Americans and Their Pets

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

Americans are more likely to say they are "dog people" than "cat people"

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

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 wellbeing, 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.

Pet Ownership by Groups
Dec. 11-14, 2006

Total pet
owner

Own
dog

Own
cat

%

%

%

18- to 49-year-olds

68

50

35

50- to 64-year-olds

57

43

29

65 years and older

43

33

17

 

 

 

East

51

35

29

Midwest

58

46

24

South

61

49

27

West

68

47

41

 

 

 

Whites

63

46

33

Non-whites

49

38

17

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.

29. In your opinion, do people who have household pets, such as dogs, cats, and birds lead a more satisfying life or a less satisfying life than people who do not have pets, or is there no difference?

More satisfying

Less satisfying

No difference

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2006 Dec 11-14

60

3

33

4

 

 

 

 

1995 Aug 7-9

63

2

31

4

1990 Jul 19-22

61

2

32

5

30. If you had to choose -- which would you say you are -- more of a dog person or more of a cat person?

           


Dog
person


Cat
person

BOTH
(vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

70%

20

5

5

*

 

 

 

 

 

1990 Jul 19-22

71%

21

4

3

1

31. Do you or any other household members have any pets in your home, such as dogs, cats, birds and the like?

           

Yes

No

No
answer

%

%

 

2006 Dec 11-14

60

40

*

 

 

 

2001 Dec 6-9

58

42

*

1995 Aug 7-9

61

39

--

1991 Sep 5-8

55

45

--

1990 Jul 19-22

58

42

--

1956 Jan 26-31

54

46

--

* Less than 0.5%

32. (Asked of pet owners) What pets do you have? Please mention all types of pets you have. [Open-ended]

BASED ON 584 PET OWNERS          

2006 Dec 11-14

2001 Dec 6-9

1995 Aug 7-9

%

%

%

Dog

73

66

56

Cat

49

52

41

Fish

16

10

11

Bird

8

9

8

Reptiles, snakes, lizards

3

3

--

Hamster, guinea pig

3

2

1

Horse

3

3

2

Rabbit

2

2

2

Other

7

5

4

No answer

*

--

--

* Less than 0.5%

Total adds to more than 100% due to multiple responses

33. (Asked of cat owners) How many cats do you own?

BASED ON 290 CAT OWNERS


1


2


3

4 or
more

No
opinion


Mean


Median

%

%

%

%

%

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

49

31

13

7

*

2.00

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001 Feb 19-21

52

25

10

11

2

2.05

1

1996 Aug 23-25

56

26

8

10

--

2.11

1

* Less than 0.5%

34. (Asked of dog owners) How many dogs do you own?

BASED ON 420 DOG OWNERS


1


2


3

4 or
more

No
opinion


Mean


Median

%

%

%

%

%

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

59

29

7

5

--

1.80

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001 Feb 19-21

62

23

6

7

1

1.96

1

1996 Aug 23-25

66

24

7

3

--

1.50

1

35. (Asked of dog owners) How many times a day, if any, do you or does someone in your household take your dog on a walk outside?

            BASED ON 420 DOG OWNERS

2006 Dec 11-14

%

None

26

Once

34

Twice

15

Three times

10

Four times

6

Five or more times

5

 

No opinion

3

 

Mean (including zero)

1.5

Median (including zero)

1

 

Mean (excluding zero)

2.1

Median (excluding zero)

2

36. (Asked of dog owners who walk their dog at least once a day) On average, about how many minutes do you spend on each walk with your dog?

COMBINED RESULTS (Q.35-36): BASED ON 420 DOG OWNERS

2006 Dec 11-14

%

Do not walk dog outside

29

Walk dog less than 10 minutes

14

Walk dog 10-15 minutes

19

Walk dog 16-20 minutes

25

Walk dog longer than 20 minutes

12

 

No opinion

*

 

Mean

16.6

Median

15

* Less than 0.5%

37. (Asked of dog owners who walk their dog at least once a day) Do you consider walking your dog to be -- [ROTATED: more of a chore you have to put up with (or) more of a pleasant experience you look forward to]?

BASED ON 420 DOG OWNERS


2006 Dec 11-14

Dog
owners

Dog
walkers ^

%

%

More of a chore

9

13

More of a pleasant experience

62

85

Do not walk dog

29

--

No opinion

*

3

 

 

* Less than 0.5%

^ Based on 296 dog owners who walk their dog at least once a day

38. (Asked of pet owners) Do you ever give toys or presents to your pet or pets on Christmas?

BASED ON 584 PET OWNERS

                       

Yes

No

No
opinion

 

 

 

2006 Dec 11-14

68%

31

*

 

 

 

1990 Jul 19-22

65%

35

--

* Less than 0.5%

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