At Gothamist, we—okay, maybe, I—spend a lot of time thinking about cats. They might be bodega cats, cats strolling onto a subway car, cats who need furever homes, cats stopping subway traffic, cats stuck in a sewer grate, cats who are big-boned, cats stuck in a car engine—the list is endless. But why are we—and I speak of over 42 million estimated cat owners in the United States—so obsessed? Well, it's because our brain tells us so.

The new NOVA documentary, Cat Tales, explores the science behind why cats have captured this place in our hearts and minds and Instagram accounts. Morten Kringelbach, a professor of neuroscience at Oxford University, found that the sound of a baby crying taps into the frontal orbital cortex of the brain, kickstarting a reaction in adults before they consciously identify that it is a baby crying. While an adult's cries do not elicit the same kind of involuntary response, there's another sound that prompts that instinct: A cat's meow.

"There seems to be striking similarities between the way we process cat meowing and that of baby crying... suggesting this is something we need to take care of," Kringelbach explains in Cat Tales. "Meowing in adult cats is really interesting because it turns out they only really do it to humans."

The narrator notes, "It’s as if [cats] are hijacking our emotional responses to make us love and care for them." But Kringelbach says cats aren't necessarily conscious of that. "They just know this works, the same way we know smiling at our parents works."

The documentary, which also looks how why cats don't frown the way dogs or humans do (hint: it's their musculature, not because they are jerks... although sometimes they might be jerks); how they became domestic; why we have orange cats; why they like perching in weird places; and how to train cats airs on Wednesday, February 19, at 9 p.m. on PBS.

Yes, there's also an accompanying documentary, Dog Tales, at 8 p.m.—dogs are great and all (a cat would NEVER stand for this), but maybe Jack Byrnes put it best:

Disclosure: I am the human to three cats. In return for my eternal devotion, they "allow" me to dress them up: