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Number and ownership profiles of cats and dogs in the UK

Authors:
  • Dogs Trust

Abstract and Figures

A random sample of 2980 households in the UK in 2007 showed that 26 per cent and 31 per cent of households owned cats and dogs, respectively. Households with gardens were more likely to own cats and dogs than households without gardens. Households in which someone was qualified to degree level were more likely to own cats and less likely to own dogs than other households. Cats were more likely to be owned by semi-urban/rural households and by female respondents. Dog ownership significantly decreased the likelihood of cat ownership, and respondents aged 65 years or more were less likely to report that their household owned a cat than younger respondents. Households with one or more dogs and children aged 11 to 15 years were more likely to own a cat than other households. The likelihood of dog ownership increased as household size increased. Dogs were more likely to be owned by rural households, and less likely to be owned by households with cats or children aged 10 years or younger. Female respondents and those aged less than 55 years were more likely to report dog ownership than other respondents. The estimated size (and 95 per cent confidence intervals) of the owned cat and dog populations in the UK in 2006 was 10,332,955 (9,395,642 to 11,270,269) cats and 10,522,186 (9,623,618 to 11,420,755) dogs.
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Number and ownership profiles of
cats and dogs in the UK
J. K. Murray, W. J. Browne, M. A. Roberts, A. Whitmarsh, T. J. Gruffydd-Jones
A random sample of 2980 households in the UK in 2007 showed that 26 per cent and
31 per cent of households owned cats and dogs, respectively. Households with gardens
were more likely to own cats and dogs than households without gardens. Households in
which someone was qualified to degree level were more likely to own cats and less likely
to own dogs than other households. Cats were more likely to be owned by semi-urban/
rural households and by female respondents. Dog ownership significantly decreased the
likelihood of cat ownership, and respondents aged 65 years or more were less likely to
report that their household owned a cat than younger respondents. Households with one
or more dogs and children aged 11 to 15 years were more likely to own a cat than other
households. The likelihood of dog ownership increased as household size increased.
Dogs were more likely to be owned by rural households, and less likely to be owned
by households with cats or children aged 10 years or younger. Female respondents and
those aged less than 55 years were more likely to report dog ownership than other
respondents. The estimated size (and 95 per cent confidence intervals) of the owned cat
and dog populations in the UK in 2006 was 10,332,955 (9,395,642 to 11,270,269) cats and
10,522,186 (9,623,618 to 11,420,755) dogs.
Veterinary Record (2010) 166, 163-168 doi: 10.1136/vr.b4712
CATS and dogs are popular pets in the UK. Reliable estimates of
the size of cat and dog populations are useful to those working
within the animal health and welfare professions, including rescue
charities, vets, pet insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies
and pet food manufacturers. However, estimates of the UK domestic
cat and dog population reported in the scientific literature were
calculated over 20 years ago (Thrusfield 1989), and periodic estimates
reported by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA)
(2008) have not specified the methodology used to estimate the
size of these populations. In 1989, Thrusfield published estimates
of approximately 6.2 million cats and 6.4 million dogs in the UK
during 1986. More recently, in 2007, the size of the UK domestic
cat and dog population was estimated to be 7.2 million cats and 7.3
million dogs (PFMA 2008); however, the reliability of these data
appears questionable given the variance of estimates published over
recent years. Knowledge of the sampling method is important as it
can influence estimates of the pet population. For instance, random
digit dialling surveys typically produce lower estimates than postal
surveys of non-randomly selected households (Patronek and Rowan
1995).
Statistical models have been used to predict the size of the pet
cat population in Australia (Baldock and others 2003) and the size
of the pet cat and dog populations in the USA (Nassar and Mosier
1991). Baldock and others (2003) used a modelling approach based
on life table data obtained by telephone surveys to predict the mean
size of the household cat population in Australia, together with the
minimum and maximum estimates based on the most likely value
±5 per cent. Studies have shown that the probability of a household
owning one or more cats or dogs is related to the number of people
that live in that household (Nassar and Mosier 1991, Westgarth and
others 2007), whereas the type of household (owned or rented) has
been shown to be related to dog ownership, and the type of dwell-
ing (single-family dwelling/other type of dwelling) was related to
cat ownership in two US regions (Nassar and Mosier 1986). Nassar
and Mosier (1991) explored the relationships between data relat-
ing to the number of household occupants and type of household
(owned or rented) obtained by survey and US census data, and
then used statistical models to estimate the size of pet cat and dog
populations.
The accuracy of population estimates derived from these differ-
ing methods is reflected by the width of their 95 per cent confidence
intervals (CIs); however, these are frequently not reported (for exam-
ple, Thrusfield 1989, Nassar and Mosier 1991, PFMA 2008), mak-
ing comparisons and critical evaluation of the usefulness of predicted
estimates difficult.
The aim of this study was to identify characteristics of dog-
owning and cat-owning households from a large cross-sectional study
and to use these data to estimate the size of the dog and cat popula-
tions in the UK, using a method that could easily be repeated to enable
pet ownership trends to be monitored.
Materials and methods
Data collection
A cross-sectional study was used to obtain data relating to cats and dogs
owned by households in the UK. A commercial company (Tracesmart)
J. K. Murray, BScEcon, MSc, PhD,
W. J. Browne, BSc, MSc, PhD,
A. Whitmarsh,
T. J. Gruffydd-Jones, BVetMed, PhD,
MRCVS,
Department of Clinical Veterinary
Science, University of Bristol, Langford
House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU
M. A. Roberts, BVM&S, MRCVS,
Cats Protection, National Cat Centre,
Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath,
Sussex RH17 7TT
E-mail for correspondence:
jane.murray@bristol.ac.uk
Provenance: not commissioned;
externally peer reviewed
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supplied contact details for a random sample of households listed on
the UK electoral roll (the electoral roll consists of adults over the age
of 18 who are eligible to vote and does not include travellers, active
serving forces members, some government personnel and non-British
citizens). Data were collected between July 16, 2007 and December
16, 2007 using a telephone questionnaire that was administered by
six trained interviewers. Households that were listed as ‘ex-directory’
or were registered with the Telephone Preferential Service (TPS) were
excluded from the sample. Telephone calls were made on weekday
evenings between 6 pm and 9 pm and at the weekends between 10
am and 5 pm. A maximum of three attempts were made to contact
each household. A total of 13,795 household telephone numbers
were used and contact was made with people from 8961 households.
Questionnaires were completed by 2980 householders, representing a
33.3 per cent response rate from households with which contact had
been made. In order to reduce response bias resulting from households
being informed that the study was about cats and dogs, the study was
described as a study of UK pets and it was stressed in the introduction
that the interviewers needed to speak to people who did not own
pets as well as those who did. Data were collected on the number of
cats and dogs owned by all respondents. Additional data relating to
cats were collected and have been reported elsewhere (Murray and
others 2009). Hence, questionnaires took approximately two to three
minutes to complete by households without cats and approximately
10 minutes to complete by cat-owning households. Closed questions
were predominantly used in the questionnaire and all data used in
the analyses reported in this study were collected through the use
of closed questions. A copy of the questionnaire is available on the
University of Bristol website (www.vetschool.bris.ac.uk/projects/
NeuteringQuestionnaire072007.swf), and further details of the
questionnaire administration have been documented elsewhere
(Murray and others 2009).
Analysis of characteristics of dog-owning and
cat-owning households
Outcomes
The outcomes under investigation in this study were the ownership
by a household of one or more cat and/or one or more dog.
Potential risk factors
Data relating to potential risk factors associated with the household
(summarised in Table 1) were collected during the telephone
questionnaire that was completed for each respondent.
Statistical analysis
Potential risk factors were tested for association with dog or cat
ownership using univariable logistic regression models. The
statistical package Egret (Cytel Software Corporation) was used
for data analysis. Variables with a univariable P value of <0.2
were considered for inclusion in a multivariable model, which
was built using the technique of backward elimination. In order
to improve the fit of the model (assessed by the change in deviance)
and to minimise the degree of freedom, some variable categories
were combined (for example, urban and semi-urban locations)
if the categories were considered similar in nature. The effect of
biologically plausible interactions between variables was also tested
for in the model.
Power of the study
The study had 80 per cent power to detect odds ratios (ORs) of 1.5
or greater, based on a 0.05 probability of a type 1 error (95 per cent
confidence) and assuming that 10 per cent of controls were exposed to
risk factors (Epi-Info 6; CDC).
Estimating the size of the dog and
cat populations in the UK
The number of household occupants (categorical with five categories:
one, two, three, four, or five or more) and the geographical location
of the household (categorical with two categories: London, other
areas of the UK) were both shown to be significantly associated
with the probability of dog or cat ownership in this dataset (data not
shown) and were therefore used in the calculations of the population
estimates.
The most recent UK census was conducted in 2001, with detailed
information relating to the number of occupants per household
(General Register Office for Scotland 2008, National Statistics Online
2008, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency 2009), and the
average household sizes (2.36, 2.37, 2.27 and 2.65 people/household)
were published for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,
respectively (National Statistics 2005). More recent mid-year popula-
tion estimates of the number of households and the average household
size in 2006 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were
available (2.32, 2.30, 2.19 and 2.55, respectively) (Welsh Assembly
Government 2007, National Statistics Online 2008, Northern Ireland
Executive 2008).
As the average UK household sizes were considered to be similar
in 2006 and 2001, the assumption was made that the proportion of
households within London, outside of London, and with one, two,
three, four, or five or more occupants, was unchanged from the 2001
census data (National Statistics Online 2008). The number of UK
households categorised according to the household location and the
number of occupants is summarised in Table 2.
A commercially available statistical software package (SPSS v
14.0) was used to fit a linear regression model to the data collected.
TABLE 1: Description of variables and their univariable P values for UK households randomly selected during 2007 when tested for
association with cat and dog ownership
P value
Variable Description Cat ownership Dog ownership
Geographical location UK postcode areas (London, rest of UK) 0.019 0.002
Sex of respondent Male/female <0.001 0.008
Dogs owned Any dogs owned (yes/no) 0.051
Cats owned Any cats owned (yes/no) 0.051
Number of adults Number of adults (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more) 0.002 <0.001
Children in household Children (aged ≤16 years) (yes/no) <0.001 <0.001
11-15 year olds Children aged 11-15 years (yes/no) 0.002 <0.001
5-10 year olds Children aged 5-10 years (yes/no) <0.001 0.017
<5 year olds Children aged <5 years (yes/no) 0.192 0.640
Number of people in household Number of people (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more) <0.001 <0.001
Own/rent house Owns/rents house 0.022 0.251
Garden Has a garden (yes/no) <0.001 <0.001
Location Urban/semi-urban/rural 0.003 <0.001
Annual household income <£10,000, £10,000-£14,999, £15,000-£19,999, £20,000-£24,999, £25,000-£29,999,
£30,000-£39,999, £40,000-£49,999, ≥£50,000
0.014 0.474
Qualifications Highest level of qualification obtained (none, GCSEs/O levels, A levels, HND/degree, postgraduate/
professional qualification)
<0.001 <0.001
Age of respondent 16-24 years, 25-34 years, 35-44 years, 45-54 years, 55-64 years, >65 years 0.009 <0.001
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For ease of calculating population size CIs, all five categories of house-
hold size were included in the model and no intercept was therefore
included. Details of the models calculated are shown in Tables 3
and 4 and include main effects for household size and location, but
not interactions between the two sets of effects, as they were not
statistically significant. The predicted cat and dog numbers for each
category were then multiplied by the number of households within
each category to derive estimates for the number of dogs and cats
in each category, which were summed to give the overall popula-
tion sizes. The standard errors of these population estimates can be
found by using the variance-covariance matrix of the parameters in
the linear model.
Results
Questionnaires were completed by 2980 households; however, the
number of cats and/or dogs was not supplied by all respondents. A
total of 26 per cent (760/2978) of households owned one or more
cats and 31 per cent (911/2975) of households owned one or more
dogs.
Numbers of cats and dogs per household
The majority (58.3 per cent) of households owning cats had only
one cat (443/760), 29.3 per cent (223/760) owned two cats, 7.2 per
cent (55/760) owned three cats, 2.1 per cent (16/760) owned four
cats, 1.4 per cent (11/760) owned five cats and 1.6 per cent (12/760)
owned between six and 12 cats. The mean and median number
of cats owned was 1.66 and one cat per cat-owning household,
respectively.
The majority (73.3 per cent) of households owning dogs had
only one dog (668/911), 18.9 per cent (172/911) owned two dogs, 4.0
per cent (36/911) owned three dogs, 1.9 per cent (17/911) owned four
dogs, 1.0 per cent (9/911) owned five dogs and 1.0 per cent (9/911)
owned between six and 17 dogs. The mean and median number
of dogs owned was 1.44 and one dog per dog-owning household,
respectively.
A total of 7 per cent of households (210/2975) owned both one or
more cats and one or more dogs.
Characteristics of cat-owning and dog-owning
UK households
Tables 5 and 6 summarise the two final multivariable models
produced for characteristics associated with cat and dog ownership
in UK households. Hosmer-Lemeshow test statistics were used to
assess the overall goodness-of-fit of the final models, and both were
considered to be good model fits (P=0.88 for the model for cats
presented in Table 5 and P=0.73 for the model for dogs presented
in Table 6).
Estimations of the size of the UK cat and
dog populations
The proportion of households within each of the 10 categories formed
by household size and location, calculated from the 2001 census data
and from the study sample, were summarised, together with the mean
number of dogs and cats per household reported in the study sample
for each of the 10 categories (Table 2).
The estimated size (and 95 per cent CIs) of the cat and dog
populations in the UK in 2006 was 10,332,955 (9,395,642 to
11,270,269) cats and 10,522,186 (9,623,618 to 11,420,755) dogs.
As the size of the human population within the UK has reported
to have risen between 2001 and 2006, the populations of cats and
dogs are also estimated to have risen over this time period. The
95 per cent CIs of the estimates of the number of owned cats and
the number of owned dogs in the UK overlap, so it cannot be said
that there are significantly more of either species based on this tel-
ephone sample.
Discussion
Anecdotal reports have suggested that the number of pet cats exceeds
the number of pet dogs in the UK. However, results from the present
study suggest that these reports may be inaccurate, as no evidence
was found to support this hypothesis. The proportion of households
owning cats and dogs in the present study was greater than the
proportion owning cats (19.7 per cent) and dogs (28.8 per cent)
reported in a US study by Patronek and others (1997), suggesting that
cat and dog ownership may be more popular in the UK than the USA,
although any trends of pet ownership during recent years in the USA
are unknown.
The populations of cats and dogs that are not owned were not
considered in this study. Estimating the number of stray/feral cats in
the UK, and elsewhere, is particularly difficult, but knowledge of the
size of this population is important as these cats interact with ‘owned’
cats and may therefore play an important role in the transmission of
infectious diseases and the breeding of domestic cats. It is also recog-
nised that there is some overlap between the non-owned and owned
cat populations, and that some cats will move from one of these popu-
lations to the other. While Patronek and Rowan (1995) developed a
dog population model for the USA, they stated that limited availabil-
ity of data on the non-owned cat population made development of a
cat population model difficult. Similarly, little information exists in
the UK relating to the non-owned cat population, and estimating the
size of this population therefore remains challenging; however, these
non-owned populations remain worthy of future research.
TABLE 2: Number of households in the UK in 2001 and 2006,
categorised according to the number of household occupants and
the location of the household
Household location and
number of occupants
Number of households
in 2001*
Number of households
in 2006
London
1 person 1,046,888 1,104,271
2 people 885,233 933,756
3 people 453,878 478,757
4 people 378,497 399,244
5 or more people 241,134 254,351
Rest of the UK
1 person 6,348,127 6,696,089
2 people 7,418,293 7,824,914
3 people 3,349,927 3,533,547
4 people 2,893,888 3,052,512
5 or more people 1,417,464 1,495,160
Total 24,433,329 25,772,601
* General Register Office for Scotland (2008), National Statistics Online (2008),
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (2009)
Welsh Assembly Government (2007), Northern Ireland Executive (2008)
TABLE 3: Parameters of the linear regression model fitted to
data collected from randomly selected UK households in 2007 to
estimate the size of the owned cat population
Coefficient (se)
London –0.233 (0.095)
Household size
1 person household 0.285 (0.037)
2 person household 0.459 (0.032)
3 person household 0.551 (0.048)
4 person household 0.458 (0.048)
≥5 person household 0.592 (0.067)
TABLE 4: Parameters of the linear regression model fitted to
data collected from randomly selected UK households in 2007 to
estimate the size of the owned dog population
Coefficient (se)
London –0.247 (0.093)
Household size
1 person household 0.254 (0.036)
2 person household 0.413 (0.031)
3 person household 0.537 (0.047)
4 person household 0.626 (0.047)
≥5 person household 0.794 (0.065)
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Characteristics of cat-owning and dog-owning
households
UK households that owned one or more dogs were significantly less
likely than non-dog-owning households to own one or more cats
(OR=0.62), and a similar relationship was found for a decreased
likelihood of dog ownership in cat-owning households (OR=0.69).
These findings may reflect differences in householders’ preferences
for the two species, or concerns about inter-species aggression. In
addition, a significant interaction was also found to exist between dog
ownership and the presence of children aged 11 to 15 years in the
household. Dog-owning households that also included children aged
11 to 15 years were nearly twice as likely to own a cat as households
without either dogs or children aged 11 to 15 years. Therefore, the
presence of 11- to 15-year-old children was associated with an
increased likelihood of the household owning a cat if a dog was
also present in the household, perhaps resulting from children and/
or parents having the desire and time required for the responsibilities
associated with pet ownership.
As the number of people within a household increased, the like-
lihood of dog ownership increased (P<0.001); however, households
with children aged 10 years or younger were nearly half as likely as
households without children in this age group to own one or more
dogs. These results might reflect the amount of time involved in exer-
cising a dog and that this commitment is more easily fulfilled if there
are more people within the household to share dog-walking duties
and less easily fulfilled if young children are present in the household.
Similarly, Westgarth and others (2007) reported that households with
five or more occupants and families without children aged five years
or younger were more likely to own a dog than households with
fewer occupants and families with children aged five years or younger,
respectively. These findings contradict the widely held belief that
many families acquire a dog for the purposes of educating their chil-
dren about pet ownership, at least at such a young age. In contrast, no
evidence was found for a significant association between household
size and cat ownership.
As anticipated, cat-owning households and dog-owning house-
holds were both significantly more likely to have a garden than
households without cats or dogs, reflecting householders’ desire to
provide outside access for both cats and dogs. Analysis of the loca-
tion of the household (categorised as urban, semi-urban or rural)
revealed a significant association between this variable and cat or
dog ownership; however, the precise nature of this association var-
ied according to the two species, as indicated by the way in which
categories were combined to provide the best model fit. Cats were
more likely to be owned by households situated in semi-urban or
rural environments, perhaps reflecting a perception that cats are at
an increased risk of road accidents in urban areas. Whereas dogs
were more likely to be owned by households in a rural environ-
ment, probably reflecting the householders’ awareness of the need
for space to exercise a dog.
The highest level of qualification achieved by a household mem-
ber was significantly associated with cat ownership and dog owner-
ship. Households containing one or more members who had achieved
a university degree were 1.36 times more likely to own a cat than
other households. The reason for this association is not clear, but is
unlikely to be related to household income as this variable was not
shown to be significant when included in the multivariable model
(P=0.75). Similarly, two studies conducted in the USA that investigat-
ed associations between the presence of household allergens, including
cat allergens, and socioeconomic factors concluded that cat allergens
were more likely to be present in households where the mother had
a higher level of education (Leaderer and others 2002) and in areas
with low levels of poverty (Kitch and others 2000) than in house-
holds where the mother had a lower level of education or in areas
with high levels of poverty, respectively. Thus indirect support exists
for the suggestion that socioeconomic factors are associated with cat
ownership.
In contrast, households with a higher level of academic qualifica-
tion (degree level) were significantly less likely to own a dog than
households whose highest level of qualification was below degree
level. The reason for this association is unclear; however, it could be
related to occupations requiring higher qualifications being associated
with longer working hours and therefore less time available for care
of a dog.
Factors related to the questionnaire respondent were included
in the analysis, although it was recognised that these related to the
respondent rather than to the household composition. However,
it was considered that the age of the respondent would frequently
reflect the age of the senior household occupants who are responsi-
ble for decisions involving pet ownership, and the age and sex of the
respondent are also informative in single-person households. Female
respondents were more likely to report that their household owned a
TABLE 5: Multivariable logistic regression model of odds ratios (ORs), 95 per cent confidence intervals (CIs) and P values of characteristics
associated with cat ownership in randomly selected UK households (2007)
Variable
C
ases (%) (n=680) Controls (%)
(
n
=1844)
Adjusted* OR (95% CI) P
Sex of respondent
Male
203 (29.9) 752 (40.8)
1
.
00
Female
477 (70.1) 1092 (59.2)
1
.
63 (1
.
35-1
.
98) <0
.
001
Dog(s) in household
No
489 (71.9) 1251 (67.8)
1
.
00
Yes
191 (28.1) 593 (32.2)
0
.
62 (0
.
50-0
.
78) <0
.
001
Children aged 11-15 years in household
No
560 (82.4) 1599 (86.7)
1
.
00
Yes
120 (17.6) 245 (13.3)
1
.
04 (0
.
75-1
.
44) 0
.
82
Garden
No
16 (2.4) 158 (8.6)
1
.
00
Yes
664 (97.6) 1686 (91.4)
3
.
66 (2
.
15-6
.
21) <0
.
001
Location of household
Urban
183 (26.9) 612 (33.2)
1
.
00
Semi-urban or rural
497 (73.1) 1232 (66.8)
1
.
30 (1
.
06 -1
.
58) 0
.
01
Highest level of qualification obtained by a household member
A level or less
359 (52.8) 1130 (61.3)
1
.
00
Degree or higher
321 (47.2) 714 (38.7)
1
.
36 (1
.
13-1
.
63) 0
.
001
Age of respondent
≤64 years
537 (79.0) 1347 (73.0)
1
.
00
≥65 years
143 (21.0) 497 (27.0)
0
.
78 (0
.
62-0
.
97) 0
.
03
Interaction
Dog(s) in household x children aged 11-15 years in household 1
.
96 (1
.
19 -3
.
24) 0
.
008
* Adjustment is for all variables shown
Reference category
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cat and/or dog than male respondents. Although the respondents’ sex
did not provide full details of the gender composition of the household
(except in single-person households), this result supports the findings
of Westgarth and others (2007), who reported that households includ-
ing an adult female were 2.2 times more likely to own a dog than
other households.
Detailed analysis of the respondents’ age revealed that combin-
ing age categories differently for the models derived for cat owner-
ship (Table 5) and dog ownership (Table 6) resulted in better fits
of the two models than using one categorisation for both models.
Respondents aged 64 years or younger were significantly more like-
ly to report that the household had a cat than those aged 65 years
or more. The sample of respondents within the older age group
included some who lived in nursing homes and were not permit-
ted to own cats, perhaps partly explaining the observed age-related
association.
Similarly, dog ownership was more common among young-
er respondents, although in comparison with the cat-ownership
model the cut-off was at the lower age of 55 years. Similarly,
although not significant in the multivariable model, Westgarth
and others (2007) reported, from a univariable analysis, that house-
holds containing people aged 60 years or older were significantly
less likely than other households to own a dog. This association
may be related to the reduction in physical fitness that tends to
accompany ageing, perhaps explaining the reluctance of people
aged 55 years or older to commit themselves to the responsibilities
of exercising a dog.
Estimated size of the owned cat and
dog populations in the UK
Although details of the methodology used by the PFMA to calculate
the size of the UK domestic cat and dog population were not
reported, the estimates from the present study (and 95 per cent CIs)
for the size of the owned cat (10,332,955, 95 per cent CI 9,395,642
to 11,270,269) and dog (10,522,186, 95 per cent CI 9,623,618 to
11,420,755) populations in the UK in 2006 suggest that the PFMA
values for the UK of 7.2 million cats and 7.3 million dogs in 2007
may have been underestimated (PFMA 2008). Although CIs were
calculated in the present study, additional uncertainty exists in these
estimates, as the population size estimates were calculated using
human population data from 2006. A weakness of the present
study is that the population estimates may have been subject to
bias if an association existed between households excluded from
the present sample (that is, non-responders and those registered as
‘ex-directory’ or with the TPS) and the probability of cat or dog
ownership. The proportion of households located in London in the
study sample was lower than the proportion reported in the 2001
census (Table 7), perhaps reflecting a higher proportion of London
households that are ex-directory or TPS-registered than households
outside the London region. Although further investigation of any
bias was not practical, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent
of the population is registered as ‘ex- directory’ (www.192.com),
leading to a potential for selection bias. Further work investigating
any association between ‘ex-directory’ status and the likelihood
of owning a cat and/or dog would provide useful information to
help refine future population estimates. Despite some potential for
selection bias, given the lack of recent reliable UK pet population
estimates and the practical problems associated with obtaining a
truly random UK sample, the estimates derived in the present study
should be useful baseline figures for those involved in forecasting
data for cat- and dog-related products, such as food and medicine
manufacturers. The present study has provided reliable baseline
estimates of the cat and dog populations in the UK using a method
that is convenient and easily repeated. It is recommended that
the cross-sectional study is repeated in 2011 (the year of the next
scheduled UK census), to update the population estimates based on
updated census information and to enable pet ownership trends to
be monitored.
The present study showed many common factors relating to cat
and dog ownership in the UK (for example, presence of a garden and
a rural location), but has also identified some notable differences. In
particular, if the highest level of qualification achieved by a household
member was at degree level or higher, then the household was signifi-
cantly more likely to own a cat and significantly less likely to own a
TABLE 6: Multivariable logistic regression model of odds ratios (ORs), 95 per cent confidence intervals (CIs) and P values of characteristics
associated with dog ownership in randomly selected UK households (2007)
Variable
C
ases (%) (n=784) Controls (%)
(
n
=1738)
Adjusted* OR (95% CI) P
Gender of respondent
Male
262 (33.4) 693 (39.9)
1
.
00
Female
522 (66.6) 1045 (60.1)
1
.
30 (1
.
08 -1
.
57) 0
.
005
Cat(s) in household
No
593 (75.6) 1249 (71.9)
1
.
00
Yes
191 (24.4) 489 (28.1)
0
.
69 (0
.
56-0
.
84) <0
.
001
Children aged ≤10 years in household
No
637 (79.3) 1459 (83.9)
1
.
00
Yes
147 (20.7) 279 (16.1)
0
.
58 (0
.
44-0
.
76) <0
.
001
Number of people in household
1
129 (16.5) 515 (29.6)
1
.
00
2
262 (33.4) 637 (36.7)
1
.
56 (1
.
22 -2
.
00)
3
133 (17.0) 255 (14.7)
2
.
11 (1
.
55-2
.
89)
4
158 (20.2) 234 (13.5)
2
.
86 (2
.
07-3
.
97)
≥5
102 (13.0) 97 (5.6)
4
.
64 (3
.
13-6
.
87) <0
.
001
Garden
No
26 (3.3) 148 (8.5)
1
.
00
Yes
758 (96.7) 1590 (91.5)
2
.
43 (1
.
56 -3
.
78) <0
.
001
Location of household
Urban or semi-urban
519 (26.0) 1312 (75.5)
1
.
00
Rural
265 (74.0) 426 (24.5)
1
.
73 (1
.
43-2
.
10) <0
.
001
Highest level of qualification obtained by a household member
A level or less
483 (61.6) 1005 (57.8)
1
.
00
Degree or higher
301 (38.4) 733 (42.2)
0
.
70 (0
.
58-0
.
84) <0
.
001
Age of respondent
≤54 years
499 (63.6) 897 (51.6)
1
.
00
≥55 years
285 (36.4) 841 (48.4)
0
.
67 (0
.
54-0.83) <0
.
001
* Adjustment is for all variables shown
Reference category
Online P&A Feb 6.indd 167 3/2/10 17:01:42
Veterinary Record | February 6, 2010
PapersPapers
PapersPapers
dog than households containing members with lower levels of quali-
fication. Although 7 per cent of households owned both one or more
cats and one or more dogs, ownership of one of these species was asso-
ciated with a decreased likelihood of also owning the other species of
pet. The sizes of the owned cat and dog populations in the UK were
estimated as approximately 10.3 million cats and 10.5 million dogs,
suggesting that the size of the UK owned cat and dog populations is
larger than previously reported by industry figures.
Acknowledgements
The authors thank all the questionnaire respondents who provided
data for the study. Laura Cockerell, Hannah Gritti, Lauren Guthrie,
Anna Moore, Katy Rossiter and Jennifer Sinclair are thanked for data
collection and entry. Cats Protection funds Jane Murray’s post.
References
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TABLE 7: Proportion of households in the study sample, and in
the 2001 UK census, categorised according to the number of
household occupants
Household
location and
number of
occupants
Proportion of households
Mean number of
2001
census data
Study sample
Dogs/household
(study sample)
Cats/household
(study sample)
London
1 person 0.043 0.009 0.174 0.087
2 person 0.036 0.013 0.290 0.323
3 person 0.019 0.008 0.200 0.200
4 person 0.015 0.006 0.214 0.000
≥5 person 0.010 0.005 0.250 0.500
Rest of UK
1 person 0.260 0.253 0.248 0.284
2 person 0.304 0.339 0.409 0.449
3 person 0.137 0.147 0.542 0.558
4 person 0.119 0.147 0.634 0.474
≥5 person 0.058 0.074 0.813 0.582
Online P&A Feb 6.indd 168 3/2/10 17:01:43
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Census data: how you can use it to reach more patients
  • NASSAR
NASSAR, R. & MOSIER, J. E. (1986) Census data: how you can use it to reach more patients. Veterinary Medicine 81, 419-425