Survey: Pets Substitute for Kids in Tough Times

Cash-strapped couples in the U.K. are putting off starting a family.

Posted: Dec. 2, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

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Tabby cat and dog
A cat, dog or other pet are seen as substitutes to starting a family, according to a survey in the United Kingdom.
Couples in Britain are making plans to start a family by bringing a new cat or dog into the home, not a baby, according to a new survey. The preference for a pet instead of a child indicates a desire to save money during a tough economic climate, said the company behind the survey.

Petplan, a U.K.-based pet insurance provider, conducted the survey, which found that nearly 60 percent of people said they would put off starting a family during the current economic downturn. However, one-quarter of those said they would invest in a pet instead.

The decision to put family life on hold in favor of looking after a four-legged friend was equally divided between men and women. The top 10 most popular “child substitutes,” according to the survey:

  1. Dog
  2. Cat
  3. Rabbit
  4. Guinea Pig
  5. Rat
  6. Hamster
  7. Mouse
  8. Gerbil
  9. Reptile
  10. Bird 

A total of 3,000 pet owners responded to the survey.

“It seems that pets of all shapes and sizes are now being considered a perfectly sensible alternative to starting a family for cash-strapped couples,” a Petplan spokesperson said in a statement. “We know that many owners develop very strong emotional ties to their pets that are often treated as part of the family. But we do urge all would-be pet owners to understand that pet ownership does come with responsibilities, just like parenthood.”

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Reader Comments

momo    anaheim, CA

12/2/2008 10:39:31 PM

great article.
pets are a great addition to the household.

Guen    Near Philly, PA

12/2/2008 8:22:39 PM

I'm single..never married,no kids. My divorced bro lives with me. We both love cats.His kitty passed away from lymphoma in 2007 but I have two kitties that are my kids. It's a happy household & the cats behave better than a LOT of my school students!

Cyan    Boulder, CO

12/2/2008 7:59:41 PM

Good article

Sue    Springfield, IL

12/2/2008 6:06:36 PM

Pets do make for a very happy household, especially cats!

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