In March 2019, the U.S.-focused General Social Survey (GSS) released the second half of its 2018 survey results, which included pet ownership data. In February 2020, people search and verification engine Nuwber took the pet data and analyzed it to confirm (or deny) various stereotypes about pet owners and pet ownership. What are the pet food industry’s key targets saying about themselves?
Unsurprisingly, the survey found that dog owners were more likely to live in the southern half of the U.S., while cat owners were more likely to be found in the northern half. The Pacific Northwest and New England in particular showed higher concentrations of cat owners than anywhere else — to the tune of a pet owner being 30–40% more likely to have a cat than a dog in these areas. Why? Weather, most likely. Dogs need exercise and walks and all the things pet owners don’t want to do at 6 a.m. in knee-deep snow or below-freezing wind chills. Cats, however, are mostly content to stay inside, making them an easier choice for pet lovers in cooler climates.
Having both a dog and cats, I can personally attest to the fact that dogs are, in general, the more expensive of the two. Their vet visits cost more (and tend to be more frequent), they need more food (especially the big ones) and their general upkeep is higher. It’s no surprise, then, that according to the survey, dog owners tend to make more than cat owners — or, at least, those in the higher income brackets are more likely to own dogs, while those in the lower brackets are more likely to own cats. In fact, cat owners edge out dog owners in every income bracket up to US$100,000. After that, dog owners consistently overtake cat owners.
Of course, more pet owners in general sit in the higher income brackets, as owning a pet is a luxury in terms of being able to devote the proper amount of time and resources (monetary and otherwise) to an animal. According to the data, 18.6% of dog owners and 18.7% of cat owners earn US$75,000–$99,999, and another 19.1% of dog owners and 18.6% of cat owners make US$100,000–$149,999.