Internet-famous animals often occupy a unique niche in parasocial interactions.
So it should come as no surprise that when some beloved, popular creatures died this year, many online were heartbroken.
After all, many of those animals became sources of joy and comfort (even though most people didn't know them personally).
Here's a tribute to some of the famous viral animals we lost in 2022.
Pot Roast was a toothless, black-and-white cat, who captured the heart of the internet with her laid-back personality, messy eating and assorted health problems. She grew to prominence on the account @PotRoastsMom, where her owner, who publicly identifies only as "Pot Roast's Mom," introduced her to the world. The account had more than 1.2 million followers.
“When I saw Pot Roast this morning I could feel that she was done fighting and even though I wasn’t done fighting for her I let her go,” Pot Roast's Mom wrote after she announced the cat's death. She added that Pot Roast died in her arms.
In the wake of Pot Roast's death in February, Pot Roast's mom was harassed and criticized for using jokes and dark humor to cope with the loss of her pet. That led to discussions about how followers on social media create parasocial relationships with the people and animals they see online.
Since Pot Roast's passing, Pot Roast's Mom has adopted two new cats: Soup and Coupon.
Noodle the pug slumped his way into the hearts of millions of followers on TikTok after he became the arbiter of "bones or no bones" days.
Most mornings, Noodle's owner, Jonathan Graziano, would pick him up in his cushy bed. If Noodle remained standing, it was a "bones day," meaning everyone should treat themselves. If he slouched down in his bed, it was a "no bones" day, which meant everyone should be mildly cautious about the quality of their day.
Graziano announced that Noodle had died on Dec. 3. He was 14 years old.
Mochi was a bearded dragon who grew to popularity during the height of quarantine in 2020. His popularity soared after his owner, Mina Alali, shared videos of him wearing fun costumes and coming when called like a dog.
Alali credits Mochi with helping her grow her account to more than 1.3 million followers.
Mochi was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2022 and died shortly after.
"He gave me a reason to smile. A reason to wake up in the morning. I just adored him," Alali said in a video posted in October remembering Mochi's life. "I still cry when I think about him."
In the video, Alali revealed a tattoo on her ribcage of Mochi's paw print.
"This grief is definitely going to last a while," Alali said. Speaking to Mochi, she said, "I wish you were here, but it's comforting to know you're not in pain anymore."
P-22’s journey over Los Angeles’ unforgiving highways led him to make a home in the hearts of both the city and its residents. The lonely mountain lion reigned over Griffith Park for more than a decade, and many said he embodied the spirit of the city.
The mountain lion was a terror to neighboring residents’ chihuahuas and other small pets, but Angelenos and city officials defended his natural predatory instincts and accepted the reality of living in such close proximity to untamed nature.
His tragic passing in December, which was described as compassionate euthanasia after years of deteriorating health, was felt across the city and the internet.
In February, content creator Brandon Tylers announced his hairless guinea pig, Dip, had died. Dip grew to popularity on TikTok with her biweekly coconut oil baths.
Tylers would use a brush to slather Dip in oil as he narrated the video and Dip’s dialogue.
In his February announcement, he addressed why Dip hadn’t appeared in his content since roughly mid-January. “Sorry I haven’t told you all,” Tylers wrote in a comment on a video discussing Dip’s death. “Its been almost a month. I do be missing her voice rn.”
As of December, it appeared Tylers’ account was no longer available on TikTok. It was unclear whether TikTok or Tylers removed the account.