Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pampered Pets: Have Americans Gone Too Far?

As the demographics of America have changed, so too has the nature of pet ownership. It used to be that most pets were bought by families. Now, the majority of pet owners, 61 percent, are childless—singles, unmarried couples waiting to have kids, gay couples, empty-nesters. Invariably, these owners tend to treat their pets like surrogate babies, and they spoil them accordingly. To help these childless pet-parents spend their disposable income, the pet products industry has mushroomed in the past decade. This year we’ll shell out more than $40 billion to keep our furry friends fed, adorned, amused and healthy—the latter a huge growth category, with more and more owners paying top dollar for elaborate medical treatments to forestall that inevitable last visit to the vet. By the end of the decade, we’ll be spending $50 billion on pet products, according to the APPMA. Walk the aisles of Petco or PetSmart, past the Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses for your dog and the $140 Catnip Chaise Lounge for your cat, and you’ll discover just how well-trained we Americans have become.

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