Cat Makes Terminal Faster
Cat without arguments simply copies input to output. In this mode it doesn't do anything useful, and ought to just be overhead that makes things slower. Apparently not always.
$ time find real 0m7.907s user 0m0.176s sys 0m0.444s $ time find | cat real 0m3.936s user 0m0.060s sys 0m0.220s
Personally I'm running rxvt-unicode, and I know this can also be reproduced in xterm with fastScroll enabled. No other terminal emulator that I tested showed this behavior.
As for the cause of this, I have no idea. Even though it might only affect a few users, this actually works to my advantage. Thus, I will let this remain a mystery. Let's just agree that profiling can be difficult.