Before humans took pictures of cats, added funny captions, and spent their free time viewing said photos on the internet, our early ancestors enjoyed painting depictions of dogs. These early LOLDog paintings lacked captions and are much rarer than LOLCats—which is probably why the painting to the left fetched $66,000 at an auction last night. Click for more early LOLDog analysis, and their evolution into the LOLCats we know and love today.
This 19th-century painting of foxhounds in repose, probably after a hunt, is an early take on the "basket of kittens" motif. It is by John Emms, titled "Foxhounds and a Hunt Terrier on a Bench." Note the themes: multiple domesticated animals lying around looking cute.
Around the turn of the century, cats were deemed cuter than dogs—possibly a response to a more industrialized society where dogs were not as necesssary.
Eventually, this theme evolved (or devolved, depending how you look at it) into the LOLCats we know and love today.