Forget the stereotype of the pet-loving lady with a houseful of cats. Turns out many of today’s most passionate cat owners are millennials – nearly half of whom surveyed have a cat at home.

To better understand the relationship between young Americans and cats, Purina surveyed millennials in the United States (age range 18-34) in October 2015 and found:

  • 88% consider themselves similar to their cat, and nearly the same number say they’re “in sync” with their cat.
  • 57% consider their feline friends as important as the friends in their lives, and 2 in 5 say that owning a cat means they have a new best friend.
  • 86% consider their cats to be a loyal companion, and nearly 1 in 2 say they tell their cat secrets no one else knows.

“People like cats because they are great pets – they provide comfort to their owners and with appropriate socialization they can be warm and friendly,” said Purina behaviorist Sandra Lyn. “In addition, they don’t need to be taken on walks or for bathroom breaks and they’re generally happy doing their own thing, though they do like attention and cuddling. These personality traits could be a factor as to why cats are growing in popularity among millennials – cats are a great fit for their busy lifestyles.”

Further fueling millennial enthusiasm for cat ownership is social media. Nearly 60% of millennials watch cat videos online. And – reflecting this generation’s love of sharing – half have spread cat memes online, and nearly 2 in 5 talk about their cat(s) often on social media.

Though cats seem particularly well-suited for today’s lifestyles, many of the reasons millennials love them have remained constant for millennia:

“Living alone after college, getting a cat was one of the first things on my to-do list,” said Hayley Lynes, 23, of Chicago. “I wanted the comfort of a pet but also knew I didn’t have the lifestyle to take care of a dog. I have heard so many stereotypes that cats are ‘mean’ and ‘loners,’ but my experience with my cat, Tilly, can’t be further from that – she loves to cuddle!”