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1211homespunweb.jpgRISMEDIA, Dec. 11, 2007-Whether it’s a Persian or a Papillion, Fido or Fluffy, pet owners believe their pets are members of their family. Almost nine in 10 (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.

These are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,455 adults surveyed online between November 7 and 13, 2007 by Harris Interactive®.

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% of Whites and 68% of Hispanics have a pet compared to just 35% 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% 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% 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% of those earning $75,000 or more.

Dog people outnumber cat people among U.S. pet owners. Seven in 10 pet owners have a dog compared to those who have a cat. One in six (15%) have fish while seven percent have a bird and 12% 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% 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% of cat owners. The same is true for birthday presents as 42% 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% of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-30) who have pets. While dogs may get more presents, cats may get the last laugh. Only 14% 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.

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.