Families still make up the most of U.S. dog and cat owners, but the gap between them and single men and women has significantly narrowed over the last five years, the American Veterinary Medical Association says.
Single women and men with cats grew by 16.6%, from 46.9 to 54.7%, from 2006 to 2011, according to the AVMA. During the same time, families with cats and dogs grew by just 1.37%, from 65.5 to 66.4%.
Other trends documented in the same survey include:
• Pet ownership among divorced, widowed and separated adults grew by 17.7%, from 51.3 to 60.4%
• The number of single men living alone with pets increased by 27.7%, from 34.3 to 43.8%
• The number of single women living alone with pets increased by 22%, from 46.8 to 57.1%
The findings, reported March 14, were based on data from the AVMA’s 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. The resource was released in December, but the Schaumburg, Ill.-based AVMA continues to report specific findings.
“It’s interesting to see that more and more single people are discovering the comfort and satisfaction that owning a pet can offer,” said Douglas Aspros, DVM, president of the AVMA.
The study indicated that single pet owners are more likely to view pets as family members, while families more often relegate pets to companion or property status.
Dr. Aspros addressed the impressive growth of dog and cat ownership among single men.
“For now, it’s true that more single women own pets than single men, but this survey shows us that this may be changing,” he said. “By studying these demographic trends better, the AVMA wants to help veterinarians to better serve our clients and keep pets healthy.”
As for less-encouraging news: Veterinarian visitation showed signs of waning.
One in four pet-owning households did not visit a veterinarian in 2011, a nearly 7% increase over 2006.
“Veterinarians can use this information to reach out to these growing segments of our clientele to help reverse this trend of decreasing veterinary care for our pets,” Aspros stated.
“Families, no matter what size, need to bring their pets into a veterinarian at least once a year to maintain optimal health.”