A Pet Is Not Just For “Likes”


– Pet-lovers urged to “put love above likes” as it is revealed one in seven choose pets that would get more likes on social media  –

The UK is well documented as a nation of animal lovers, so it should come as no surprise that we have just as avid an interest in our furry friends on social media as we do in the real world. However, national pet charity Blue Cross is appealing for Britons to “put love above likes” today, after new research revealed that one in seven people (14%) would choose a specific breed of cat or dog based on the number of “likes” they think the pet will get on social media.

The research was conducted by Blue Cross to encourage pet owners and would-be pet owners to put love above social media ‘likes’ when choosing a pet and instead consider the unique and individual qualities of every pet, regardless of breed.

The tendency to think about potential “likes” when choosing a pet is arguably a consequence of the explosion of pet content online in the last few years and rising popularity of certain breeds like the French Bulldog and the Pug. The charity’s research also showed that over two thirds of Brits (67%) follow a feed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest that is “run by” or dedicated to a specific breed or animal, while 10% of us follow over 10 animal accounts.

Dribbles the cat strikes a pose to help pet charity Blue Cross launch its campaign to “put love above likes” and see every pet’s unique charms, as it is revealed one in seven Brits would choose a pet based on how many “likes” they think it might get online. The research was accompanied by a league table of the top most popular dog and cat breeds on Instagram. The charity has released photo tips to help pet owners capture their pet’s best side – these can be seen at www.bluecross.org.uk/petphotos

What’s more, the research suggests a direct connection between the quantity of pet images on social media and the breeds Britons choose to bring into their homes: one in six (12%) pet owners or would-be pet owners said that although they conducted thorough research into a certain breed before choosing their new pet, they were initially attracted to the breed because of images seen on social media.

As part of the research Blue Cross has also compiled a league table of the most Instagrammed cat and dog breeds today:  


1. Tabby (4.5m)

2. Maine Coon (4m)

3. Bengal (3.6m)

4. Siamese (3.5m)

5. Persian (2.4m)

6. Sphinx (3.3m)

7. Rag Doll (3.2m)

8. British Short (1.9m)

9. Birman (590k)

10.  Manx (210k)

11.  Himalayan (177k)

12.  Burmese (162k)

13.  Russian Blue (145k)

14.  Moggy (89k)

15.  British Blue (25k)



1. Pug (34.5m)

2. French Bulldog (24.4m)

3. Chihuahua (21.4m)

4. Bulldog (18.7m)

5. Husky (12.9m)

6. Boxer (15.5m)

7. Labrador (11.1m)

8. Beagle (11m)

9. Dachshund (10.97m)

10.  Shih Tzu (10.4m)

11.  Corgi (10.5m)

12.  Golden Retriever (10.7m)

13.  Poodle (9.4m)

14.  German Shepherd (9.3m)

15.  Pomeranian (8.4m)

The tables reveal a trend amongst dog lovers to focus on pedigree breeds on social media: there are just 159,603 uses of #mongrel and 735,035 uses of #mixbreed meaning they don’t feature anywhere near the top 15, compared to #tabby and #moggy which are prominent amongst Instagram cat posts.

Mandy Jones, Director of Rehoming from Blue Cross commented: “We certainly sympathise with anyone who loves taking photos of their pets or following cats and dogs on social media, but we wish we could get our homeless pets the same numbers of followers! We love every breed; be they pugs and bulldogs or mongrels and mixes. Choosing based on fashion can lead to heartache too; the current fashion for flat faced dogs is resulting in thousands of puppies being born who will have a lifetime of chronic health problems due to being unable to breathe comfortably.

Most importantly we believe every pet is unique and beautiful in its own way so we’d always encourage anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider a rescue and make a decision based on personality as well. Pets come in all shapes and sizes and are much better in real life than online. We hope that anyone who loves looking at pet profiles on social media, will take time to visit the dogs and cats on our website and maybe find a perfect new companion to rehome.”

In light of the research findings, Blue Cross is appealing to pet owners and would-be pet owners to champion the unique and individual qualities of every pet, regardless of breed or appearance. It takes in thousands of pets every year and each one is photographed for their rehoming page when they are ready to find new homes – so, to help make sure that all pets enjoy social media popularity, the charity is sharing some of its expert tips for capturing every pet’s best side, regardless of breed, age, size or temperament.



·       Get them used to the camera sound in advance – even phones make a “shutter” sound. Give them a treat every time the camera makes a noise so they associate the sound with something positive.

·       If you’re using a larger camera give them time to get used to your gear as well – lenses look like eyes, so may freak them out the first time they see a big old DSLR with straps hanging down and flashes stuck on top – particularly if you’re holding it up so it obscures your face while you take pictures.

·       Practise using your camera one-handed so you’re prepared when you need to capture that perfect shot – you’ll be able to use the other hand to hold a toy or treat to get your pet’s attention.

·       Be prepared – bring toys and their favourite treats. Cut larger treats into small chunks… you may need to use quite a few!


·       Photograph in short bursts – many pets will get bored and lose interest if you keep them too long

·       Don’t stick your camera in your pet’s face – though it’s fine for your pet to come to you: try taping a treat to the top of your camera to make it more inviting.


·       Great photography is not just about re-creating perfect portraits – some of the most interesting and charming pictures are ones that capture candid moments – if you’ve got a lazy see if you can capture a big yawn for example.

·       Make sounds to get their attention – nothing scary of course! But try making making a kissing noise, or click or whistle to capture that quizzical tilted head look.

·       Celebrate the thing that makes them unique! Old dog? Capture those distinguished greys. Big drooler? Bring along their favourite treat and let them know you’ve got it capture them licking their lips. Cross-eyed kitty? Capture them front on. Loves playing fetch? Get a friend on board and head to the park for some action shots.


·       Try shooting from the hip or get near the ground – you can even use a selfie stick to get unusual angles. Often, shots from the pet’s eye view are the most engaging.

·       Bring in some props – is your puppy or kitten really tiny? Accentuate that by having something in the picture like a football to accentuate scale, or perhaps get a friend to be a hand model.

·       Try getting close-ups of individual parts – a close up of an ear, long whiskers or tufted paw pads for example.


·       If you can focus on one particular feature of your pet, try playing around with that too. (“Proper” cameras will enable you to do this, but many smartphones also have a feature that lets you pinpoint an area to highlight.) And if in doubt – focus on the eyes.

Anyone looking for the full list of tips and advice can find them on the Blue Cross website at: www.bluecross.org.uk/petphotos – and can rehome one of the many different breeds and cross-breeds waiting for homes at Blue Cross at bluecross.org.uk

Don't miss out!
Subscribe To Newsletter

Receive top cat news, competitions, tips and more!

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

50 thoughts on “A Pet Is Not Just For “Likes”

  1. Laura (PA Pict) says:

    I am actually astounded by this. As much as I am aware of pet photos being all over the internet, I had no idea that people would actually select their pets based on social media. Maybe I am just too old to understand the influence of social media even though I am only in my 40s. I picked our cats by visiting an adoption event run by a local shelter and figuring out which cats my kids clicked with and which cats had the temperament to enjoy four kids. Breed or looks didn’t come into it. We adopted one cat with three legs mostly because he was beautiful and had a lovely personality but partly because we worried he was less likely to be adopted as an amputee. We then almost adopted a one-eyed and one-eared cat for the same reason but ended up with a ginger kitten. Both are moggies. It never crossed my mind to look for a pedigree cat or one that met popular criteria.

  2. Animals Are Feeling Beings Too says:

    This is sad to hear. An animal is not about how they look, it is about a living creature being brought into the home as a forever family member. We can’t choose how our family members look (other than obviously who we choose to be our husband or wife). It makes me also wonder how ell they are caring for the animal. Is it there just to get the human popular on social media?

  3. Charles Huss says:

    I would have never imagined people would chose pets based on social media. As far as focus goes, I have never considered a photograph to be good unless the eyes were in focus.

  4. angela1313 says:

    This was a very informative post. It isn’t all the fault of on line social media. I remember as a child everybody in my neighborhood wanting a Siamese or a Cocker Spaniel after Disney re-released Lady and the Tramp. To give some balance many organizations on social media are getting adoptions for special needs cats, like those with CH, amputations, blindness and so forth. Those who are adopting by look do the same in a shelter walk through, I’ve seen it myself. I’ve had purebeds and moggies but all were rescue and all were equally precious.

    • Marc-André says:

      Very true… this problem has existed for as long as we’ve been around I’d imagine. It’s just that it’s more obvious with social media.

      And yep on the contrary social media has also done a lot of good things for animal welfare. 🙂

      • angela1313 says:

        Speaking of social media making things more obvious, I was reminded you asked me about the aggregator I used.It’s actually not a true aggregator. I signed a few petitions and began getting notices of new ones so I created an email routing system which collects them all for me. Since the ones I signed were all animal welfare related that’s what the petition groups send me so it was easy.

  5. ravenhawks magazine says:

    I was adopted by a grey and white cat she produced kittens and they are all unique that is my cat family of five. She chose me I do not know what I do for her social media status because I am quite the mutt myself. All jokes aside that is sad, what happens when the animal they choose is no longer popular on social media?

    • Marc-André says:

      Your family sounds beautiful. <3

      And yes… hopefully the more this type of post gets shared the more people realise the importance of responsible pet guardianship.

  6. Carole says:

    I’m astonished and saddened by this. Two of my cats are pedigrees, but not for the above reasons. I fell in love with the breed after meeting one in real life several years ago. Then, after a few years of careful research we got two kittens. I was attracted by the personality of the breed as much as the appearance and obviously wanted to ensure that we could provide the right home for the cats.

    • Marc-André says:

      And you are a prime example of a responsible cat guardian. 🙂

      Now if we can only show those that do it for fame on social media how important factors such as the ones you described are… I hear it too often that someone for example gets a Siamese only to realise a few months in that they can’t cope with their vocal attitude. ;(

  7. Belinda O says:

    My babies literally showed up at my door after being abandoned near my home. No doubt they chose me! Other cats I’ve adopted over the years have come to my home after meeting them at a shelter and feeling an instant connection. You have to wonder about someone who would choose a pet based on its popularity. It seems so shallow and not at all loving — based on what the cat or dog can do for you, not the love you can share.

  8. CLEvangelism says:

    “[N]ew research revealed that one in seven people (14%) would choose a specific breed of cat or dog based on the number of “likes” they think the pet will get on social media.”
    Smh. What is WRONG with people?!

  9. Pingback: alexankarrbooks

  10. Susan says:

    What an astounding revelation about how shallow people can be! I’ve always loved the look of the Abyssinian breed, and my mother always loved the look of the Siamese breed, but neither of us ever had one of those. Instead, all our lives we’ve only adopted cats from shelters, or stray cats who came to us on their own – a motley tabby with split ears, a pregnant black-and-white who produced three gorgeous kittens, an unwanted ginger with rejection issues, a fluffy grey with a stumpy tail, a multi-colour with skin problems – it never mattered to us, we loved them all the same.

    The fancy breeds are lovely to look at but my beloved furkids have all been special and unique and I love them for their quirky characteristics – personality-wise as well as physical.

    • Marc-André says:

      We are in a similar boat. We love the Siamese and oriental but we’d always go for adopt over shop! Which is how our two moggies came to live with us. 🙂

  11. Jennifer Lynn Daniels says:

    Wow! Ppl actually do that! The cat that I have or I should say HAS ME is a cat I would never of choose but Scabbers just walked into my flat rolled over and showed me his tummy. He kept coming in to visit and snuggle. The next thing I new his owner had put him out, he didn’t want him any more. I figured that Scabbers choose me I needed him and it was just ment to be by the powers above .???

  12. felineopines says:

    Awsome article! So many “famous” felines are cats that one wouldn’t necessarily choose as a beautiful animal, Lil Bub, Monty the cat, Grumpy Cat, Honey Bee and many more, they are all beautiful. It’s the purrrrsonality that counts!

  13. heretherebespiders says:

    I’m surprised also – my husband isn’t! I’m really upset about seeing Bengal on the list. I have noticed more and more of them being used in advertisements, which also likely is helping boost knowledge about bengals. But Bengals are NOT ordinary, they are very needy and loud and can be aggressive and have behaviour issues if raised by someone who doesn’t know they are different! I am heartsick to think of how many will end up abandoned because of a stupid trend.

  14. cat9984 says:

    Wow. I assume that survey only applies to people who are active on social media, but still… I wonder what the result would be over here

  15. Pingback: Pets are LOVE not likes! – Paula's Pet Taxi & Check-In Service LLC

  16. Rohvannyn says:

    I ended up with two incredibly photogenic cats – both rescues – and one whom I would never have adopted on my own, because I generally don’t want longhairs around. They both are wonderful friends though and even put up with photographs. I don’t think it would have occurred to me to adopt them based on how many likes I would get!

    • Marc-André says:

      Same for us. We went in to the charity with the idea of getting a tabby but needed up with a tuxedo and black cat. 😀

Why not meow a comment to fellow readers?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.