some interesting questions,’’ said Katie Hill, the Walker program associate who first suggested the festival.
But Hill, a self-described ‘‘art historian and cat lady,’’ was quick to add: ‘‘I’m not a behavioral psychologist, I’m not a sociologist. I just think they’re funny and cute, and I think a lot of other people do, too.’’
The numbers bear it out. Some of the classics of the form have racked up tens of millions of YouTube page views. The aforementioned ‘‘Keyboard Cat’’ has posted 26.3 million views since it was posted in 2007. A 30-second clip titled ‘‘Very Angry Cat’’ — can you guess the plot? — has 78.6 million views since 2006.
‘‘Some you just watch over and over and over again,’’ said Angie Bailey, a cat blogger and owner from Chisago City, Minn., covering the film festival for the website Catster.com. ‘‘When you want to laugh and feel good, it’s sort of an escape from what happens in the real world.’’
Most cat videos are simple: A cat tries and fails to jump into a cardboard box, or makes a ridiculously cute noise while eating a spoonful of sour cream. Some are more cinematic, with tricky angles, animated graphics, mood music, and other tricks of the filmmaking trade.
Organizers of Thursday night’s festival said they wanted to find out whether the private experience of viewing the videos online would translate to a shared and social experience when shown on an outdoor screen on the museum’s grounds. More than 10,000 people attended, according to the museum.
The festival made room for various kinds of cat videos, with categories for comedy, drama, foreign, animated, musical, art-house, and documentary.
Walker programmers got about 10,000 submissions for the festival after initially expecting several hundred. They whittled that down to the selection of videos shown on the screen.
The people’s choice award, the “Golden Kitty,” went to Will Braden, creator of “Henri 2, Paw de Deux.” Online votes will be tallied for the ‘‘Best in Show’’ award, to be announced on Sept. 7.