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?
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.
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.
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