Our latest national poll on animals and pets finds that six in ten voters (61%) say they own a pet. Almost half (46%) say they spend between 1-5 hours per week taking care of their pets, while 25% spend between 6-10 hours, 7% 11-20 hours, 6% more than 20 hours and 16% less than one hour. One in five say they prefer to spend time with their pets over most human beings. Rural Americans are more likely to prefer the company of animals to humans, with a 33% saying they would rather spend time with their pet than other humans, compared to just 12% of suburban and 19% of urban respondents. Similarly, 30% of respondents who identify as introverts prefer the companionship of a furry friend, compared to 14% of extroverts.
Almost a third (31%) say their pets sleep in the bed with them. About a quarter of pet owners (24%) say that "everyone should love their pet", while 69% do not think that. Women are slightly more likely to own a pet (64%) than men (58%). Women who own pets are also put more time into caring for them, with 16% of women spending more than 10 hours caring for their pets compared to just 9% for men.
When asked whether they prefer cats or dogs, dogs win big with 52% while just 21% choose cats. 44% of voters say they own dogs, and 21% of dog owners say their dogs bark and jump on people every time they enter the house (79% say their dogs don't do that.). 31% of voters own cats, and fully 77% of those cat owners say their cats are friendly to visitors compared to 23% who aren't friendly.
Dogs seem to engender more warm feelings than cats. 81% of voters say they either "like" or "love" dogs. Just 3% are afraid of dogs, 2% are allergic, 10% are indifferent, and 4% think "they should all live in the woods." Cats get more mixed reviews – a total 58% voters either "like" or "love" them, 11% are allergic to them, 5% are afraid of them, 19% are indifferent and 8% say "they should all live in the woods." The "crazy cat person" stereotype doesn't seem to be widely held, though, as just 23% of voters agree with the statement "Cat owners are weirder than dog owners." And just 11% of voters agree that cats make better pets than dogs because "they make you work for their affection and don't sell out like dogs do."
As a whole, Americans are more terrified of snakes than any other animal, with 21% of respondents claiming they were the scariest. Alligators were a close second at 19%, with sharks and bears following with 18% and 14% respectively. Though the shark is deemed scarier than the bear, the bear is the clear favorite to win in a fight between the two, with 56% of respondents picking the bear over the shark. Exposure to the ocean may influence the vote, as westerners were the only geographical group to pick the shark, by a 57/43 margin.
When picking what they'd most like to have as an exotic pet, 26% chose a tiger, 20% a giraffe, 18% a dinosaur, 16% an elephant, 14% a polar bear and 6% an alligator. Vegans and vegetarians are more unified on which animal they would like to own, with 49% saying a dinosaur was their preferred exotic pet, compared to just 16% of meat eaters.
– When asked which would make a better President based on their personalities, 37% of voters choose a dog, 19% a cat and 45% aren't sure.
– 10% of voters say they'd like a hippopotamus for Christmas, 90% said no thank you.
– It's a close contest as to who voters think would win a fight between a shark and a bear. 56% chose the bear, and 44% the shark.
– The Humane Society is viewed favorably by voters by a 70/14 margin, but PETA gets a plurality unfavorable rating of 36/39. Somewhat suprisingly, vegans and vegetarians have much lower support for these groups, with 22% supporting PETA and 45% supporting the Humane Society.
– Bambi wins out as "favorite movie animal" with 23%. 19% pick Lassie, 16% Garfield, 10% Nemo, 8% Free Willy, 7% Jaws and 17% say something else.
– 18% of voters say they think the Loch Ness Monster is real, while 64% say they don't believe it is and 18% aren't sure.
Full results here.