How to Become Insta-Famous: Pet Edition

The Internet loves animals, and people love their pets. So it should come as no surprise that according to a study done by the UK’s Telegraph, 13% of cats have their own Facebook page and 9% of dogs have their own Twitter account. Pets are all over social media, but some are more popular than others. Some of these tech-savvy, adorable little creatures are legitimately internet-famous.


Boo and his best friend Buddy

Boo and his best friend Buddy

Boo the Dog could be arguably the most popular animal on social media. Khloe Kardashian anointed the fluffy and smiling Pomeranian the title of “cutest dog on the planet.” Boo had a bit of a head start—his owner is a Facebook employee, who created him a Facebook page, naturally. In October 2010, Ke$ha tweeted that Boo was her new boyfriend, with a link to his Facebook page. Since then, Boo has amassed almost 17 million likes on his Facebook page. 17 MILLION. That’s more than many actors, musicians, and companies. However, his fame has lifted him out of just being a viral Internet star. He is also the star of his own set of picture books, was appointed the official spokesdog for Virgin America Airlines, is a fashion model for several popular brands, and has his own product line.


Vincent Van No

Vincent Van No

I’m sure you all know about Grumpy Cat, whose unimpressed and permanently grumpy face has skyrocketed her to fame and fortune. Grumpy Cat has feline dwarfism, which gives her a noticeable underbite and an unforgettable face. Tardar Sauce (Grumpy Cat’s real name) got her big break on the social media outlet Reddit. She was swiftly made into a meme and the rest is history. Grumpy Cat has 7.5 million likes on Facebook and 650,000 followers on Instagram. His popularity on social media has also launched his career outside of the social media realm. He is a movie star—starring in his own film, has appeared on many talk shows, American Idol, the Bachelorette, and more. Additionally, he has a series of books and products. It is rumored that he has made over $100 million dollars. $100 MILLION.

"My donuts bring all the boys 2 the yard"

“My donuts bring all the boys 2 the yard”


Lastly, I would like to introduce you to Marnie, my personal favorite. Marnie is a 12 year- old shih tzu who was rescued from an animal shelter after being abandoned on the streets of Connecticut. When she was first rescued, the animal shelter named her Stinky. Luckily, she was adopted and taken to a loving home. Marnie has Vestibular Syndrome, which could be loosely compared to a stroke. This caused Marnie to lose her sense of balance, which is why Marnie always tilts her head to one side. She is also famous for her long tongue, which always sticks out of her mouth because all of her teeth were removed due to decay. In 2014, Marnie’s Instagram was an unexpected, instant success and she now has 1.2 million followers. Her social media fame has allowed her to be a hit amongst celebrities and she frequently models.

So what makes some pets so famous?

Most importantly, the most popular animals have a personality. Boo is happy. Grumpy Cat is always, well, grumpy. And Marnie is endearingly awkward (which probably explains why I love her so much). Their social media outlets capitalize on their appearances and their personalities help them connect to their fans. For example, Grumpy Cat’s photos are accompanied by sarcastic and cranky captions. Secondly, make sure your pets quirks and unique features are apparent. This will capture the attention of the audience and set them apart from other pets. Also, it creates unique branding opportunities for companies. Lastly, the most famous pets weren’t adopted or brought home with the intent of making a profit for their owners. Their owners love them and wanted to share this over social media so the whole world could love them as well.


  1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say they all have their own personalities. If you want your animal to be Inst-famous, it needs a unique personality to go along with its memorable appearance. Cute puppies or kittens can only hold an audience’s attention for so long. The staying power of these animals largely depends on the amount of imagination someone can invest into thinking about what their life would be like with the animal in their life. Of course memes and celebrity endorsements never hurt the social media stardom cause either!

  2. I really like your post – cute, grumpy and awkward at the same time! For me it was a little surprising that 13 % (!) of cats have their own Facebook page. I was curious and googled “cats on facebook”. I did not find actual pages “owned” by felines, but a lot of sites where cat lovers share their passion by posting adorable pictures and videos. Some of them also want to raise awareness for the fact that there are a lot of abandoned animals every year. Interestingly I found out ( that a lot of “internet cats” have been abandoned – maybe that’s where their personality comes from. Speaking of personality: If companies decide to use a famous animal to support their brand, they should make sure, that the cat’s/dog’s personality fits to the firm’s.

  3. Relevant:
    I am of the opinion that cats make up 50% of the web, dogs about 40% and the other 10% consisting of Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s insane to believe that two Grumpy Cats would be equal to one Taylor Swift in net worth.

    The personalities of these memetastic pets is certainly what makes and breaks an animals 15 minutes of fame on the internet but do you think that the cat and dog market for different personalities has been or will ever be saturated with a finite amount of personalities that there would be no room for more? Do you think we (internet) would move toward more alternative forms of cute, crocodile? camel? baby sea lions?

  4. I always found it really interesting how famous and uniting these accounts can be. I always think its funny how theres not really accounts of people’s kids being cute, but I think that people just feel weird showing their kid to the public, so we have settled on pets. I was really interested to hear your conclusion on why these are famous, and I definitely think you’re 100% correct. The dogs instagrams that are a basic kind of cute are not as famous as the quirky ones. This makes sense, though, because people are surrounded by basic cute pets all the time form people in their neighborhood and such, and if the type of pets on instagram were available in real life we wouldn’t follow them on instagram. I always thought I followed these accounts because I don’t have any pets, but it seems that people even with tons of pets follow them as well. This was a really good topic to look at and I’d be interested in thinking/ brainstorming more reasons on why these certain accounts become famous. It of course, also depends on the how well the owner runs this account.

  5. I think its hilarious how quickly these animals got popular and how some of them became memes in their own right. I think this was something that few people predicted would happen with the boom of social networks. Sometimes I feel like there are more animal pictures on my various feeds (fb, twitter, tumblr, reddit) than any other posts. Its also funny how many celebrities love these animals and take pictures with them. Their owners create stories, or create personas for these animals via pictures and posts. Too bad none of these animals know how popular they are!

  6. My roommates were the ones who showed me to Boo, Grumpy Cat and their favorite Lolcats (we had a lolcats calendar in our house last year). I didn’t really understand at first why Boo was so famous and had so much merchandise (folders, stuffed animals, t-shirts, etc). I think that what you said in your post is very true, Boo and other animals can only be this successful and popular because of the personalities that follow their cute images. These pets have clear personas (maybe it is their owners’ behaviors as well) that distinguish them from you average everyday dog or cat. I know many people that have Instagram accounts and Facebook accounts for their pets to get the chance to share cute photos and add on silly or sassy captions. I think its a very strong and universal way to share cuteness and joy–something the world could always use more of!

  7. Yes, there is actual scientific evidence (I think, at least semi-scientific) that people actually prefer looking at pictures of animals. I guess this makes sense, as we have come to rely on domesticated animals as part of our families and societies. Why wouldn’t we share about them as part of our SM communication?

  8. I love this post – I am a sucker for these types of things… my personal favorites are Maddie ( an elegant coonhound with amazing balance) and Toast ( a puppy mill rescue similar in appearance to Marnie.)

  9. This is great! I am a huge fan of grumpy cat, mainly just because I think the captions are hilarious. You are absolutely right that all of these famous pets on social have captivating personalities. It is interesting to see when things like this take off, even if they weren’t supposed to. Pets definitely get to people, and have a way of making us smile and laugh, perhaps even more so than babies or just regular humans! These accounts all show how sometimes a certain meme or image can really stick with people, and then all the sudden they go viral. I think having celebrities like Kesha and the Kardashians can really help with this too. Nice job!

  10. I remember I created a facebook profile a long time ago for my cousin’s dog! Too bad I wasn’t able to capture much attention to make profits off it haha! I think that with these profiles, not only is the personalities of the animals key, I think the owner’s ability to portray the animals in a certain light will play a critical role. It is crazy to imagine that Grumpy Cat has supposedly cashed in over $100 million! Great Post!

  11. This was a fun post! I honestly had no idea how much revenue some of these pets are generating. It is so true that people love this content. I believe animal posts are so shareable because they usually non-controversial and bring joy. What more could you ask for? Becoming profitable is taking this to another level, but I guess if the demand is there and the owner is comfortable with the fame, that works too.

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