Instagram’s obsession with animals

I don’t use Instagram much, but through a friend I discovered that apparently there’s a whole hashtag just dedicated to specific dog breeds— in this case, a Mudi, but there are tons of others. This got me thinking about how often people make separate social media accounts for their animals. This happens across most of the main platforms (ie Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and I’m sure Snapchat as well, though I’ve never seen it myself), so it made me think… just how popular are these accounts?

In 2013, CBS news posted an article about the business of “catvertizing“, aka the business of publishing cat related content on the web. According to Friskies in 2013, 15% of all internet traffic is made up of cat content. This is astounding. To put it in a little bit of perspective, according to another 2013 study done by porn website Paint Battle, 30% of all internet data is comprised of porn; this means porn sites get more traffic than Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon combined. So, for cats to have exactly half the amount of attention porn gets… well, that’s nothing to turn your tail at.

Animal related content is everywhere, so I stuck to Instagram and looked up some of the most popular cat specific accounts. I made a small list of five that caught my eye:

  1. pudgethecat: This squishy faced feline has 669k followers, and you can buy nail decals with her face on them in her store (the store website is currently down, but I’m sure they’re hilarious)
  2. iamlilbub: Bub has almost 2 million followers on Instagram. Her store has made over 300k in funds for the ASPCA since 2012 and raises awareness for special needs animals
  3. nala_cat: Stubby legs and big blue eyes go a long way. Nala has 3.5 million followers. Her whole story is colour illustrated on her store website
  4. princessmonstertruck: This fluffy baby attracted attention because of her very strange teeth. She’s got 284k followers and all I can say is seriously… please look at this cat
  5. realgrumpycat: Of course, I had to include the biggest kitty internet sensation that I know of, Tardar Sauce. Yes, her real name is Tardar Sauce. She has 2.4 million followers on Insta, has appeared on TV (Anderson Cooper held her once), plus her face is on t-shirts in Hot Topic

I know that cats are said to be terrific therapy animals— their purrs alone can help prevent anxiety attacks, and being near them produces a ton of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, which all helps uplift moods— but what does a person gain from seeing a cat, or another animal, on the internet?

The most obvious one is probably that seeing animals is a good break from all the harshness and terrible stuff going on in the world. People could feel the same sense of calm as when someone is actually around a real cat, especially if a person can’t actually have an animal for one reason or another.

Another reason is that they help out rescue shelters and organizations, so they’re great for advertising for more seemingly moral reasons than just personal profit. Not only to raise awareness in shelters, but to raise mental health awareness as well. Molly Prottas, the owner of a rabbit named Wally, said she’s very passionate about social work so she creates a person for her rabbit that is in tune with his emotions. She tries to show people that it’s okay to feel sad, to seek out help, and to get better. Molly runs an advice column for struggling adults, too, and she speaks to them through Wally’s persona. Pretty neat stuff.

From what I’ve seen, most pet owners don’t even expect the fame (if they’re not already famous, that is). They just love their pets. To think someone’s regular ol’ cat could bring about real inspiration, happiness, and good health to others is pretty incredible. Personally, I’m pretty glad Instagram has been overrun with animals, and I’m specifically grateful for the kitty accounts.

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