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50 years of…Pet Ownership!

Did you know that an incredible 59% of UK households now own a pet of some sort or other? With levels of pet ownership rising by a whopping 18% over the last year.

Given the massive popularity of owning your very own pet, have you ever thought about how people’s attitudes to pet ownership have changed over the last 50 years? 

Our choice of favourite types of pets has changed over the years, although cats and dogs have remained popular throughout the decades.

Back in the 1970s, if you were a lucky pet owner, you’d most likely have a dog or a cat. This is reflected again today in responses to research about owning pets in 2020/21 – dogs and cats were still the most popular to own by far. 

The third most popular type of pet – the indoor bird – has seen its reputation decline massively. If you owned a pet in the 1970s, you’d be four times more likely to own an indoor bird (think budgerigar popularity) than if you’re a pet owner nowadays. 

Just as the sheer numbers of pets in the UK has gone up over the last five decades, so has the choice of animal from which to pick your purrfect pet buddy.

In the 1970s, people talked about owning a dog, a cat, a bird or, if you were feeling more exotic, maybe even a tortoise. Nowadays, the variety of animals kept as pets has grown significantly – with snakes, insects, lizards, rats, and even newts making the ranking on the popular pet list of today. 

How we treat our pets has also undergone a dramatic change over the years. Pets are now seen as an extension of our families, as family members to be treated as such.

Nowadays our pets are a big part of our everyday lives – the rise of ‘pet hotels’, ‘doggy daycare’, and ‘pet pamper sessions’ show how highly we think of our beloved pets and their wellbeing.    

Whilst the rise of the celebrity pet is nothing new (think Anne Boleyn and her lap dog; the Queen and her corgis; George Clooney and his pot-bellied pig), fifty years ago, who would have thought that social media would allow you to earn money from your pet? 

Instagram fame can provide huge money these days – with a sponsored post apparently allowing popular Insta pets to earn $15,000 or more. The famous (and extremely relatable) ‘Grumpy Cat’ spawned not just merchandise and memes, but also a TV movie after her pictures went viral, proving beyond all doubt that beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Compared to 50 years ago, more of us share our lives with pets, and there are a much greater variety of pets to share our lives with. 

Nowadays, we’re more likely to think of pets as part of our family, and therefore potentially more likely to think about their health and wellbeing than during the 1970s. 

With the dazzling array of pet types to choose from, it’s more important than ever to think about what sort of pet might fit best with our everyday lives, and what sort of animal might benefit best from the lifestyle that we can offer them. 

That’s where the NAWT guide on getting a pet can help. If you or anyone you know are thinking about getting a new pet, have a read of the NAWT guide to find out what you should be considering before making your choice.