LONDON — According to UK Pet Food’s 2024 Pet Population Report, roughly 17.2 million households across the United Kingdom own non-aquatic pets, and dogs and cats are leading the pack. Data showed there are 13.5 million dogs and 12.5 million cats currently living in British homes, representing 36% and 29% of UK households, respectively.

More than one-third (38%) of the country’s population added a new pet to their homes over the last four years, representing a total of 10.9 million households. This includes 2.6 million households that welcomed new kittens to their families, and 3.7 million households that added a new puppy.

Another key insight from the report revealed that the adult cat adoption has grown among men in the United Kingdom. In the last four years, 27% of men across 1.5 million households have added an adult cat to their families, compared to 18% of women across 1 million households. This represents a gender switch in pet adoption demographics, according to UK Pet Food.

“For the first time since the pandemic puppy and kitten boom, UK Pet Food data notes an appreciation for mature pets across all demographics, with a total of around 2.5 million households acquiring adult cats, and adult dogs have been welcomed into 2.1 million households,” UK Pet Food stated.

The report also detailed the power of the human-animal bond, with 29% of UK pet owners agreeing their pets benefit their family’s mental health. For pet owners ages 45 and up, approximately 50% said they would be lonely without their furry companion.

“This year’s findings prove again the huge popularity of pets in the UK,” said Michael Bellingham, chief executive officer at UK Pet Food. “As the owner of an older cat, I was particularly interested to see that more men are adopting older cats. There could be all sorts of reasons for the increasing popularity of our furry and aquatic companions, but this year’s research highlights the profound therapeutic impact of pets. Pets play a significant role in our homes; they help combat loneliness and they can have a positive effect on our mental health. We were pleasantly surprised to see that one fifth of those questioned are calling for pets to be available on prescription. We couldn’t agree more.”

Shortly following the release of its 2024 Pet Population Report, UK Pet Food announced the appointment of Rupert Phillips to chairman of the association. Phillips currently serves as managing director of pet for the United Kingdom and Ireland for Spectrum Brands. He will serve as chairman of UK Pet Food for the next two years, where he will represent the best interests of the association and UK pet owners, particularly in the areas of safety and standards.

“In this busy environment, my focus alongside the team will be on ensuring we continue to be a strong voice for the industry on matters such as facilitating trade and advocating for regulatory alignment across the EU,” Phillips said.

Bellingham added, “Under the headline of Safety & Standards, we will be communicating proactively about the role of prepared pet food in delivering safe and sustainable nutrition for our pets whilst promoting what it means to be a member of UK Pet Food and the best practice our members sign up to.”

Read more global pet food and treat news from outside North America. 

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