The stereotype of the typical cat lover is a single female who has never married. But according to a new survey conducted by cat behaviour expert, Vicky Halls, this clearly isnâ€™t the case.
Yes, the majority were women (96%), fairly evening spread between the ages of 18-50 but the majority (58%) were married or cohabiting with no children (88%) and in full time work (72%).
According to Vicky, â€œI have actually known for some years that the stereotype was wrong since the majority of my clients are married or living with a partner. The majority donâ€™t have children and are in full-time work. Is this significant? I think it is. These are not women biding time until they have a real baby without the fur. Whether we make the decision to pursue careers instead of families or remain childless for another reason we still need to perform the role of mother for which we were designed. A cat is fulfilling that need.
And the overall result is rather surprising as it shows that the majority of owners DONâ€™T REGARD THEIR CAT AS A PET AT ALL! Cats have upgraded their status from pet to family member.
Only 18% described their cat as a family pet. Whereas a staggering 64% thought of their cat as a family member, 25% like a child and 28% as a companion (some owners specified more than one type of relationship, for example a child and a family member, but interestingly not as a family member and a pet.)
This implies that the catâ€™s perceived wishes are considered when making decisions, including those about holidays and moving house. Vicky comments, â€œI know of many owners who donâ€™t go away because the cat would be lonely, donâ€™t sit on the sofa because the catâ€™s comfortable, get up in the middle of the night because the catâ€™s bored and generally put themselves way down the list of priorities. Thatâ€™s some family member!â€
Cat owners are an anxious lot…
Parenthood prepares us beautifully for worrying, but it seems owning a cat also causes a great deal of anxiety:
79% worried that their cat would come to harm when outside
82%% worried about traffic
76% worried that they may go missing
67% worried that they may get injured in a fight
and 61% liked to know where their cat is at any given time.
Love me, love my cat:
75% let their cat stay in their bedroom at night
58% let their cat sleep on the bed
and a staggering 70% of partners didnâ€™t mind!
Vicky Halls is the UKâ€™s leading cat behaviour specialist. Author of Cat Confidential and Cat Detective, she has devoted her life to studying the human/feline relationship. On vetsâ€™ referral, she travels the length and breadth of the country visiting owners who are having problems with their cats.
In her new book, CAT COUNSELLOR, she turns the tables and asks how would cats really like us to behave towards them? Whatâ€™s in the relationship for them? Are we giving them what they want? Is just loving them enough? Can we love them too much?
Cat Counsellor: How Your Cat Really Relates To You is published by Bantam Books on October 11 at Â£6.99
*the survey was conducted by Vicky Halls on her website vickyhalls.net and based on 400 completed questionnaires.