Who’s most likely to own a cat and/or a dog in the USA?

It is interesting to know who is most likely to own a cat and/or dog in the USA. It helps us better understand the relationship between these companion animals and humans and whether cats and dogs improve our health or if cat and dog owners already have improved health.

Asian guy with black cat
Asian guy with black cat. Photo: Pinterest
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The ongoing California Health Interview Survey begun in 2001 can provide some pointers because as well asking the usual questions, the forty-two thousand adults interviewed where asked about dog and cat ownership. The study used ‘odds ratios’ which point to the likelihood or not of individuals having pets. I suspect people will say that California is non-representative of the USA but the information does provide indicators.

Here are some of their findings:

About 50% of the people interviewed lived with a pet. Twenty-six percent owned a dog and 22% owned a cat while 9% owned a cat and a dog.

Being married increases the likelihood of owning a cat or dog. The odds of a married person having a dog increased by 34% compared to an unmarried person. For cat ownership the increase was much smaller at 9%. For me this seems to reflect the classic image of cats keeping single people company, often women.

Women are more likely to keep pets. Women are 8% more likely to own a dog than men and 16% more likely to own a cat. My thought: this seems to debunk the classic image of man and his dog.

As for the colour of your skin, whites were around 3 times more likely to own a dog and 5 times more likely to own a cat compared to non-whites. Further, the study found that black people are half (50%) as likely to own a dog and less than 33% as likely to own a cat as others. Hispanics and Asians were similar to blacks in this regard. Note: I have asked myself why this should be. One possibility is superstition about the domestic cat.

Homeowners are more likely have cats and dogs. In fact three times (300%) more likely to own a dog and 60% more likely in respect of cats. Note: there is a big difference between cats and dogs here. It seems to me that cats are more likely to be owned by people who rent and who are more transient (moving about and on the fringe) whereas dog owners are more mainstream.

Perhaps people who are not ideally placed to have a pet due to monetary and personal circumstance choose a cat over a dog because they are perceived as low maintenance. This is also one reason why cats are taken to the vet less often than dogs. This leads nicely onto the final finding that people with some money (wealthy) are significantly more likely to own a cat or dog than poor people.

Do these findings tell us that pet ownership improves the health of owners….please read the next page.

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