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HTTP Status Cats are demotivational poster-style images of cats that are fittingly captioned with various HTTP status codes to mimic custom error pages used by websites.
HTTP status codes are a website’s way of responding to a server request made by a visitor. One of the most well-known status codes is 404, the code for “Not Found.” Other popular codes include 500, Internal Server Error or 503, Bad Gateway among others. The “HTTP status cats” project was started by tech blogger Tomomi Imura, known by her handle GirlieMac, who began uploading these posters to her Flickraccount on December 13th, 2011. Within a month, the set was viewed over 400,000 times.
However, parodies and humorous concepts based on the standardized status codes have been seen prior to this project, such as 4chan’s anthropomorphized 404 girl Yotsuba Koiwai and the 2011 Greek protest slogan “Error 404: Democracy Not Found.”
On December 14th, Imura’s Flickr set was shared on BoingBoing and Neatorama. The following day, they also appeared on Laughing Squid, CNN Money Tech, the Daily What Geek and Uproxx. Mashable published a set of the photos on December 17th. By December 21st, Imura set up a single-topic blog for the posters, posting them in sets according to the type of code. Three days later, the photos were shared on Buzzfeed.
An application programming interface (API) to make the error images appear as actual server responses was made available via cloud application platform Heroku. The link was posted to the programming subreddit, where it received 100 points.
Search for HTTP Status Cats peaked in December 2011 and has been on the decline.