Pet roles

The place of a dog or cat in a household is dependent on the place where their owners are from. According to David Blouin, a researcher at Indiana University South Bend (USA), this factor, together with the presence of children in the household, largely determines a pet’s status.
Blouin conducted extensive research on the status of animals in the household. In rural areas (or with people who grew up in a rural area) the dog or cat is, above all, an animal. These people have experienced farm animals and wild animals since childhood. Dogs and cats in urban areas, in contrast, are more often seen as children.

The status of the house pet, seen either as an animal or a child, determines to a great extent how much time and money (food, toys, veterinarian) are spent on the animal.

The addition of children to a household can influence an animal’s status. Their arrival means adults have less time to spend on the animals. A pet previously seen as a child can lose this status and ‘turn back into’ an animal.

Of the pet owners in Indiana involved in the study, 93% of the dog owners and 77% of the cat owners brought their animal to the veterinarian at least once a year. Of the dog owners, 81% spent at least two hours a day on their pet; this was true for 67.5% of cat owners. Two per cent of the owners of either dogs or cats did not devote time to their pets daily.