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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Britons 'prefer cats to dogs'
tabby cat
Cats now outnumber dogs in the UK
Man's best friend is now his cat, research has suggested - with Britons now owning more cats as pets than dogs.

About 7.5m cats are kept in households throughout the UK, compared with 6.1m dogs, according to the charity Cats Protection League.

This compares with 4.9m feline households in 1979.

In a survey by the charity, nearly 40% of people named cats as their favourite pet - with just 7% preferring dogs.

The charity said that as lifestyles change, becoming increasingly urban and busy, so do people's ideas of a perfect pet.

Woman walking a dog in Paris
As lifestyles change, so does people's choice of pets
The research said 57% of people liked cats because they were affectionate, 49% liked them for their independence and 46% preferred them because they were clean.

Nearly a quarter of people kept a cat because they were low maintenance, and 27% said they liked not having to exercise them.

Cats were most popular with the 35-44 age group - with nearly a third of all people in this group owning one, while dogs were preferred by older people.

Preferred partners

The survey also threw up several strange statistics.

Nearly two-thirds of cat owners said curling up with their pet was the best way to beat stress - preferring that to speaking to a friend or going for a drink.

Almost half of both men and women said they would rather wake up with their cat than their partner.

And 98% of women said they would rather date someone who liked cats, than someone who did not.

The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"One in three of us are choosing cats as companions"
See also:

30 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Bill of Rights for pets 'is nonsense'
20 Feb 01 | UK
In defence of cats
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