It's virtually impossible to go a day without seeing photos or videos of fluffy animals doing cute things on our social media feeds. Pets have been winning the Internet's heart for years and sometimes making their owners quite a bit of money in the forms of corporate sponsorships, product placements and book deals - think
Grumpy Cat and
Boo. Cats are the undisputed champion of Internet cuteness and an exhibition entitled
How cats took over the Internet in NYC's Museum of the Moving Image aims to analyse the importance of cat related content on the Internet .
A quick search on Instagram returns plenty of accounts dedicated to our pets here in Australia. Take a look at some of the cutest Australian pets below:
@abbeys_guineapigs: It's hard to resist the overwhelming urge to say "Awww" when you stumble upon these two guinea pigs enjoying a snack. The account has just over 500 followers and chronicles the lives of six guinea pigs and their canine companions Ben and Pippa.
@homerpugalicious: Homer enjoys playing dress up and has a passion for food. When he's not posing for the camera, Homer helps his mum with their blog and works to raise money for animals in need. Check him out on Instagram where he has 58.6 thousand followers.
@hannahhuntcorgi: Hannah the Corgi lives in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Her account has just over 4000 followers and follows her adventures around town with her people and she organises catch ups with her corgi pals with the tag #sydneycorgimeet.
@adventuresoflittleben: Ben, the black Lab, belongs to Sydney fashion blogger, Sara Donaldson. He's only been on Instagram since early 2015 but has already built up a following of over 2000 people. The account follows the escapades of Ben and his pal, fellow black lab, Bundy.
@Jacknluna: Jack and Luna are brother and sister who have found international fame on Instagram. It all started when their human wanted a way to share their daily lives without crowding her friend's Instagram feeds with cat photos. These two are quite unique and were able to gain their stardom with the #nakedcats tag (referring to cats with little or no hair) and when
@cats_of_instagram shared one of Jack and Luna's photos to their (at that time) 1.8 million followers.
@milkteabuns: Yuki and her friend Kookie also have their own blog and YouTube channel and have 20,000 followers just on Instagram. These bunnies dedicate their time to providing the human parents of other bunnies with tips and information on how to keep their bunnies happy and healthy.
@charliemadchops: Charlie is a long-haired Persian and perhaps one of Sydney's best groomed felines. His account has 3400 followers and over 100 photos, many of which document his meticulous grooming regime, helped along by his people who seem to like to put him in the bath.
@kittykitty_bambam: Bam Bam is a Spotted Australian Mist and spends his days lounging and living a very laidback life in Melbourne. He only has a small following but his antics captured by his owners are very entertaining.
And finally, we have the quokka. While not a pet, quokkas still deserve a mention. These Rottnest Island natives have amassed quite the following on Instagram (the tag
#quokka as over 30,000 posts) and other user content generated sites, like
Pets in Australia
Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with around 63 per cent of households having a pet . In 2013, it was estimated that there were at least 25 million pets in Australia: that means roughly 19 dogs and 15 cats per every 100 people plus around 10.7 million pet fish, 4.8 million pet birds and another 2.2 million pet reptiles and other small mammalsii.
Pets are increasingly becoming an important part of our families. Owners are opting for more expensive food, toys and even gifts for special occasions; pet owners are also spending big on professional photographs of their animal companions . For some of us, our pets are more important than the human members of our family. A poll in Britain earlier in the year found that 22 per cent of respondents felt that their pet was more important than their in-laws . Those sentiments are echoed here, with some pet owners looking to their pets to provide a sense of friendship and
stave off feelings of loneliness.
Our pets are often so important to us that we consider their wellbeing before our own. The Victorian Government recently announced it will fund shelter for pets of domestic violence victims as part of its
"Safe Steps" family violence program. This initiative was introduced because victims had sometimes not sought help due to violent threats being made against pets, and refuges would not accept pets. Over the next four years, $100,000 will be spent working with animal welfare agencies, such as the RSPCA, to provide for the pets .
Sometimes, pets even become a matter of national security. The "war of terrier" was a tale fit for the silver screen between Johnny Depp's Yorkshire terriers, Boo Radley and Pistol, and the Department of Agriculture and made international headlines . The issue arose when Depp's dogs arrived on a private jet and avoided quarantine. They were ultimately sent back to the US.