Happily, Dogs and Cats Are No Worse Than Before

Polls often show people complaining that standards of human behavior have been in decline. This helps explain why pets are so popular: Nobody ever says dogs and cats are more badly behaved nowadays than in earlier generations. Compared to humans, then, other species seem more congenial than ever. Setting the issue in this context, we needn’t be surprised to learn from a Maritz Marketing Research survey that a majority of Americans (56 percent) own a dog or cat. Among 35-54-year-olds, the ownership rate climbs to 67 percent, versus 54 percent of the 18-24 contingent and46 percent of those 55 and older. If there’s a surprise in the responses, it’s that so many Americans own multiple pets. While 65 percent of dog owners have a canine only child, 24 percent have two dogs, 4 percent own three and 7 percent have four or more. Slightly more than half of cat owners have more than one feline: 27 percent own two, 12 percent own three and 13 percent have four or more. The poll didn’t ask whether a pet benefits from having a child around the house. But it did find 59 percent of respondents agreeing “completely” that children benefit from having a dog or cat. Likewise, 66 percent agreed completely that people who live alone would benefit from having a dog or cat.