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.
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.
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.