The Community-Based (Virtual) Human-Animal Bond: An Exploration of the TinyKittens Online Community

  • Author / Creator
    Cappello, Alicia V
  • Cats are ubiquitous with the internet, yet only a few studies have included both subjects as the focus of their research. The few studies that do include both cats and the internet rarely set out to show the ways in which humans benefit from their involvement with cats on the internet. This study, however, aims to fill that gap by exploring the ways in which a cat-focused virtual community and information world¬–the TinyKittens online community–benefits its members by nurturing and strengthening the community-based (virtual) human-animal bond. The TinyKittens online community, for the purpose of this study, comprises five Facebook pages, two YouTube live video streams (with synchronous chat), and one Livestream video stream (also with synchronous chat). In this study I analyze the posts and comments written directly by members of the TinyKittens online community to examine how the information they exchange provides them with positive and supportive social interactions that lead to positive emotions. That analysis shows that TinyKittens online community members exhibit five main characteristics: they are happy, supportive individuals; they regularly share personal information; they strive to help other members; they find happiness and relaxation from both the cats and humans in the community; and they care deeply about the well-being of all cats and kittens and develop a bond with the cats in the care of TinyKittens. These results are encouraging. They imply that humans can use the internet as a means of connecting with living beings other than humans. While further research would be required in order to show this, I believe the community-based (virtual) human-animal bond can be experienced with any type of animals, domestic or wild.

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  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts/Master of Library and Information Studies
  • DOI
  • License
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