It's no secret that America has a love affair with pets. Pet owners treat their household pets like children. In fact, more than one-half of pet owners in the US report buying gifts for their pets, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's (APPMA) 2007-2008 Pet Owners Survey.
The year-end holiday season is the most frequent gift-giving occasion for US pet owners, with this breakdown:
One of the most popular types of pet gifts is treats, says the survey. As many as 90% of US dogs receive treats, followed by 82% of birds, 79% of small animals and 69% of cats. On average, dog owners spend US$66 per year on treats.
Pet ownership growing
In terms of ownership, 63% of US households own at least one pet, according to the APPMA survey. This percentage has remained steady in recent years; the number of pet-owning households has grown at the same rate2.8%as the number of overall US households.
Many in the US own more than one pet, with 46% of dog owners reporting they also own a cat and 40% of cat owners reporting they also own a dog. While dogs and cats are by far the most popular types of US pets, freshwater fish, birds, reptiles and small animals have steady rates of ownership.
The APPMA survey uncovers other interesting trends. For example, 64% of US dog owners and 58% of US cat owners report feeding their pets specially formulated foods. For dogs, the most frequently fed type of food is one formulated for middle-aged pets, at 16%, followed by one formulated to maintain a healthy coat (14%), one formulated for senior pets (12%) and foods formulated for puppies or weight control (both at 10%).
US cats are most likely to eat foods specially formulated for kittens (55%), followed by ones formulated to manage hairballs (34%), foods for indoor pets (20%) and foods for senior pets (13%).
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.