Since 2001, nearly 1,000 people have applied to Guinness World Records with claims to have the oldest pet for its species, says a recent FT Magazine article that looks into the growing obsession with pets' ages.
With overall pet spending in the US of more than US$50 billion in 2011, according to the American Pet Products Association, pets are being treated to better veterinary care as owners become more attached to their pets and try to keep them alive as long as possible.
“During the 20th century, human life expectancy increased 30 percent, [due to] clean food, water, hygiene. The same thing has happened, no doubt, to pets,” says Steven Austad, a professor and expert in ageing at the University of Texas.
“The feeling is that pet animals are living longer,” says Dan Brockman, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College. “We certainly see more old cats in particular, and old dogs. The three cornerstones are the genetic coding, better understanding of nutritional needs and the care [the animals] receive.”