A study by David Blouin, assistant professor of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University South Bend, found that people who think of animals as children tend to have a city background. However, no matter where someone lives, having children often changes the owners’ thoughts on their pets – with Blouin postulating that owners who think of their animals as children often change their mind when they have human children.
"To think of pets as just another animal is not uncommon in rural areas, which makes sense given the utilitarian relationships people in rural areas are more likely to have with a range of different animals – from farm to wild animals. If you have kids, you have less time to spend with your pets. That’s part of it, but not the whole story. People who think of their pets as their children often re-evaluate this thought when they have human children of their own," said Blouin.
The study, carried out in Indiana and presented at the American Sociological Association 2010 Annual Meeting, found that 93% of dog owners and 77% of cat owners took their pets to the veterinarian at least once a year. The study also found that 81% of dog owners and 67.5% of cat owners spent two or more hours daily with their pets, with only 2% of both dog and cat owners spending time with their pets less than once a day.
During interviews, the main concern of pet owners was their pets’ health, and the often the associated costs that accompanied illness. Skin allergies, Crohn’s disease and diabetes contributed to the diseases most likely to cause stress as a result of cost.