In an age where swiping right can be less thrilling than a tail wag or a purr, it's high time we unpack the truth about pet parents' priorities. At Figo, we wanted to shed light on some eye-opening findings that might have you reevaluating your relationship status—not with your partner, but with their four-legged companion.
To set the stage for our deep dive into the hearts and homes of pet parents, Figo surveyed a diverse cross-section of pet parents from various generations, cultures, and genders. Our mission? To uncover the 411 on the dynamics of pet parenthood in today's world.
With a keen eye on the delicate balance between pet love and human love, we posed questions that compared and contrasted pet parents' feelings for their companions against those for dates or potential partners. The findings, as revealing as they are fascinating, offer a genuine glimpse into the modern-day pet parent psyche.
First dates vs furry mates
When surveyed, over half of pet parents confessed that a cozy evening at home with their pet trumps the butterflies of a first date. Yes, that's right. The allure of soft fur and unconditional love often outshines the prospect of awkward small talk over dinner - who'd have guessed! But before you cancel your Tinder subscription, there's more.
A staggering one-third of pet parents admitted they would call it quits with someone who didn't vibe with their pet. This number jumps to a whopping 42% among women. It seems that for nearly 2 in 5 female pet parents, the phrase "love me, love my dog" is more than a cute saying—it's a deal-breaker.
It's easy to understand why many pet parents would say sayonara to someone who gives their pet the stink eye. As our connections with our dogs and cats deepen, transforming them into bona fide family members, it's only natural to seek a partner who gets and supports this bond. After all, pet lovers or those who share their lives with pets often come across as more responsible, trustworthy, and empathetic. And let's be honest, that's pretty attractive.
Moving into the bedroom, our survey revealed that nearly 4 in 5 pet parents believe sharing their bed with their pet is perfectly fine. Cat owners, in particular, are 5% more likely to snuggle up with their whiskered companions. Considering cats' notorious disregard for human-imposed rules, it's natural that only a small fraction of cat parents, 14%, have never shared a snooze with their feline.
Read more: Can Your Pet Affect Your Sex Life
Popcorn and purrs
For the movie-going crowd, 1 in 4 Millennials surveyed said they would jump at the chance to bring their pets along. They’ve consoled you through bad first dates and breakups, it only makes sense that dogs and cats would make the perfect plus one!
When it comes to TV time, 42% of women prefer to settle down with their pets for a TV and cuddle sesh, compared to only 32% of men. That means that overall, women would be more apt to choose their pet above their significant other for a cozy night in.
The phenomenon doesn't end at the couch. Both female and male pet parents report feeling separation anxiety from their curious copilots, at 42% and 33% respectively. This shared anxiety might just be the secret ingredient to a pet's unwavering ability to monopolize their human's affection.
By now, you've likely noticed that our survey reveals that a significant number of women prioritize their pets, as highlighted across various responses. This leads us to an intriguing question: What drives this gender disparity? To understand better, let's dive deeper into the reasons behind this trend.
Women and dogs throughout history
The special bond between women and dogs goes way beyond the usual "Who's a good boy?" and ventures deep into cultural practices that show just how much these relationships benefit both parties.
As journalist Mary Jo DiLonardo points out, in societies where women and dogs share a close connection, dogs hit the jackpot—receiving VIP treatment that included affection, food, shelter, and overall humanization. These groups were onto something, treating dogs not just as pets, but as beings with feelings and deeper value.
Diving into the annals of history and anthropology, we find some eye-opening examples of how women’s rapport with dogs differed from men's. Take the Munduruku people of the Amazon and the Tiwi of Australia, for instance, where women had a special relationship with canines. Ethnographic tales tell of women who treated dogs as bona fide family members, fed them alongside their children, and even gave them a spot in the family bed.
Over in the Amazonian Tukano lands, dogs were more than just companions —they were co-workers, who assisted women in valuable tasks like gardening, hunting, and gathering.
Even in communities that were less likely to revere dogs and grant them "personhood", women have been reported to keep dogs close, sleeping near them and feeding them scraps.
These complex historical relationships underscore the diverse cultural attitudes towards dogs and the nuanced roles women played in sustaining these bonds across different societal contexts.
Moreover, the realm of academic research into the human-animal bond has a significant female presence. Female researchers make up 80% of members of the International Society for Anthrozoology. According to Psychology Today, "of the 136 authors of papers published in the six issues of the journal Anthrozoös in 2019, 79% were women."
This not only underscores the strong interest women have in understanding our soulful sidekicks but also contributes to a broader understanding of the emotional and psychological benefits of pet parenthood.
Today, women are redefining the concept of motherhood, choosing pets as partners in crime over traditional societal expectations. Gone are the days when motherhood exclusively meant having kids and staying at home. Now, it's all about the freedom to love and nurture on our terms, whether that's balancing a bustling career, adventuring across the globe, or enjoying the local scene—all with a dog or cat tow. And hey, many have human children, too!
This generation is all about embracing a more open and flexible view of what family looks like, often living out an ideal family dynamic with their partners and four-legged companions.
Ultimately, the deep bond between women and their pets is a multifaceted relationship influenced by biological responses, psychological needs, and evolving societal trends. As pets occupy an increasingly significant role in the lives of many women, they emerge not just as companions, but as integral members of the family unit, providing love, comfort, and emotional fulfillment.
It's me or the dog
So, what have we learned from diving into the intriguing dynamics between pets and their parents? For starters, pets are not just animals; they're a deep and meaningful part of our everyday lives. If you're finding yourself on the losing end of a love triangle with a pet, remember: the way to a pet parent's heart is often through their other, furrier half.
Next time you plan a romantic gesture for your significant other, you might want to consider including their pet. Bonding together over mutual respect and adoration for your dog or cat can be a beautiful and relationship-enhancing experience. After all, it's not worth competing for the limelight. As our survey suggests, your girlfriend really might love her dog just a little bit more.
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.