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The 'cat lady' myth: Who spends the most on their pets?

We love our pets. And what says love like money?

By Janet Paskin Feb 11, 2010 10:19AM

Have you ever heard a dog cough? It's a dry, hacking, wheezing thing, like a 90-year-old man with a hairball. It. Is. Horrible. Which may be why, when our dog, Lucy, caught a cold this winter, we bought her antibiotics, yes, and also a $50 bottle of doggie echinacea.

While that's embarrassing and we'll never do it again (we swear!), we're not alone in indulging our furriest family member. Americans spend $43.2 billion a year on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, enough to build an oil-and-gas pipeline, close the budget deficit in California twice over, or bail out a major multinational bank.


But a closer look at who's spending how much might surprise you.

First things first: The crazy single lady with a million cats is a stereotype. According to, single women without kids spend about $46 a month on their pets -- same as the national average. (In the graphic below, single women are the solid colors and everyone else is stripes.)


It's true that single men spend less: $33 on average, with top-spending bachelors clocking in 29% below the country's highest spenders overall. Conclusion: Either single men are less inclined to splurge on Mr. Bowser, or they're more likely to own fish.


Pets can get expensive, though. Forget the monthly food bill or the trip to the vet for $3,000 in emergency eye surgery. It's the little things! A pet stroller will set you back $145, a dog water fountain costs $67, and then there's $50 for the doggie dress in leopard print. (The question of a dog in a dress aside, is it wrong for that dress to be leopard print? Or if not wrong, then just weird?) Who's buying this stuff? Americans making more than $125,000 a year spend twice what the average household does on pets; top spenders shell out about $200 a month to keep their pets comfortable. Of course, it needn't be that much -- some people keep Fido comfy on $20 a month.

On the other hand, most pet owners will say the uncomplicated, unconditional love of an animal is worth the expense. The others, apparently, own fish.

How much are you spending on your pet? Is it worth it? (And if you want to know if you're spending more or less than other people in your city, you can do that at Woof!)

More from Bundle:

Editor's note: Janet Paskin is Bundle's managing editor. She will report back regularly to MSN Money about spending trends and how America spends and saves. She can be reached at

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