Seattle: Pet Literati Capital of the United States

I’m sure most all of you know that Seattle is home to some of today’s most recognizable American companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Costco. Boeing was also born in Seattle (we were known as Jet City back in the day) despite moving corporate offices to Chicago. But Boeing’s largest division is still headquartered in the area and it remains one of our largest private employers. There’s just something in the water (or rain) here that makes this city an entrepreneurial town. You know that we love our bikes, our coffee, our libraries and advanced degrees, and our tech gadgets and startups. We love recycling and composting, and frequenting our local heath food markets, and we never, ever forget our re-usable shopping bags.

But you probably don’t realize that entrepreneurial and eco-conscious Seattle folks are also a little pet-crazy. Did you know that the approximately 615,000 plus residents of Seattle-proper absolutely LOVE their pets. Like. ADORE. Like we love our pets waaaaaay more than kids. And we’re just counting the dogs. The most recent census numbers available confirm this puppy love in our dog-Mecca, with dogs significantly outnumbering children in Seattle by a large margin. According to figures and 2012 estimates based on the 2010 U.S. Census, Seattle has about 140,000 dogs compared with just over 93,000 kids.

This means that we have about 1.5 x more dogs than we do children in this city.

And I’m not even counting pet cats yet!

This dog-to-kid ratio got me thinking about yet another Seattle title you may not be familiar with. You heard it here first: Seattle should also be known as the Internet Pet Literati Capital of the US. In addition to the abundance of cat, dog, and other pet lovers among our population, Seattle boast one of the highest concentrations of hilarious online and print media pet meme creators and curators.

And I’m absolutely, deadpan serious. Like the AMZNs and the MSFTs of the corporate world, Seattle punches way above its weight in producing and propagating these addictive, and very funny animal memes in the online world that have become an indispensible part of our daily routines. (Well ok, my daily routine.)

Observe:

1. I Can Has Cheezburger? the granddaddy of LOL pet photos paired with hilarious captions is based in Seattle.

Not only does the Cheezburger Empire create, aggregate, and curate terrific pet memes, Cheezburger has many other sites (including Failblog and many others) to serve up a giant smile, and to send you on your way through the workday.

Oh and look out, come November 7th, Bravo is launching a brand new reality TV show on Cheezburger that airs on Wednesdays 11/10 Central called LOLwork, immediately following the premiere of season 10 of Top Chef (which incidentally was filmed in, yes, you guessed it… Seattle!)

2. Let’s move on to one of Seattle’s most popular feline residents.

Henri Le Chat Noir, the black-and-white tuxedo cat who communicates solely in French, isn’t as famous as Maru—the Internet’s most popular box-loving Scottish Fold from Japan—just yet. But Henri and director Will Braden have gained a cult following, particularly after beating out Maru in winning the People’s Choice Award (The Golden Kitty) for the short film, “Paw de Deux” at the Cat Film Festival held at the Walker Art Center this August. Unlike Maru’s simple but playful box-loving antics, Henri emanates gravitas, spouting prescient existential truths about the angst in life and the challenges of ennui in our modern world.

If you haven’t seen Henri, check him out in what was voted the best cat video on the Internet:

Oh and yes, Henri lives a life of leisure somewhere in North Seattle, along with 3 other cats.

3. One my favorite, side-splittingly hilarious sites is Animals Talking In All Caps (or ATIAC for short) and it’s just what it sounds like.

The Tumblr site features pictures of animals talking in all caps, and in this humble American Taitai’s opinion, it’s one of the best sites around. ATIAC’s creator, Justin Valmassoi lives in Seattle. Here are some of my recent favorites and give you a glimpse into what Justin does on his intelligent and very amusing site. Just click on the photos and you will link to ATIAC:

4. Lastly, there’s Seattle’s latest rising pet star: Colonel Meow, a very unique looking Persian/Himalayan rescue whose constant frowns and taglines about spreading “frown bombs” keep us all coming back for more.

Beware, despite his regal mane, he kind of has a bit of a potty mouth, refers to humans as “minions,” and perhaps has a wee bit of a drinking problem. But he’s very VERY funny.

Oh, and btw, he hates Boo (understandably.)

Conclusions

So while Seattle currently has many more dogs than children, the pattern of historical data indicates that a turnaround is not expected. The number of children in Seattle will continue to drop as families elect to move out to the suburbs. So it should come as no surprise that while Amazon will let you bring your dog to work, there’s no onsite day care. There’s no question Seattle loves our dogs. But kids… meh.

Richard Morrill, a retired geography professor at UW, argues there are four main reasons why Seattle’s population of children will continue to drop:

Money: The high cost of real estate.

Sexual Orientation: Seattle has an unusually large number of gay and lesbian couples who tend to not have too many children.

Density: Families don’t want to live in apartments and townhouses.

Education: Seattle has a highly educated population. According to Morrill, people who hold college degrees don’t have as many kids.

Finally, a word on High Art vs. Popular Culture: I guess I’m arguing that the line between the two distinct worlds is rapidly blurring, particularly in our digital age. Who is to argue that a perfect caption on a photograph of a ridiculous animal isn’t art? That the Walker Art Center, a paragon of one of the most prominent institutions of contemporary art, would agree to curate and host an online cat video film festival demonstrates the degree to which popular culture has infiltrated and redefined our perception of art. We vote with our feet and our mouse clicks. Should it have been a surprise that over 10,000 people showed up at the cat video screening, more than double the number expected? No because the cat video is emblematic of the digital age we live in.

Seattlite Henri Le Chat Noir illustrates just how we are able to discover art and beauty, humor and angst in our everyday mundane lives. He is the perfect ambassador for our fair city. And we are all the better for it. Besides, research has shown that viewing cute or silly animal photos at work may actually make us more productive.

So don’t feel guilty. Go ahead and take 2 minutes for yourself to enjoy your day. Be grateful and allow yourself a ginormous belly laugh. Some hard-at-work Seattle pet literati spent hours crafting or curating that perfectly hilarious captioned animal photo you’re enjoying.

Just yesterday in my very own neighborhood, I saw a rather large and overweight orange tabby with a great white belly and his unenthusiastic male owner on a “walk” together. The tabby cat was being walked on a taut leash, and neither cat nor owner look very excited about being on the walk. But then again, this funny pet scene shouldn’t be a surprise. I live in Seattle. I just wish I had a camera handy so that I could capture the image and submit my photo to one of our myriad of talented local internet pet literati for the most fitting and perfect caption.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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