Pets Aren’t Just Animals; They are Members of the Family

NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 13, 2012 – Americans have always had interesting relationships with their pets – whether those pets are cats, dogs, parakeets or something else entirely. The pet industry is thriving, and for good reason: three in five Americans (60%) have a pet. Those in the West (68%), Generation Xers (66%), Hispanics (68%) and those with a household income of $75,000 or more (66% $75,000-99,999 / 68% $100,000+) are the groups most likely to be pet owners.

NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 13, 2012 – Americans have always had interesting relationships with their pets – whether those pets are cats, dogs, parakeets or something else entirely. The pet industry is thriving, and for good reason: three in five Americans (60%) have a pet. Those in the West (68%), Generation Xers (66%), Hispanics (68%) and those with a household income of $75,000 or more (66% $75,000-99,999 / 68% $100,000+) are the groups most likely to be pet owners.

Among these pet owners, dog owners are on top: two-thirds have a dog (67%), just over half have a cat (52%), about one in ten have a fish (12%), and less than one in ten pet owners have a bird (7%) or some other type of pet (9%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,634 adults surveyed online between May 7 and 15, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Single pet households or small zoos?

Looking at how many of each type of animal pet owners share their homes with, three in five dog owners have just one (61%), while almost three in ten (28%) have two dogs and more than one in ten (11%) have three or more dogs in the house. Cats are a little more likely to have some feline companionship: less than half of cat owners have just one cat (46%) while one-third have 2 cats (32%) and more than one in five (22%) have three or more cats.

Pets are family members

Over nine in ten pet owners (91%) say they consider their pet to be a member of their family -a sentiment that remains constant among both dog (94%) and cat (91%) owners.

It’s no empty sentiment – pet owners do many things to show their furry friends that they care:

– Half of pet owners (51%) say they frequently let their pet sleep in the bed with them, while less than one-quarter (22%) say they never do this.

– Pets also get presents: three in ten pet owners (31%) frequently purchase holiday presents for their pet, while another three in ten (31%) occasionally do so. Additionally, just under one in five pet owners (18%) frequently buy their pets birthday presents and 22% do so occasionally.

– Pets are probably happy that their owners don’t do two things: two-thirds of pet owners (65%) say they have never dressed their pet in some type of clothing and four in five (82%) say they have never taken their pet to work with them. If the dog or cat goes to work, how will they spend the day lying around on the couch?

So What?

Even in a faltering economy, 2012 pet industry spending is expected to outpace 2011, which in turn eclipsed 2010. In fact, consumer spending in this industry has increased every year for well over a decade. And, nothing may be as important as the type of food that pet owners feed their loved ones. Almost one-quarter (24%) of pet owners cook for their furry friends, and picking the right food for those not cooking is very important. This year’s Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study declared a dog food and cat food brand of the year and American pet owners are so careful with what they purchase for their pets. With the majority of Americans seeing their family units as extending to their furry, feathered or scaled roomies, the industry is likely to see continued growth into the future.


TABLE 1

HAVING A PET

Do you currently have a pet?

Percent answering Yes

Base: All Adults

Total 2007

Total 2011

Total

2012

%

%

%

All Adults

63

62

60

Gender

 

Men

57

55

56

Women

68

69

64

Region

 

East

58

61

56

Midwest

67

54

61

South

63

66

57

West

63

65

68

Age

 

Echo Boomers (18-35)

59

63

62

Gen X (36-47)

71

70

66

Baby Boomers (48-66)

67

63

64

Matures (67+)

50

46

39

Race/Ethnicity

 

White

67

66

63

African-American

35

32

40

Hispanic

68

65

68

Education

 

High School or less

66

64

59

Some college

64

64

63

College graduate

57

59

61

Post graduate

54

56

54

Income/Household

 

$34,999 or less

60

57

56

$35,000 – $49,999

56

62

65

$50,000 – $74,999

67

63

60

$75,000 – $99,999

NA

64

66

$100,000+

NA

66

68

Note: In 2007, the data for respondents with an income of over $74,999 was broken out differently.


 

TABLE 2

TYPE OF PET

What type of pet do you have?

Base: Has a pet

Total

2007

Total 2011

Total

2012

%

%

%

Dog

70

69

67

Cat

52

51

52

Fish

15

11

12

Bird

7

7

7

Other

12

8

9

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 3

NUMBER OF PETS

How many of each type of pet do you have?

Base: Has the type of pet specified

Dog(s)

Cat(s)

Bird(s)

Fish

Other

%

%

%

%

%

1

61

46

53

35

44

2

28

32

22

12

31

3

6

11

4

9

5

4

2

4

6

7

8

5

1

2

2

8

2

6 or more

2

4

13

29

11

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

 

 

TABLE 4

PET AS MEMBER OF FAMILY – BY YEAR, GENDER & TYPE OF PET

Do you consider your pet(s) to be a member of your family?

Base: Has a pet

Total

2007

Total 2011

Total

2012

Gender

Has a Pet

Male

Female

Dog

Cat

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

88

91

91

89

92

94

91

No

7

7

6

8

5

4

6

Not sure

4

2

3

3

3

2

3

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

67

51

16

33

11

22

 

Bought my pet a

holiday present

61

31

31

38

13

26

 

Bought my pet a

birthday present

40

18

22

59

11

48

1

Cooked especially

for my pet

24

10

14

75

17

58

1

Dressed my pet in

some type of clothing

19

7

12

80

15

65

 

Took my pet to work with me

10

5

5

89

7

82

1

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

signifies less than 1%


TABLE 6

THINGS PET OWNERS DO FOR THEIR PETS – BY GENERATION & TYPE OF PET

How often have you done any of the following?

Percent saying Frequently or Occasionally

Base: Has a pet

Total

2007

Total 2011

Total 2012

Generation

Has a pet

Echo Boomers (18-35)

Gen X (36-47)

Baby Boomers (48-66)

Matures (67+)

Dog

Cat

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Allowed my pet to sleep in the bed with me

69

70

67

70

68

62

70

66

77

Bought my pet a holiday present

65

60

61

65

64

58

56

69

61

Bought my pet a birthday present

37

36

40

50

41

34

31

47

37

Cooked especially for my pet

23

24

24

28

25

21

24

32

20

Dressed my pet in some type of clothing

18

16

19

28

21

13

10

26

16

Took my pet to work with me

10

11

10

18

9

6

4

14

11

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 May 7 and 15, 2012 among 2,634 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,585 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.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41826

Q805, 810, 815, 820, 826

 

The Harris Poll ® #54, September 13, 2012

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