While dogs have long been the most popular pet in the United States, cats are the pet of choice for many in the millennial generation, according to a survey conducted by Nestlé Purina.
Close to half of 1,000 survey respondents in the millennial age range (18 to 34) said they own cats.
Many also reported that they believe their cat is similar to themselves, considering their personalities to be independent, yet social. 57 percent of millennial cat owners said that their cat is as important in their lives as their friends, and two in five consider their cat to be their “best friend.”
More than 80 percent of millennial cat owners agree that one of the main reasons they own a cat is that their cat fits in well with their current lifestyle—perhaps because two-thirds of their cats stay entirely indoors. Two in five millennial cat owners said that they talk about their pets on social media.
According to the Pet Food Institute, the pet cat population in the U.S. is more than 73 million, or two million greater than the country’s pet dog population.
“People like cats because they are great pets; they provide comfort to their owners and, with appropriate socialization, they can be warm and friendly,” said Purina behaviorist Sandra Lyn. “In addition, they don’t need to be taken on walks or for bathroom breaks and they’re generally happy doing their own thing, though they do like attention and cuddling.”
Pet ownership may also fill a companionship gap left as millennials get married and have children later than baby boomers did, according to a Wakefield Research study.
“The relationship between pets and people is continuing to evolve,” Lyn said. “Through research and personal experience, the bond between pets and people can be viewed as an important part of improving quality of life.”