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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pet Owner Homes as Noah's Arks

There is a lot more to the pet population than dogs and cats.  American pet owners also live in the company of 116 million fish, birds, small animals and reptiles.  These pet owners account for 25% of all pet owners and represent big business for the pet industry.  They groom and board their birds, buy toys for their iguanas, purchase medications for their turtles, take their gerbils to the vet, decorate their fish tanks and, of course, buy food for all of the tens of millions of pets that they own besides their cats and dogs. 
One of the most striking aspects of the pet ownership patterns documented in Packaged Facts Pet Population Trends in the U.S.:  Fish, Birds, Small Animals and Reptiles is that millions of Americans create a veritable Noah’s ark of animal companions in their homes.  For example, besides animals such as snakes, iguanas, turtles and lizards, substantial numbers of reptile owners also have dogs (68%), cats (41%), fish (33%) and birds (9%).  Eighteen percent of bird owners have fish, and 13% of fish owners have rabbits.  The most inclusive pet households are those with rabbits.  More than half of rabbit owners also have fish, while 23% have birds, 44% own cats and 78% also count on canine companionship. 

Given the diversity of the population of pets in so many pet-owning households, cats often find themselves sharing space with animals such as birds and hamsters that might be expected to pop up on their radar screens as tempting, natural prey.  Yet, the 3.4 million bird owners who also have cats apparently are confident of being able to guard their Tweeties from their resident Sylvesters.  Or, could it be that—like the owners of the cockatoo and the cat in Unlikely Friendships, the best-selling book by Jennifer S. Holland—they learn how to create an environment where their birds and cats become best friends?

Hamsters are even more likely than birds to live in the presence of cats (62% vs. 41%), and nearly 90% of them are in households with children.  So, it seems safe to assume that, before turning in for the night, parents in the million or so households with cats and hamsters take care to check that the hamster cages in their kids’ bedrooms and their family rooms are securely locked.  Or so Packaged Facts devoutly hopes.
For information on Pet Population and Pet Owner Trends in the U.S.: Fish, Birds, Reptiles, and Small Animals, please visit:

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