Silly kitties, like this one, are featured in this year's installment of the CatVideoFest, coming to Maine's silver screens this month. Credit: Courtesy of the CatVideoFest

PORTLAND, Maine — Quick-cut internet kitty clips are pure catnip to feline worshipers, worldwide. They never tire of cute antics caught on video perpetrated by various tabbies, calicos and tiger cats as they leap into boxes, swat each other in the kisser and then fail at even the most basic of leaps.

Starting this weekend, Mainers have the opportunity to watch more than an hour’s worth of such addictive, laugh-out-loud videos, together, in public, while also raising money for needy local animals in their own home state.

Three times a day, all weekend, the Portland Museum of Art is screening this year’s installment of the international CatVideoFest. The family-friendly compilation of feline-related hilarity gleaned from the internet includes animations, music videos and all manner of viral submissions showing cats doing the darndest things.

A portion of ticket proceeds from the PMA screenings are going to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

“Who doesn’t like a good cat video?” said Refuge League Executive Director Patsy Murphy. “They’re a form of stress relief.”

The film will also play twice at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta on Aug. 12. Ten percent of those ticket sales will get donated to Midcoast Humane in Brunswick.

On Aug. 13, the CatVideoFest film will move on to The Strand in Rockland where the theater will send 10 percent of ticket sales to Thomaston’s Pope Memorial Humane Society.

This year’s CatVideoFest trailer begins with two astronauts, on what looks like Mars, saying the thing they’ll miss most about Earth is — what else? — cat videos. The teaser then goes on to show a gray tiger with wide eyes and ears resembling bull horns. Then, a sassy calico struts by in a fabulous frock before pushing up its Joe Biden-style aviator sunglasses with a casual paw. Later, a cream-colored cat operates an irresistible laser pointer for another, obviously delighted, mouser.

The organization behind the annual CatVideoFest is a registered, special-purpose corporation based in Washington. According to its website, the fest raised over $50,000 for various local cat charities across the country with 200 screenings in 2019.

“We trust local people working on behalf of cats to know and understand the problems that need to be solved,” the site states.

The yearly CatVideoFest has been running, in several different forms, since 2013. Anyone wishing to submit their own video, or nominate someone else’s for future festivals, can do so at the festival’s website.

Portland’s Animal Refuge League has partnered with the museum for the CatVideoFest since before the pandemic, Murphy said. More than just a bit of fun, she said the films are an excellent way to raise money and awareness about the important work her organization is doing.

The Refuge League will have a table at the film fest all weekend where it will be spreading the word and signing up volunteers.

Murphy said she believes watching often-absurd, real-life cats, as well as cat videos, can be seriously good for human health.

“There’s a lot of positive emotions that come with watching cats and kittens,” she said. “We have a kitten room here and I’d love to have a kitten cam set up — its on my wish list for 2024.”

The CatVideoFest plays at the Portland Museum of Art on Friday at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.