Social media is one of the most important ways you can enrich the lives of you and your cat.
Of sharing one’s home with cats, I’ve often heard the following: “Cats are great. They’re so low-maintenance that you don’t even have to do anything!”
True, you don’t have to take them out to walk them for a half hour three times a day, and they’re a bit more self-sufficient than dogs, but cats do require a lot of work to be happy, healthy, socialized animals, something that Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds, Mikel Delgado, wants to emphasize:
I think there’s been a myth that cats are a low-maintenance pet… Maintenance is not bad and I really feel like cats give back in proportion to what you give them.
And to make sure our cats get along, that they don’t scratch the furniture, and that we socialize them to our lives, we really do need to spend a good amount of energy caring for and spending time with them, which usually results in a very loving and playful feline companion. But let’s be honest; working with your cat isn’t always enjoyable and can feel like a chore, especially when you just want to sit and relax and scroll through Instagram. But have you considered the rewards of combining the two? A Behaviorist with Purina, Dr. Sandra Lyn, expands on this:
The daily husbandry things that you have to do for your cat, look at those as pleasure routines that you can create moments for bonding with your cat. It doesn’t have to be a drudgery. So how do you turn that into fun? I think that that’s the piece because then you can share that on social media.
I didn’t really know what would happen when I started sharing Shorty’s videos on YouTube and then getting her a Facebook page. But the process was a lot of fun and I ended up spending more time with my cats than probably most people do through documenting their lives. Many people ask what makes Shorty and Kodi so happy and playful, and the simple process of spending time with them to share them on social media is perhaps the reason why.
How to take pictures and video of your cat for social media
It’s one thing to set up a social media account for your cat, and it’s another to get good pictures and video to actually share. While I have tips specifically for black cats, you can still find general photo advice in my article, How to Take Great Pictures of Your Black Cat, and learn the 7 Tips for Filming Your Cat. I’ll post the tutorial videos below:
Setting up a social media account for your cat
So you want to start sharing your cat on social media, but not sure where to begin? I think it’s best to go with what you know, so if you’re really familiar with the image-based Instagram, open that account for them, or if you’re more comfortable with Facebook, which is more of a text-first, image-second platform, start there, and if you enjoy sharing and learning information at a fast pace, then Twitter‘s for you. You’ll learn more about the medium, especially hashtags that describe your content and make it easily searchable, as you begin to share your cat and search for others. You don’t have to build an empire and conquer every social media outlet. Start small and share simple pictures of your cat’s life. You’ll gain followers by liking and commenting on other people’s photos, and becoming part of the community. Here are instructions for setting up these accounts from their respective help pages.
- Download the Instagram app for your phone’s operating system.
- Once the app is installed, tap to open it.
- Tap Sign Up, then enter your email address and tap Next or tap Log In with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
- If you register with email, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Done. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.
To create a Facebook Page, you need to have a Facebook profile. A profile is what you make friends with, and you have a limit of 5,000 friends; a Page is like a business that acquires Likes/Fans and there’s no limit to those on a Page.
- Go to facebook.com/pages/create
- Click to choose a Page category
- Select a more specific category from the dropdown menu and fill out the required information
- Click Get Started and follow the on-screen instructions
- Go to http://twitter.com and find the sign up box, or go directly to https://twitter.com/signup.
- Enter your full name, phone number, and a password.
- Click Sign up for Twitter.
- In order to verify your phone number, we will send you an SMS text message with a code. Enter the verification code in the box provided. Learn more about having a phone number associated with your account here.
- Once you’ve clicked Sign up for Twitter, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) — type your own or choose one we’ve suggested. We’ll tell you if the username you want is available.
- Double-check your name, phone number, password, and username.
- Click Create my account.You may be asked to complete a Captcha to let us know that you’re human.
Learning to be a better caregiver
Sharing pics is great, but the power of social media goes beyond creating a better connection between you and your cat. Delgado believes that social media is like a dog park for cats where we can learn more about them and be better caregivers just by sharing in the activities of others:
I do think that social media is an opportunity for us to educate people about, [for example] how do you read what a relaxed, happy cat looks like … or is this a normal cat behaviour, and how would you know, because not everybody does know. And certainly something that people think is funny or strange may be just an idiosyncratic behaviour, it could be abnormal, or it could actually be very positive… All of us should be utilizing social media as a way to share information about cats, and certainly visual information like body language is very helpful.
I discuss social media as well as socialization and positive stress for your cats in the video below from Purina’s Better With Pets Summit. If you have any questions about how to set your cat up on social media, leave a comment and I or the community can help you out!