Graduates prefer cats to dogs
Clever people are more likely to own cats than dogs, a study has revealed as it emerged that domestic populations of both animals may have risen by eight million in 20 years.
The researchers explained the disparity by suggesting that professionals worked longer hours and had less time to devote to dogs.
Cats and dogs are among the most popular pets in the UK, but their population estimates were last published in 1989.
At that time there were found to be 6.2 million cats and 6.4 million dogs in the UK - a figure that has leaped to an estimated 10.3 million cats and 10.5 millions dogs, according to the University of Bristol.
The research was based on three sources - a telephone survey of nearly 3,000 households in 2007, the latest census of 2001 and the most recent figures on numbers and sizes of households.
Cats were more likely to be owned by households with gardens, households with someone qualified to degree level, respondents who were female and those less than 65 years old.
Women and people aged under 55 were more likely to report dog ownership. Dogs were less likely to be owned by households with one or more cats.
Dr Jane Murray, Cats Protection Lecturer in Feline Epidemiology, said the increase was mainly due to a rise in the UK population as a whole.
She said: "The study has shown many common factors relating to cat and dog ownership, such as a garden and rural location, but it has also identified some notable differences. In particular, the difference in the level of education achieved by a household owning cats and dogs.
"The reason for this association is unclear. It is unlikely to be related to household income as this variable was not shown to be significant but it could be related to household members with longer working hours having less time available to care for a dog. Past reports have suggested that the number of pet cats exceeds the number of pet dogs in the UK. However, results from our study suggest that there are similar numbers of pet cats and dogs."