It was one of those cute little GIFs that went viral, in the way that cute little GIFs often do. A tiny little tortoiseshell kitten sneezing. Aaahhhhh – chooooooo!!! The exertion knocks him backwards and over he rolls onto his fluffy little butt.
Very cute. Downright adorable. Who could failed to be charmed?
Social media couldn’t get enough of it: ‘Guess why I’m off work today?’ followed by the kitten GIF.
‘I feel so…’ followed by the GIF.
‘I just can’t stop…’: GIF.
And on it went.
Ironically, the GIF happened to be the first recorded instance of a new and frighteningly virulent strain of feline influenza. Within a matter of days it had mutated and spread to humans. It had grown into a pandemic before the scientists connected the two, people and cats dropping like flies across the world. Never to arise again. No time to discover a cure, to invent a vaccine.
A lot of people had the ‘flu A lot of people were out of work.
The GIF grew even more popular for a time.
Then social media grew more and more silent. Tweet by tweet. Facebook update by Facebook update.
Until finally it ceased forever.