Pet Ownership Survey Results...!

Most people consider their pets to be family members or
companions, not property; and spending on veterinary
care has increased. Yet, veterinary visits per pet have
declined, & cats are not receiving the same care as dogs.

About 49.7 percent of survey respondents consider pets to
be family, and 48.2 percent consider pets to be
companions. The remaining 2.1 percent consider pets to
be property.

Households that consider dogs to be family, averaged
three veterinary visits, for example, in comparison with 2.2
visits for households that consider dogs to be pets or
companions and 1.1 visits for households that consider
dogs to be property.

Ownership of cats and dogs has increased during the past
decade, not only in numbers of households but also in
percentages of households. More households owned dogs
than cats in 2006, but cat-owning households owned an
average of 2.2 cats while dog-owning households owned
an average of 1.7 dogs. The total population was 81.7
million pet cats and 72 million pet dogs.

Dog-owning households that spent $1,000 or more in a
year, for example, jumped from 2.2 percent to 8.4 percent.

Veterinary spending per cat has hardly changed in the
past decade, even as people continue to own more cats
than dogs. On average, dogs and cats are visiting
veterinarians less frequently.

Dogs averaged 1.5 visits down from 1.9 visits in previous
years. Cats averaged 0.7 visits, down from one visit on
average in earlier year. Only 63.7 percent of cat-owning
households had at least one veterinary visit in 2006.
Dr. Hammer attributed the drop in visits partially to the
transition in progress at many clinics from annual
vaccinations to a three-year protocol.

The percentage of dog-owning and cat-owning households
that reported no veterinary expenditures increased in the
past decade, from 17.4 percent to 20.9 percent for dog
owners and from 33.2 percent to 39.2 percent for cat
owners.

While the number of cat-owning households has
increased, the number of veterinary visits by cat-owning
households fell from 70.8 million in 2001 to 63.3 million in
2006.

Dr. Creighton doesn't know why cats are visiting
veterinarians less frequently, but she noted the disparity
between cats and dogs in veterinary care. Veterinary visits
and spending are highest for dogs in dog-only
households—followed by dogs in households with a cat or
cats, cats in cat-only households, and cats in households
with a dog or dogs.

The three-year vaccine schedule may contribute to the
decline in veterinary visits for cats. On the other hand, she
said, moving away from vaccination as the sole trigger for
a visit frees veterinarians to focus on the merits of the
wellness visit for disease prevention and early intervention.

The statistics confirming that cats visit veterinarians much
less often than dogs do also were striking. Improving that
frequency would lead to overall increased longevity and
health for cats.

The survey on exotic pets reveal that fewer households
owned pet birds - but more households owned "pet
horses." The population of pet fish rose from 49.3 million
to 75.9 million, while pet turtles have increased from 1.1
million to 2 million.

Horse and bird owners, like cat and dog owners, feel a
bond with their animals. About 38.4 percent of horse
owners consider their horses to be family, and 56.5
percent consider horses to be pets or companions. About
51.3 percent of bird owners consider their birds to be
family, and 46.9 percent consider birds to be pets or
companions.
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