According to data released by research firm GfK during Global Pet Expo 2015, millennials have supplanted baby boomers as the largest US pet-owning population. That means 35.2% of the US’ 75 million Millennials, defined by GfK as people age 18 to 34, own a pet, compared to 32.8% of Boomers. According to a study conducted by Purina, nearly half of pet owning millenials share their lives with cats.
According to Purina’s study,
- 3 in 5 millennial cat guardians identify themselves as a “cat lady” or a “cat man,”
- 88 percent say they share personality traits with their cat, and nearly the same number say they’re “in sync” with their cat,
- 57 percent consider their feline friends as important as the humans in their lives, and 2 in 5 say that sharing life with a cat means they have a new best friend, and
- 86 percent consider their cats to be a loyal companion, and 1 in 2 say they confide in them.
Additionally, the survey found that millennials, whether cat guardians or not, are filling up their friends’ newsfeeds with everything feline:
- Nearly 60 percent watch cat videos online,
- 50 percent admit to having shared cat memes online, and
- 2 in 5 cat owners talk about their cat(s) often on social media.
Do Millenials relate differently to cats than Baby Boomers?
This trend was discussed during one of the panels at the recent Better with Pets Summit. The panel, featuring Hal Herzog, a psychologist and anthrozoologist, Ragen McGowen, a Purina behaviorist, Christina Ha, the co-founder of New York City’s first cat café, Meow Parlour, and Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and researcher, highlighted some interesting differences in how millenials relate to cats as opposed to baby boomers (and I confess that as a member of the baby boomer generation, I cringed a little every time the panel referred to us as “older people.”)
One aspect of the research they presented that I found particularly fascinating as well as gratifying was that older cat guardians are less anxious about their relationship with their cats. They are more trusting than younger generations that their cats really do love them. Older cat guardians tend to be more patient with cats and let the cats come to them whereas younger cat guardians expect the cat to come to them. Not surprisingly, research shows that interaction between cats and humans last longer and is better when the human lets the cat initiate interaction.
Whatever fuels the growth in cat ownership (or should I say, being owned by cats) for millenials, whether it’s the fact that they tend to live in smaller living spaces, or whether cats are just better suited to their lifestyle, I find it encouraging that this generation is embracing sharing their lives with cats.
Then again, I’m always a little leery of generalizations, because quite frankly, I do all of the things the study revealed – and I’m much closer to being a baby boomer than I am to being a millenial!