Just over half of dog and cat owners describe their pets as their ‘best friend’ according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance.
The corresponding figure for dog owners is 59 percent and for those who own cats it’s 41 percent.
Overall, 49 percent of dog and cat owners say they prefer animals to people.
When asked why, 60 percent said it’s because they are like a faithful friend; 58 percent said they are more reliable than people and don’t let you down, and 54 percent said they just make them feel more cheerful.
Psychologist Gladeana McMahon says this is evidence of the ‘humanisation’ of pets – people seeing themselves in them. She says evidence of this can be seen in the range of human-like goods and services for pets, including counselling, massage, motion-sickness pills for dogs and vitamin-enriched food.
The research also reveals that 17 percent of the nation’s cats and dogs have their own social media profiles.
Around one in eight (12 percent) are on Facebook, 5 percent are on Instagram, 5 percent are on Twitter and 3 per cent on Snapchat.
Tom Thomson, head of Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, said: “Our pets play an important role in our lives. Not only are they valued members of our families, in many cases they are our best friends.
“However, if they become ill, the cost of veterinary treatment can run into thousands of pounds, but despite this the vast majority of our cats and dogs don’t have pet insurance.”
Psychologist Gladeana McMahon said: “As the problem of loneliness increases in society through a variety of factors such as smaller families, single-person households, living away from family and ageing populations, some people are turning to their pets to provide social comfort and become their ‘best friends’. Our love for our pets is so strong that we are increasingly ‘humanising’ them through the names we give them, and by creating their own profiles on social media.”