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Pets Are "Members of the Family"
and Two-Thirds of Pet Owners Buy Their Pets Holiday Presents
Results of a Harris Poll of 2,455 adults surveyed online between November 7 and 13, 2007.

Almost Two-thirds of Americans Currently Have a Pet

Whether it’s a Persian or a Papillion, Fido or Fluffy, pet owners believe their pets are members of their family. Almost nine in ten (88%) pet owners say their pet is a member of their family with just seven percent saying no. Women are more likely than men to believe this (93% versus 84%). Dog owners are slightly more likely (93%) than cat owners (89%) to consider their pets members of their family.

Who Has a Pet and What Type Do They Have?

Just under two-thirds (63%) of Americans currently have a pet. Certain groups are more likely to have pets than others. Women are more likely then men (68% versus 57%) and Gen Xers (those aged 31-42) and Baby Boomers (those aged 43-61) are more likely (71% and 67% respectively) to have pets then the younger and older generations. Regionally, those in the Midwest are most likely (67%) to have one while those in the East are least likely (58%) to have a pet. Looking at race and ethnicity, 67 percent of Whites and 68 percent of Hispanics have a pet compared to just 35 percent of African Americans.

In terms of education, those who have more education are less likely to have a pet, as just over half (54%) of those with a post-graduate education have a pet as do 57 percent of those with a college education. Interestingly, the reverse is true with income. Six in ten of those who earn under $35,000 and 56 percent of those earning $35,000 to $49,999 have a pet compared with two-thirds (67%) of those earning $50,000 to $74,999 and 68 percent of those earning $75,000 or more.

Dog people outnumber cat people among U.S. pet owners. Seven in ten pet owners have a dog compared to just over half (52%) who have a cat. One in six (15%) have fish while seven percent have a bird and 12 percent have some other type of pet. Baby Boomers are more likely to have a dog (74%) while Gen Xers are more likely to have fish (21%).

Just over one-third (35%) of pet owners have one pet while one-quarter (25%) have two. Lesser numbers have three (13%), four (7%) and five (6%) while 13 percent of pet owners have six or more pets. Mature pet owners (those aged 62 and older) are more likely to just have one pet (42%) while Gen Xers are more likely to have three or more pets.

What People Do With Their Pets

If pets are members of the family, then they are entitled to certain things and pet owners make sure their pets get these things. Over two-thirds (69%) of pet owners let their pets sleep in the bed with them, with women more likely then men to share their bed with their pet (72% versus 64%). Gen Xers are also more likely to share their bed as almost three-quarters (74%) let their pet sleep with them. Also, cats are more likely to get on the bed then dogs (78% versus 70%).

Pet owners are also present buyers. Almost two-thirds (65%) have bought their pet a holiday present and over one-third (37%) have bought their pet a birthday present. Dogs get presents more than cats do. Seven in ten (71%) of dog owners have bought their pet a holiday present compared to 63 percent of cat owners. The same is true for birthday presents as 42 percent of dog owners have gotten a present for their pet compared to one-third (33%) of cat owners.

Further down on the list of what people do for their pets is cooking especially for them (23% of pet owners have done so), dressing them in some type of clothing (18%) and being taken to work (10%). Cooking for your pet is something one does as they get older as three in ten (31%) of Mature pet owners have cooked especially for their pet compared to just 14 percent of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-30) who have pets. While dogs may get more presents, cats may get the last laugh. Only 14 percent of cat owners have dressed their pet in some type of clothing compared to almost one-quarter (23%) of dog owners.

So What?

Pets bring happiness to so many and, so often, many pets, particularly dogs, bring unconditional love. In return, they may not ask for much, but it seems like they get much from their owners. Pets are members of the family and they get presents and, in some cases, they are cooked for, just like any other family member. That’s probably not too much to give for that feeling of joy when the front door is open and that Cocker Spaniel or Calico is waiting there to greet you after a hard day.

TABLE 1

HAVING A PET

"Do you currently have a pet?"

Base: All Adults

 

Total

%

All Adults

63

Gender  
Men

57

Women

68

Region  
East

58

Mid West

67

South

63

West

63

Age  
Echo boomers (18-30)

59

Gen X (31-42)

71

Baby Boomers (43-61)

67

Matures (62+)

50

Race/Ethnicity  
White

67

African-American

35

Hispanic

68

Education  
High School or less

66

Some college

64

College graduate

57

Post graduate

54

Income/Household  
$34,999 or less

60

$35,000 – $49,999

56

$50,000 – $74,999

67

$75,000 +

68

Party ID  
Republican

66

Democrat

60

Independent

62

TABLE 2

TYPE OF PET

"What type of pet do you have?"

Base: Has a pet

 

Total

Generation

Echo Boomers (18-30)

Gen X (31-42)

Baby Boomers (43-61)

Matures (62+)

%

%

%

%

%

Dog

70

66

68

74

71

Cat

52

50

54

54

48

Fish

15

17

21

14

4

Bird

7

5

6

8

11

Other

12

17

22

8

2

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

TABLE 3

NUMBER OF PETS

"In total, how many pets do you currently have?"

Base: Has a pet

 

Total

Generation

Echo Boomers (18-30)

Gen X (31-42)

Baby Boomers (43-61)

Matures (62+)

%

%

%

%

%

One

35

38

28

35

42

Two

25

23

23

25

29

Three

13

14

15

11

16

Four

7

9

12

7

1

Five

6

7

9

5

2

Six or more

13

10

14

16

10

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

TABLE 4

PET AS MEMBER OF FAMILY

"Do you consider your pet to be a member of your family?"

Base: Has a pet

 

Total

Gender

Type of pet

Male

Female

Dog

Cat

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

88

84

93

93

89

No

7

10

5

4

6

Not sure

4

6

2

3

6

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

TABLE 5

THINGS PET OWNERS DO FOR THEIR PETS

"How often have you done any of the following?"

Base: Has a pet

 

Frequently/ Occasionally (NET)

Frequently

Occasionally

Rarely/ Never (NET)

Rarely

Never

Not sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Allowed my pet to sleep in the bed with me

69

54

15

31

9

22

*

Bought my pet a holiday present

65

40

25

35

11

23

1

Bought my pet a birthday present

37

19

17

63

12

51

1

Cooked especially for my pet

23

9

14

76

20

57

1

Dressed my pet in some type of clothing

18

7

11

82

16

66

*

Took my pet to work with me

10

5

5

89

8

81

*

* Less Than 0.5%

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

TABLE 6

THINGS PET OWNERS DO FOR THEIR PETS – BY GENDER AND GENERATION

"How often have you done any of the following?"

Those saying "Frequently/Occasionally"

Base: Has a pet

 

Total

Gender

Generation

Type of pet

Male

Female

Echo Boomers (18-30)

Gen X (31-42)

Baby Boomers (43-61)

Matures (62+)

Dog

Cat

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Allowed my pet to sleep in the bed with me

69

64

72

62

74

70

67

70

78

Bought my pet a holiday present

65

63

66

54

68

69

65

71

63

Bought my pet a birthday present

37

36

37

37

34

40

32

42

33

Cooked especially for my pet

23

17

27

14

19

27

31

29

18

Dressed my pet in some type of clothing

18

13

22

20

21

19

8

23

14

Took my pet to work with me

10

8

12

7

12

12

10

12

9

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 7 and 13, 2007 among 2,455 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,547 have a pet. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
J32641
Q755, 760, 765, 770, 775

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=840

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