Our Pets and Us: From the US Census

three kids in stream with dog
My great niece and nephews with their dog Bingo splashing through Robinson Run.

I love data that helps me find out more about the world around me, so for that reason I love the US Census and it’s one of the reasons I’ve always been happy to participate in it. That probably sounds strange but getting data from its source is a valuable thing to do. We find out so much about where people live and work, what they buy and what they like to do, and when you put everyone’s numbers together it’s a pretty comprehensive picture of who we all are.

The US Census offers a daily audio/video one-minute segment called Profile America in which they compile brief stories of interesting and topical data. Today their feature was “Companionable Animals” in honor of “Be Kind to Animals Week” and gives a brief synopsis of data gathered from the census about pet owners with links to other resources.

Profile America — Friday, May 9th. This is a time to recognize those nonhuman friends who add a special dimension to our lives — it’s Be Kind to Animals Week and National Pet Week. While pets are a source of companionship, many dogs provide protection and act as eyes for the blind, as well as helping other disabled owners. Less is expected of cats, who keep humans as household staff. Dogs are found in well over one-third of U.S. homes, cats in slightly less than one-third. Those favoring cats usually have more of them, thus there are 74 million household cats versus about 70 million dogs. Among other companion animals, we have over 8 million birds, 3.3 million rabbits, and 1.1 million lizards. Animal food manufacturing is a $39 billion a year business in the U.S. for some 1,800 establishments. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>. Click here to listen.

Also included in that segment is a link to an AVMA study showing US Pet Ownership Statistics from 2012 with a little more detail. The statistics for cats are as follows:

Cats
Percent of households owning 30.4%
Number of households owning 36,117,000
Average number owned per household 2.1
Total number in United States 74,059,000

Data from U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics, AVMA website

The chart also gives data for dogs, birds and horses, then also gives a list of exotic pets:

  • Fish
  • Ferrets
  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Gerbils
  • Other Rodents
  • Turtles
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Other Reptiles
  • Poultry
  • Livestock
  • All others

On this list fish are the most popular by far, followed by rabbits, then turtles, then poultry. I was surprised to see poultry above small animals such as ferrets, hamsters and guinea pigs since many families with children adopt them and usually have more than one, but I guess keeping a few chickens in the back yard has really caught on! You can read the rest of that study on the AVMA website.

Wherever we live, as citizens in this country sharing our lives with pets is a nationwide habit. Whatever else we may not have in common, we certainly love our pets and enjoy living with animals of all sorts.


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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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