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Santa must love dogs

53% of Americans plan holiday gifts for pets, but more dogs than cats will get presents.

By Teresa Mears Dec 8, 2010 6:32PM

More pet owners plan to buy gifts for dogs this year than for cats, another sign of the blatant discrimination felines face daily.


Oops. Get that cat off my computer keyboard! Perhaps the cats are getting fewer gifts because they are ingrates and often ignore the gifts they do receive.  


An poll found that 56% of dog owners plan to buy their pooches gifts this holiday. In contrast, only 48% of cat owners plan to buy something for their feline friends.


The number of American animal owners planning to buy holiday gifts for their pets (53%) is about the same as last year, after rising significantly, from 43% to 52%, from 2008 to 2009.


"Despite the recession, the pet industry has grown 5% in the past couple of years and is forecast to grow another 5," Tierra Bondali, a spokeswoman for the American Pet Products Association, told Wendy Toth at "If you're depressed or having a hard year, what can make you feel happier than that wagging tail?"


If you're stuck for gift ideas, Petside has a holiday gift guide for pets. We like the Umbra fish hotel. The poll apparently did not measure what percentage of fish would receive gifts.


Spending on pets is big business. The American Pet Products Association estimates that Americans will spend $47.7 billion on their pets this year, up from $28.5 billion in 2001.


If your pets already have everything, I'm sure they would appreciate a donation to a spay-and-neuter charity.


Other findings from the poll:

  • Women (56%) are more likely than men (49%) to buy presents for their pets.
  • In families that have experienced unemployment in the last year, 56% plan to buy their animals a gift.
  • Renters (66%) are more likely to buy gifts for their pets than are homeowners (49%).
  • People who don't attend religious services (60%) are more likely to buy gifts for their pets than people who do (fewer than half).

The recession has been hard for many pet owners, and some of the most heart-rending stories have been about people who were unable to keep their pets. As I've learned in the nearly eight years since I first took in a "free" kitten, pets are expensive.


My cats would probably like the Skyline scratching post for Chistmas, but the $40 price tag is not in our holiday budget. (Watch for the "wave" scratchers to go on sale for $19.99; these were very popular at our house.) Last year's surprise success was a $2 stuffed animal with a long tail on a stick.


Cats are naturally frugal. It's hard to find anything they like more than the boxes, ribbons and paper used to wrap everyone else's gifts.


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