Attention Social Petworkers!

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Attention social petworkers! Petworking is an internet activity where pet owners pretend to be their pet and make other pet friends online. The idea has been around for many years now and there are several online sites that cater to dogs, cats, horses and other pets. I’d like to explain a few of the personality types who use these sites and what people are looking for when using these sites. I also have some questions I hope the readers here can answer for me.

Social Petworkers

Social Petworkers

Petworkers aren’t just on Facebook, where we have to hide the identity of our pets from the Facebook police who threaten to erase pet profiles. There are many sites geared towards pets where the pets don’t face retribution for being a four-legger.

I’ve been into petworking for almost three years now. Mainly with Furby, because I wanted him to be a famous cat in the cat world. Furby has thousands of friends on one site, as well as over 2000 “likes” on his Furby the Feral Feline page on Facebook.

I have several reasons for “pretending” to be my cat or dog.

  • It’s entertaining to look at all of the cute photos
  • It’s FREE
  • I can promote my stories through these sites
  • Making friends with a common interest
  • Coming up with ideas for articles by reading pet bio’s

I’ve noticed a disturbing difference between the cat site where I have Furby and Sealy enrolled and the dog site where Cujo and Dreyfuss are new members. I joined a popular dog site a few days ago. It’s the number of friends the cats and dogs on each site have that concerns me. Which brings me to ask how much different are cat people than dog people.

My Social Petworked Pets

My Social Petworked Pets

When looking at all of the beautiful cats on the cat site, I noticed most of the cats I viewed have TONS of friends. The ration is anywhere between 15-30% per viewings. By this I mean if a cat has been viewed by 900 people, that cat will have at least 200 cat friends. That’s a good number.

A viewing is when a potential friend clicks on that pet and has the opportunity to read the bio, arrival story, likes and dislikes. There are also photos and sometimes videos available of the potential friend.

The dog site is totally different and it worries me. There are profiles of dogs who have been on the site for years without a single friend. Some dogs have been viewed over 1000 times and have only a dozen or so friends.

What is happening here? I really want to know. Is it because dogs look so much different between the different breeds than cats do? This brings me to my next topic. What are people who visit these sites looking for in cat and dog friends for their furry friend. Here are a few examples I believe would fit.

  • Age specific. Pet should be around the same age as the pet of the person searching for friends
  • Breed specific. Cat and dog lovers want to make friends with owners who care for the same breed
  • Making just a very few close friends based on the bio of the pet listed. Sort of a pen pal relationship. It’s possible to pick up the personality of the owner by reading the bio
  • Making as many friends as possible on the site. This can be to promote the pet or promote the owner. Those pets with more friends have a better chance of being chosen “pet of the week” or “pet of the day”
  • Making friends close to home so play dates can be arranged
  • Adoption. Pets can be listed as adoptable and people looking for pets can search for a pet
  • Relationships. Find a future spouse/relationship/friend based on the love of pets

I choose cat and dog friends differently. For cat friends, I want as many as possible so I can promote my stories. I have close friends I’ve made on the cat petworking site who pass along emergency information such as pet food recalls or health issues. The close friendships have been a surprise as I didn’t plan it. I’ve also worked hard at gathering a solid fan base for Furby. Between the petworking and pictures-of-cats.org, Furby is known in several different social circles thanks to a lot of hard work on my part. Furby certainly hasn’t helped much on his end!

For my dogs Cujo and Dreyfuss (Rainbow Bridge) I’m more into breed specific and common interests. I’m looking for Shih-tsu friends and service dog friends (Dreyfuss was a retired service dog). I’ve sent out a few hundred requests and so far the response rate is around 30%. I feel I’ll make several good friends on the dog site. I don’t know why my overall acceptance rate is higher than average. No one knows I’m the owner so it has nothing to do with my being a writer. I really want as many dog friends as possible because I want to promote Cujo. I’m selfish in wanting him to make “dog of the week” or some other dog owner. He’s a cute pup and I’m proud of him. For those of you who don’t know Cujo, he’s a rare breed: a cat-dog. Yes, I made that up…

This only confuses me more about the dogs on the site with only a few friends. Do their people not promote them more asking for friends? Are their owners snobs and refuse to “friend” another dog if it’s not a purebred? Do they just not check their pet mail and acknowledge friend requests?

This makes me wonder about the very different personalities of cat lovers and dog lovers. Cat lovers tend to love all cats regardless. This is how it should be. Dog owners appear to be more breed specific. Is anyone basing friendship on physical appearance? Are less than perfect cats and dogs passed over for the more beautiful? The more I try to figure out human nature, the more confused I make myself.

A lot of people have accused me of not facing reality at times. Petworking is my escape from reality. I go to my cat or dog networking sites and just have a few hours of fun and escape. For me it’s relaxing as well as rewarding. Anyone who hasn’t pretended to be their cat or dog is really missing out. I do petworking when I’m facing a writers block. It gets me through. So my spare time is spent on my favorite dog and cat sites or I’m researching my next story. That’s my life between holding down a job and being a giant pillow for my pets at home.

If I’m ever diagnosed with a multiple personality disorder, I can just about guarantee the other personalities are cats and dogs. Lets see, so far I’m Furby, Cujo, Midnight and Sealy. As long as I don’t start meowing or barking at anyone, I should be okay…It’s fun writing as a cat or a dog, each with a different personality.

How many of you are into social petworking? Which sites do you recommend? I’ve purposely left off site names as they are actually competition (Michael PoC told me this) for pictures-of-cats.org. I personally don’t consider them competition as I use them for completely different reasons. If I have a health topic, I always go to the PoC home page and look up the health topic I need information on. I’d trust Michael here much more than just Googling a subject. This site isn’t a social petworking site, except as cat lovers we tend to form close friendships here. It’s an encyclopedia for cat information.

How do the petworkers here choose cat and dog friends for your cats and dogs? What is it based on? I’m really curious here. And why do you think the dogs tend to have far fewer friends than the cats? Hopefully someone here can explain this to me. It worries me when I see a dog whose profile has been viewed 1000 times and has no friends. Maybe I’m just sensitive. I love both and find it interesting there’s such a difference in animal lovers.

Thoughts anyone?

Elisa

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Comments

Attention Social Petworkers! — 8 Comments

  1. I actually enjoyed reading this. I hope you don’t mind me adding the silly picture. It is hard to know what is going on when you don’t understand the thing in the first place :). Actually I do understand it because Furby has been on PoC before a few times.

    I think the reason for the difference in the petworking world between cats and dogs is the same reason why cats are internet stars and dogs really aren’t. I think we have to agree that cats are bigger than dogs on the internet. I think there are lots more cat websites than dog websites, more videos and pictures etc.

    A major factor might be this: women prefer cats in general, particularly intelligent women. And women like socialising more than men. The internet is a great social medium these days. That’s it. It is about women who pretend to be cats 😉 more than men (or women) pretend to be dogs.

    In fact I wonder if all the petworkers are females? Nah it can’t be all but probably the majority.

    • LOVE the picture! Don’t ever try to figure out women. You’ll give yourself a headache. I do think more women are into this than men.

      I can spend hours looking at cute cats and dogs and sending friend requests. You should try it one day.

  2. Just on Thursday(11-10-2012) saw the classic 1958 movie “CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF” at the American Centre library in Mumbai.Besides the starcast of Paul.Newman and Elizabeth.Taylor it was the name of the movie that attracted me to view this classic and was absolutely thrilled for the same.Cats seem to be a very popular subject in movies and in the 21st century, the internet and strangely, women are always associated with cat names or cats.On the internet, have come across numerous “PETWORKERS’ on “FACEBOOK” itself, manny members of my social cat group,”Persian cats, upkeep and breeding”. At first i was confused at seeing cats photos as facebook identities but later realized that the human owners were representing their cats.

  3. I think dog and cat owner’s are just different. I think it’s more likely that a cat lover will have a dog, before a dog lover will have a cat. They are just two different basic molds. I wonder if it’s that they are less trusting or if they just plain feel silly doing it. Great article. Thanks for sharing. Love the pix.

  4. What!? You mean Furby doesn’t write his own stuff? Geez. You have burst my bubble. I suppose next you’ll say Midnight doesn’t really steal your phone to type on Facebook and Sealy and Cujo don’t actually post either!
    I use Monty’s picture as my Facebook profile pic because he’s a lot better looking than me.
    I write a lot about Monty on my Facebook page and I’m always surprised at how many people enjoy reading about his adventures. The last time I saw Charles, a fellow church organist who is on my FB friends list for professional reasons only, I was surprised when he said to me, “I really enjoy the Monty stories.” He never commented on one or liked it. I have a friend from high school who reads them to her daughter, who says, “Mom, I think Monty is a little prince.” He does rule this house in many ways!
    I think cats are a little mysterious. They seem so wise. It’s easy to speculate what they are thinking. Dogs seem more transparent. Perhaps they don’t have as much of a secret life as cats, so they don’t make good subjects for a FB page. Cats just seem smarter. I’m probably biased.

  5. Monty really needs to write Ruth. I bet he has a lot to say. Furby does his own stories thru mind transfer. I have to help Middy because she’s shy. Cujo and Sealy have yet to write their own stories. I’ve tried to get them to speak up and Sealy just stares at me and Cujo won’t stop long enough.

  6. What does Monty have to say? “Take me outside. Bring out the fishing pole toy. Foot pet me. Feed me. That’s enough hugging, I’m busy. Quit scaring away my prey, I’m trying to hunt. Help me out of this tree. Stop typing on that thing and pay attention to me. Don’t leave me alone for so long. Get up and do something interesting! Share your food with me. Stay out of the kitchen unless you’re getting something for me. Stop talking so much. Scoop my litterbox. I don’t really mind claw trimming and brushing but you are way too slow! Hurry up, I have things to do! Say my favorite word, you know what it is: Treat!”

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