• Reading Level 5
Art & Design | PSHE

JiffPom tops list of cutest social media stars

Are pets good for us? Humans and their love for animals have a long history. The internet has reinforced our obsession with them. But experts have struggled to establish what lies behind it. If Lizzo woke up this morning and checked her number of Instagram followers before getting out of bed, she would have been delighted to see that it stood at 7.8 million. But the singer might have been less delighted to find that she had been overtaken by a dog. According to figures just released, JiffPom the Pomeranian has 9.8 million followers. And there are plenty of other animals who have become social media stars, from Nala the cat (3.5 million followers) to Jill the squirrel (700,000). It is a modern way of measuring a very old obsession: people’s love of animals. The earliest trace of keeping a pet dates from around 10,000 BC, at a grave found in what is now Israel, containing the remains of a puppy cradled in a human's hand. The Ancient EgyptiansA group of people who lived in northeast Africa as long ago as 3100BC.  considered cats to be sacred and did paintings of them. In England in 1666, Samuel Pepys wrote of a meeting with Charles II: "All I observed there was the silliness of the king, playing with his dog all the while and not minding the business." It is hard to say how many pets there are in the world today, but the USA is thought to have the most - around 86 million cats and 78 million dogs. Britain has perhaps 10 million cats and seven million dogs. Life would be miserable without pets. Everyone knows the joy to be had from stroking a cat or playing with a dog, and schemes to bring them into hospitals to cheer up patients have been very successful. Also looking after a pet is a valuable lesson in taking responsibility for others. Others say that animals are meant to live in the wild, with their own kind: keeping them indoors or in cages is cruel. If the love and care we give them - and the money we spend on them - were instead directed towards people, the world would be a better place. KeywordsAncient Egyptians - A group of people who lived in northeast Africa as long ago as 3100BC.

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