The Curious Case of Palmerston the Cat

With PhD applications, essays and the taught component of my masters a distant memory (well, as of last week), I'm back in the blogging zone and getting stuck into my dissertation. My research will explore students' relationships with their pets whilst living away from home so I've been able to immerse myself in Human-Animal Studies once more (and google search cats for 'research purposes').

So, it's rather apt that Palmerston the cat hit the headlines last week for starting work as 'chief mouser' at the Foreign Office. Interestingly, Palmerston, being named after a viscount, is humanised compared to the names we may give our pets taking inspiration from food or pop culture. It seems that the boundary between human and animal is blurred, considering he is a non-human animal yet deemed staff. This status reflects the contradictory roles of animals in society, as they occupy positions as employable subjects and/or adorable objects in a myriad of settings. 


Image source here
The public, as well as Palmerston's colleagues, are encouraged to form an emotional connection with him through the photographs and updates posted on social media. Yes, he has an official Twitter account, @DiploMog in which it's presumed a human speaks through the cat, affording a voice to his experiences. This is interesting, given that the idea of a human/animal binary was based on prioritising the ability/inability to speak. However, the increasing presence of pets on the likes of Instagram, Youtube and Twitter creates a network of online communication and representation akin to that enjoyed by humans offline.

I don't know what it said on the job description, but it seems that Palmerston the cat is employable for being hard working, social media literate but also cute - fulfilling a complex set of expectations for the practical and social benefit of his human counterparts.

Do you follow any pets on social media?

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