You know it's true. You say you are sick of the cat pictures, enough with the cute. But then this happens:
And ok, maybe you didn't star it, or retweet, or retumbl - but you know you looked and somewhere deep inside your heart there was a sound like, "Awwwwww..."
Of course, no one's suggesting you should cut and paste cute kitten pictures into your college essays and journal articles. (Though it would be awfully interesting to see what happened if you could work in an achingly adorable kitty as an invisible, subliminal, watermark. I'm betting instant A.)
In essay terms, the kitten is that one moment the reader can't resist. There only has to be one. And given that you might be writing about vectors that spread the Ebola virus, or experimentation on humans during the Holocaust, you have to think a little flexibly - the kitten is not always going to be cute. But compelling. One sentence where you let a thought fly that's particularly intense or emotional. Where you let yourself reach for poetic language - or work in a tasteful, appropriate burst of wit.
Make sure you locate it strategically, in the introduction or conclusion, or right after a bolded subheading. We all know that instructors skim, just like everyone, and you don't want it to be missed.
But a kitten always helps.