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Pets provide comfort and company for owners

New research released today finds that a large number of pet owners are going out of their way to do things for their animals as they turn to them for comfort and company amid the stresses and strains of modern life.

Almost half of those surveyed (47 percent) allow their pets to sleep in their bed, a quarter (26 percent) have them accompany them to the toilet and some even let their pets join them when they have a shower or bath.

The research, commissioned by Lily’s Kitchen to mark the launch of their ‘It’s Not Loopy, It’s Love’ campaign, highlights the lengths UK pet owners will go to to demonstrate love for their animal companions that those who don’t have pets would surely find a little odd.

The results of the research should give pet parents the confidence and freedom to celebrate the things they do for their pets.

Almost a third (31 percent) kiss their pets goodbye before leaving for work, 39 percent let them lick their face and 16 percent even kiss them on the lips.

According to the survey, the nation’s pets are also ruling the roost at mealtimes. 36 percent cook for our pets, more than one in 10 (12 percent) get up in the early hours of the morning to feed them and some even have their own designated seat at the dinner table.

Other things we do for our pets include reading to them, letting them choose what to watch on TV, throwing them birthday parties, taking them to the pub and creating social media profiles for them.

Over a quarter (28 percent) have even turned down going out so they could stay at home and have a night in with their pet.

The research suggests that pet owners are aware that their relationships with their animals is a bit odd. Over a third (34 percent) admit to thinking that their human behaviour with their pet is a bit weird and 17 percent have been told that they are too close to their pets.

Yet 66 per cent believe this behaviour is totally normal – with nine in 10 owners saying they ‘don’t care’ what people think of their relationships with their animals and 85 per cent believe only other pet owners can really understand the bond between a person and a pet.

Commenting on the research, Dr Deborah Wells, an animal psychologist based at Queen’s University of Belfast said: “This research highlights the intensity of owners’ attachments to their dogs and cats and the lengths some people go to to ensure their pets’ needs are not only catered for, but, in many cases, exceeded.

“The acceptance by wider society that our pets are an integral part of the family unit has made it easier to indulge in our dogs and cats, enabling us to do things with our pets such as taking them out to dinner that several years ago simply wouldn’t have been possible.

“As a social species, we are programmed to seek out relationships with others, human or otherwise.   The infantile features common to dogs and cats, such as their big eyes and clumsy movements, can trigger care-giving behaviour.

“This may explain some of the findings of the research, notably why we treat dogs and cats in much the same way as our children; we have simply evolved to love and care for soft, helpless things, human or otherwise.”

Henrietta Morrison, CEO and founder of Lily’s Kitchen said: “We are renowned for being a nation of pet lovers and this research reinforces just how much our pets are family members and such an integral part of our lives.

“It lifts the lid on what non pet owners might perceive to be crazy or loopy behaviour, which makes us feel a bit uncomfortable about confessing for fear of ridicule, but what pet parents will relate to and know stems from love.”

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