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Americans and Their Pets; Americans are more likely to say they are "dog people" than "cat people".

Byline: Frank Newport, Jeffrey M. Jones, Lydia Saad, and Joseph Carroll

Synopsis: Six in 10 Americans own some type of pet, with 44% having a dog and 29% a cat. Americans are much more likely to describe themselves as "dog people" rather than "cat people," including those who own both. Most pet owners -- particularly dog owners -- report that they've given their pets Christmas presents in the past.

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Lifestyle Poll, conducted each December, asks Americans about their attitudes and behaviors toward pets. Here are 10 interesting facts about Americans and their pets derived from this study:

1. Six in 10 Americans own some type of pet. Forty-four percent of Americans own a dog and 29% own a cat. Among pet owners, 73% own a dog and 49% own a cat.

Pet ownership among the American public breaks down this way: 27% own a dog but not a cat, 12% own a cat but not a dog, 17% own both, 3% own pets other than cats or dogs, and 40% do not own any pets.

2. Aside from dogs and cats, 10% of Americans own a fish and much smaller percentages own birds (5%), reptiles, snakes, or lizards (2%), hamsters and guinea pigs (2%), horses (2%), and rabbits (1%).

3. Dogs tend to live with their owners without other canine companions; cats are a bit more likely to share their owner's home with fellow felines. Most dog owners, 59%, have just one dog, while cat owners are as likely to have multiple cats (51%) as they are to have just one (49%).

4. By a 70% to 20% margin, Americans describe themselves as "dog persons" rather than "cat persons." This includes a 68% to 19% margin among people who own both a cat and dog, and a 68% to 18% preference among those who own neither. Only pet owners with a cat and no dogs routinely call themselves "cat people" (69% to 26%).

5. Sixty-eight percent of American pet owners have given toys or presents to their pets on Christmas. When Gallup asked that question in 1990, the figure was similar (65%). Rover is especially likely to be rewarded during the holidays: 76% of dog owners say they have given toys or presents to their pets on Christmas, compared with 46% of pet owners who do not have a dog. While 67% of cat owners also say they have given Christmas presents to their pets, this drops to just 54% of cat owners who do not also have a dog.

6. Americans believe pets are good for their owners. Sixty percent of Americans think pet owners lead more satisfying lives than non-pet owners, while only 3% say pet owners lead less satisfying lives; one-third of Americans say it makes no difference or have no opinion.

7. Pets are not as common a companion for single people; people who are married are much more likely to own cats and dogs than those who are not.

8. People with young children are more likely than people without young children to own both dogs and cats.

9. Despite research showing that pets can be beneficial to seniors' health and well-being, dog ownership and cat ownership both decline with age. Also, pet ownership is lowest in the Eastern portion of the United States. And, non-whites are much less likely to own pets than are whites.

10. Walking the dog is more fun than it is work for many dog owners. Most dog owners (70%) take their dog for at least one walk per day, with the average duration of that walk being about 17 minutes. Dog owners seem to enjoy this time with their pets -- 85% of those who take their dog on daily walks say it is a pleasant experience for them, while 13% describe it as "a chore."

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,010 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 11-14, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For results based on the sample of 584 pet owners, the maximum margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 290 cat owners, the maximum margin of sampling error is 6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 420 dog owners, the maximum margin of sampling error is 5 percentage points.
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Article Details
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Author:Newport, Frank; Jones, Jeffrey M.; Saad, Lydia; Carroll, Joseph
Publication:Gallup Poll News Service
Article Type:Survey
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 21, 2006
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