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Pets and Dating: Swipe Right!

New survey reveals just how far Aussies go when it comes to pets and online profiles

Just saying whether you prefer dogs or cats may no longer be enough to gauge romantic compatibility, with the PETstock 2022 Pet Parent Report giving new insights into just how far many Australian pets are allowed into their owner’s lifestyle, kitchen, bedroom and even their bank accounts!

And while the report may implicitly suggest that match makers need a longer list of pet-related screening questions, 56 per cent of cat owners surveyed said they would explicitly choose someone else who had a dog or a cat on a dating app. 

The findings also reveal that 65 per cent of pet owners let their pet sleep on or in the bed with them, and that habit may be a deal breaker for some people.
“We typically perceive people who have positive attitudes towards animals as being more caring and empathetic and these are traits we tend to look for in a partner, explains Animal Behaviourist Dr Kate Mornement.

“Pet parents may also prefer to date a potential partner who also loves animals because they perceive them as a better match in terms of values and lifestyle,” she added.

“Recent research has shown that dogs can sense our emotions by reading our facial expressions. This might explain why some pet parents swear by their pet's ability to tell whether people they meet are nice (or not) and could make a potential match for their owner.”

Screening questions may need to vary depending on where people live, with those surveyed in Brisbane the most likely to prefer pets over children (57 per cent) and Sydneysiders were the least likely to have this attitude (39 per cent), but only if they did not already have kids (with the national figure being 51 per cent).

Brisbane also led the nation with people who would rather sleep next to their pet than their partner (42 per cent), whereas only 35 per cent of pet owners in Perth felt this way.

The way pets are perceived can be a critical difference between the sexes too, with more men (15 per cent) believing that their dog had “done something heroic like saved another animal or someone’s life” compared to 8 per cent for women, and women feeling safer in the house alone, when they had a pet with them (84 per cent compared to 59 per cent of men).

Women are slightly more likely than men to take their cat out for a walk on a leash (with 1 in 5) owners stating they do.

Whereas, 15 per cent of women were embarrassed by their dog’s behaviour at a dog park or similar, and only 9 per cent of men felt the same, and in general men were more confident to let their dogs off the leash in public places.

Female pet owners were far more likely to support animal charities and prefer pet charities over human charities and are more likely to include their pet in their will and also outspent men on their pets.

Similarly, more cat owners donate to animal charities and prefer pet charities over human charities.

And it seems it is true that cats are more popular with women, and in metropolitan areas, and that they are perceived to rule the house.

More than half of cat owners have more than one cat - although people over 45 are more likely to only have one feline in the house.

Almost half (47 per cent) of dog owners say they cook for their dog (almost double the 26 per cent of cat owners who do this) and are more likely than cat owners to give supplements, feed scraps and feed their pet at the same time as they eat, the 2022 PETstock Pet Parent Report found.

“Research shows that, in general, there is considerable overlap when it comes to the attitudes of men and women towards animals, however people can have different preferences when it comes to living with pets. For example, some pet parents don’t mind their pets sleeping on the bed or couch, whereas others might prefer their pets to sleep in their own bed,” Kate explains.

“Understanding these preferences in a potential partner can help gauge romantic compatibility, avoid conflict and ensure a successful relationship,” concludes Kate.

2022 PETstock Pet Parent Report

Research was undertaken by PETstock in March 2022. Total sample size was 1583. The figures are representative of Australian pet owners aged 18+ nationally.

Dr Kate Mornement

Dr Kate Mornement is an Applied Animal Behaviourist, consultant, expert witness, educator and media spokesperson based in Melbourne. She has a PhD in canine behaviour, from Monash University, and a Bachelor of Science with first class honours in zoology (Animal Behaviour) from La Trobe University.


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