A nation of animal lovers: pet ownership in Britain today

cats, dogs, Lockdown, pet ownership -

A nation of animal lovers: pet ownership in Britain today

A new poll by Attest has revealed what we probably knew all along, Britain is still a nation of animal lovers. 65% of British pet owners have dogs and 41% have cats. More than half of pet owners let their pets sleep in their bed and think nothing of buying the best pet food for their ‘fur babies.’ 

More time at home and space to re-evaluate what is important played a key part in 11% of Brits deciding to get a new pet during the pandemic. Most pet owners (40%) have just the one pet at home, followed by 2 pets (21%) and 3 pets (5%).

Whilst cats and dogs are clearly the most popular pet, 11% of us own fish, 6% have rabbits, 3% keep birds and 3% own reptiles. Many pets are considered to be ‘one of the family.’ In fact, they are often treated better than family members!

58% of respondents admitted that they buy Christmas and birthday presents for their pets, 18% cook for their pets and 38% say they take their pets with them whenever they can. With more people ‘staycationing’ here in the UK, more people than ever are taking their pets on holiday with them, and dogs are becoming more common in the workplace as lockdown pups that are not used to being left home alone accompany their owners into the office.

Sausage dog photo by Dominika Roseclay on PexelsSausage dog photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels

Speaking about the survey, CEO of Attest, Jeremy King said: 

“This research confirms what we already know: pets are important family members. Brits make a significant effort to make animals feel a part of everyday life – from birthday celebrations to home-cooked food and regular outings. For those in the pet goods space, Brits’ love of their furry friends presents major opportunities especially for bricks and mortar outlets given that the majority of pet owners make their purchases there.”

Pet ownership during the pandemic

We’ve spoken a lot on the blog about people purchasing more dogs and cats during the pandemic and the impact this has had upon both people and their pets. During this time pet ownership in the UK rose to 59% and it is estimated that in the UK right now there around 10.8 million cats and 12 million dogs living in UK homes. It appears that the bond between humans and animals has only grown stronger during this time, with many choosing to pamper their pets and treat them more like one of the family. 

Puppy photo by Pixabay on PexelsPuppy photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Happiness and Companionship

A 2020 survey asked dog owners why they owned a dog. Everyone that responded said it was either because having a dog made them happier and/or kept them company. 51% stated ‘because they make me happy’; 47% said their dogs provided ‘love and affection’ and 35% stated their dogs provided ‘companionship’.

Cats photo by Francesco Ungaro on PexelsCats photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels

Because I owned one before

According to research by the Cats Protection Charity, these were also key reasons for cat ownership, with the three primary reasons given for owning a cat being ‘happiness’, ‘love and affection’ and ‘because they had owned one before’. Each cat-owning household has an average of 1.5 cats. 65% of owners in the UK identify their cats as ‘moggies’, 23% as pedigrees and 5% as cross-breeds. There appears to be an increasing trend towards pedigree cats – five years ago, 74% were moggies compared to just 51% in the last year.

During the pandemic when cat owners were spending more time at home with their cats, they were playing with them more. But also giving them more treats. 67% of owners reported that they spoilt their cat, up from 64% in the previous year. 17% of owners said they gave more treats due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly younger cat owners. But owners are less likely to report that their cats are overweight than a vet looking at the same animal, so perhaps it’s time to take off those rose-tinted glasses and put the treats away!

The increased time that owners spent with their cats over the last 12 months appears to have had a positive effect on cat behaviour, with fewer cats demonstrating stress-related behaviour such as peeing indoors or hiding away.

Kitty photo by Pixabay on PexelsKitty photo by Pixabay on Pexels

How many pets have you got at home – did you purchase a pandemic pup or a Covid kitty? As always, let us know in the comments section below!

Main pic: Saluki by Ron Lach on Pexels

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