Pets Over Parenthood? Understanding Millennial Pet Obsessions
With half of Millennials transitioning into adulthood, nobody really knows what kind of parents they will be because as it turns out – most millennials have another thing (aside from owning a house and car) that are not on their list : HAVING KIDS. And here’s what they want more: PETS.
During the 2015 Global Pet Expo held at Florida, research firm GFK released a data showing that Millennials have overthrown Baby Boomers as the largest US pet owning population. Around 35% of the 75 million US Millennials compared to 32.8% of Boomers are happily living with their animal companions and acting as pet parents for their fury babies.
Is this a passing obsession or are Millennials favoring adopting pets over having kids? Here are plausible reasons why Millennials are opting for pets over parenthood:
1. Pets are cheaper to have than children
“Pets are becoming a replacement for children” says Dr. Jean Twenge, psychology professor, speaker, and author of the book Generation Me. In the USA, birth rate fell by 10 percent between the years 2007 and 2014, but ownership of dogs doubled in time.
“They’re less expensive. You can get one even if you’re not ready to live with someone or get married, and they can still provide companionship.” says Twenge. The average cost of raising a small dog on its first year is around $2,674 and $3,536 for larger breeds. While average dog health insurance simply cost around $41 per month.
A 2014 study by Wakefield Research found that the majority of Millennials were also more likely to splurge for their pets more than themselves. They were twice more likely to buy clothing than the previous generation. It’s clear that Millennials can’t afford a house, car, or even additional people in their lives- so they turn to pets for companionship.
2. Pets prepare Millennials for being parents
Parenthood is a huge responsibility, so Millennials can prepare for their first child by reading books about parenting, doing research, and testing what it’s like to have responsibility for another life by adopting a pet. Pets are just like children. You need to watch over them, feed them, bath them, and make sure they stay well and happy.
Once millennial couples cohabit, the next milestone on their priority list is often times to adopt a pet together.
According to many relationship experts, raising a dog can help committed couples practice parenthood. At the very least, it will give valuable experience that will help them once their child is born.
3. Pets allow more freedom
In her article for The Huffington Post, author Monica Cafferky shares her views about why she’s choosing a dog over a child. “When Tilly came into my life I already knew that I didn’t want the patter of tiny feet in my home – I wanted the patter of paws.”
Unlike a child that needs constant supervision 24/7, pets can be left alone at home while you head off to work or go out for the evening. You won’t be considered a bad pet owner if you leave your home to spend time on yourself; but with a child, well, things are more complicated.
“I thought long and hard about kids and realized a dog would give me more freedom.” Monica admits that there are some downsides with her decision, such as not being able to experience the joys of parenthood and risking being old and lonely someday- but for her, having a four legged baby is where she’s most happy.
4. Pets can help boost your earnings on social media
Using social media, Millennials have improved their popularity with the help of their celebrity pets. Grumpy Cat, Sockington, and Boo are 2015’s most popular pets on social media and they’ve helped their owners earn millions of dollars through brand endorsements, book deals, and merchandise.
Tabatha Bundesen, a certified millennial, and owner of grumpy cat, was able to quit her job as a waitress within days of her cat’s viral appearance on the internet. Much like children, celebrity pets can earn a lot of money in the world of show business, today.
Armela Escalona is a freelance writer who writes about startups, technology and productivity. Her work has been published in various blogs, news sites and magazines on the web. Her interests include poetry, cats, and history documentaries. Follow her on Twitter @ArmelaE.