The people behind Insta-famous pet accounts

Even dogs, cats and rabbits can become stars and influencers in Singapore.

Hannah Toh
Hannah Toh

Published: 22 January 2019, 6:16 PM

We often spend hours on Instagram, browsing cute animals that have more followers than we could ever dream of.

But have you ever wondered what it’s like to manage a famous Instagram pet account, and how much money they actually make?

Youth.SG spoke to three pet owners behind viral Instagram pet accounts: Stella Tan, 29, owner of a bunny named Ugs, Jaycee Cai, 29, owner of a dog named Oscar, and Arshanti Chand, 25, the owner of a cat named Brossy.

Why an Instagram pet account 

Stella never thought that the Instagram account she made for her bunny, Ugs, would gain so much attention.

The engineer told us: “Ugs was the first pet in my family, and I always send them pictures of her. My sister asked me to share it with other people, so we started the account.”

Stella’s account, featuring Ugs the female Holland Lop, currently has 27,700 followers.

The followers she gained on Instagram evolved into a supportive community, which constantly comments and likes her posts.

Jaycee, the owner and ‘hooman’ behind Oscar the corgi‘s Instagram account, also started the account to share photos of her dog.

Jaycee’s account, featuring Oscar the Pembroke Welsh corgi, currently has 15,400 followers.

“I started the account for my family and friends, so even if there are no more followers or likes, I will still continue to run this account,” said the food procurer.

Arshanti’s account, featuring Brossy the 1-year-old Maine Coon, currently has 21,500 followers.

On the other hand, marketing freelancer Arshanti started Brossy Meowington‘s account after seeing how successful and famous her sister’s pet account was.

“My sister had an account for her cat, with around 18,000 followers, and had sponsorships,” said Arshanti.

Earning from sponsorships 

With over 14,500 followers, you’d think Jaycee would be raking in the sponsorships and money.

However, she shared that she doesn’t earn a single cent from Oscar’s account.

“I used to have sponsorships but I stopped them. I want to be true to my followers, and don’t want to publish posts that promote the food from brands that Oscar wouldn’t want to eat,” said Jaycee.

Oscar is well fed and loved by Jaysee and her family.

While all three accounts have items such as food, toys and clothing sent to them, they do not get paid for posting content endorsing the items.

In fact, most companies do not explicitly ask them to do a post promoting their items.

Ugs loves interacting with other humans, especially delivery guys who bring her food and toys.

“We are usually sponsored hay, certain vitamins or supplements. We have a lot of freedom and liberty to say what we like or don’t like,” said Stella, adding that she doesn’t post things she wouldn’t use on Ugs, such as rabbit shampoo.

Maintaining their large following 

As all three pet owners are working adults, they have limited time to take photos of their pets. But posting regular content is essential to maintaining their following.

Ugs’s diet is a mix of hay and leafy greens.

Stella said: “I’ve been busy with my job, but in the past I post twice a day and reply to comments, and that was when my following grew very quickly. With the interaction, people got invested in my account.

“They send me messages and comment quite consistently on our photos. It’s very sweet when they say they missed me or Ugs.”

Letters and gifts Stella receives from followers all over the world.

While their pictures often look spontaneous, maintaining the interest of their followers actually involves carefully planned photoshoots.

Arshanti said: “When my sister and I want to take photos, we put all our cats together and take all the photos we want for a month and spread out the posting. We can even use the photos in the following months.”

Brossy is notoriously shy and skittish around strangers.

Dealing with haters 

Even cute pet Instagram accounts can sometimes draw criticism, like when Arshanti and her sister’s cat had an unplanned pregnancy.

“When Lucy got pregnant, we got blocked by a lot of people,” she said.

As the pet community online is adamant about adopting instead of buying, many started leaving comments such as ‘adopt, don’t shop’ on Brossy’s posts.

Lucyfur Grey, the mother of Brossy’s four kittens and the target of online hate from the cat community for her pregnancy.

Arshanti said: “It wasn’t as if we were going to sell the kittens away.

“There are cliques in the cat community, and some of them have fights with each other. The worst thing I’ve heard is that someone reported some cat owners to HDB that they had cats.”

20/20 hindsight 

From the highs of meeting new friends from overseas, to the lows of reading hate comments, maintaining a pet Instagram account is more work than we would have expected.

Oscar has a wide selection of accessories, from bow ties to spectacles. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/HANNAH TOH

But at the end of the day, these accounts are really a means for their owners to document the life of their beloved pets.

As Jaycee said: “If he’s gone one day, I can look back at these photos.”

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