Blogs are for everyone, so why not your pet?
Like most bloggers, he writes about his daily activities and observations about life. But for Max, a 6-year-old black-and-white house cat, that often means recounting the joys of coughing up fur balls and climbing into boxes.
Max writes “PsychoKitty,” a four-year-old blog typed by his owner, Karen Thompson of Vacaville, Calif.
“I had been blogging for a little over a year and was having fun with it,” said Thompson, 46, a novelist who has also published two books based on the blog. “I figured if Max had a blog, it would be funny in a warped kind of way.”
“PsychoKitty,” which Thompson said gets between 200 and 500 hits a day, is part of the growing ranks of hundreds of pet blogs that have sprouted up in the last five years--narrated by cats, dogs, horses and even hamsters. The pets add one another to their blog rolls, leave comments for each other, and are loath to admit that the writers are, in fact, humans.
The blog monitor and search engine Technorati estimates more than 175,000 new blogs are created each day. Since 62 percent of American households have pets, someone was bound to come up with the pet blog idea. And it could be an inevitable progression of other ways owners have always found to treat pets as humans, like dressing them in designer outfits and feeding them dog biscuits fashioned after petit fours.
The urge to blog as our pets is “just a natural extension of anthropomorphizing them in every other way. ‘They’re little humans, so why don’t they blog?’” said Alexandra Horowitz (no relation to the writer), who teaches psychology at Barnard College and is writing a book on what science reveals about a dog’s point of view.
Horowitz said pet blogging also comes from the tradition of writing animal memoirs. The most popular, “Black Beauty,” played a part in improving equine welfare by making people more sympathetic to horses.
“Anthropomorphisms certainly aren’t all bad,” said Horowitz. “They do serve to make people feel close” to animals.
That was the case for Keith Day, whose 8-year-old retired racehorse maintains the blog “Bazzy Boy, a Racing Legend of Sorts,” which averages 10,000 hits per day and won the new category of Best Pet Blog at the 2007 Weblog Awards in Las Vegas. Day, who owns a Web business and lives about 70 miles from Melbourne, Australia, started blogging three months after buying Bazz, his first horse. He said the blog has helped him feel more in tune with his pet’s physical and emotional needs.
“He’s not just a horse in the paddock that I go out and feed; he’s a good mate of mine,” said Day, 45. “Blogging in some way has contributed to that bond and kept that bond, because the blog reminds me every day of how special he is.”
Day said the blog, about the life of a slow but proud thoroughbred who is afraid of children, plastic bags and mailboxes (among other things) remains popular because it serves as a meeting point for horse lovers from all over the world, who see a little of the stubborn, jumpy Bazz in their own horses.
Cat and dog blogs have also created species- and sometimes breed-related online communities. Having noticed the volume of cats with blogs, Robyn Harton, 43, who makes jewelry and sells it online, started Catblogosphere.com. The site, which Harton, of Richmond, Va., said averages about 10,000 visits per month, is the hub of cat blogs, where about 100 bloggers post their latest news. It also brings cat bloggers together; they’ve held raffles and auctions to help each other with large vet bills in the past.
Like any tight-knit group, many of the animal bloggers have their own lingo. In this case, it includes slang like “beans” for humans and “purrayer” for prayer. They often use the troublingly poor grammar and spelling that plague those other Internet animals, the LOLcats, pictures of felines with humorous captions that routinely appear in online forums and on Web sites.
“I’d be more surprised if they could spell, actually,” said Harton, 43, whose cats struggle with English language mastery on their blog, “House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.”
Horowitz offered another explanation. “There is a way in which even though we anthropomorphize, we hesitate,” she said. “Sure they can write and speak, but they don’t have good orthography. So they’re just drawing a line, a threshold of where you stop anthropomorphizing.”
Still, some genre-pushing pet bloggers have a sophisticated worldview and perfect spelling. In “Roxie’s World,” a 14-year-old wire fox terrier writes eloquently about the presidential election, basketball and feminism and draws readers who are interested in those topics as well as in terriers.
One of Roxie’s owners, Marilee Lindemann, an English professor at the University of Maryland, started the blog two years ago to update friends and family about Roxie’s then-flagging health. But after a few months, she began to explore the possibility of using Roxie’s voice as a literary device to express her own views. Writing from Roxie’s perspective, Lindemann said, is like writing from a child’s. “Roxie always expects people to do the right thing,” she said.
Lindemann said the blog brings her closer to the real Roxie. That could be true for many pet bloggers, Horowitz said.
“Those people might be becoming better observers than somebody else who doesn’t write a blog about their pet--I mean, who doesn’t have a pet who writes a blog.”