Culture

How Much Did You Spend on Your Pet Last Year?

The American Pet Products Association released their annual report on consumer spending for companion animals, revealing that Americans dropped $58 billion on their beloveds.

What kind of market are we talking about? How’s this for an eye opener. Stats from American Pet Products Manufacturers Association:

According to the 375 page survey that tracks hundreds of pet ownership trends, Americans own approximately 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 18 million small animals and 11 million reptiles.

What is that $58 billion spent on?

The association measures five areas of spending. Last year, people spent $22 billion on food; $15 billion on veterinary care; $14 billion on supplies such as beds, bowls and collars and over-the-counter medicine to fight ailments such as fleas, ticks and colds; $4.8 billion on other services; and $2 billion on animals themselves.

The “other services” category grew the fastest in 2014 and includes payments on grooming, boarding, walking, training, day care and even trips to the spa — where pets can get facials and massages, said Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the pet products association, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The report says trips to the veterinarian were unchanged or slightly down last year, although expenditures per visit have increased as owners green-light more expensive procedures, Vetere said. Those treatments ranged from the lifesaving to the exotic, like plastic surgery.

A robust human-animal bond still exists, especially with dogs and cats, and people are doing more to prolong their pets’ lives, from surgery to food, Vetere said.

This can’t be making Hollywood happy:

COMPARING SPENDING

People spent about five times more on their pets than they did on movies last year. The box office firm Rentrak estimated that ticket sales from 2014 totaled $10.4 billion, a 5.2 percent drop from 2013. But people spent far more on their homes than they did their pets, with expenditures from home improvements and repairs reaching $298 billion in 2013, the most recent data available.

We spend $100 a month on our three cats, including food, treats, and toys. Sue can’t resist getting the beasts toys, which they will play with for exactly three hours and then ignore forever. We tried growing our own catnip last summer but because of conflicting information, did not cure the plant correctly. We now spend a fortune on the stuff looking for a brand they like.

The best catnip available commercially used to be Cosmic Catnip, which was a company founded by a bunch of hippies who loved cats and grew catnip that the little ones went ape over. Alas, the hippies got greedy and sold the business to a large company that now sells overpriced stems and tries to pass it off as catnip.

Many of us draw the line when it comes to super-expensive procedures to keep our loved ones alive — especially if they are along in years and suffering. But more and more people are going into hock these days to give their companions life saving treatments — just as they would any other member of the family.

The human-animal relationship is evolving. The change is driven partly by commerce but mostly because we are recognizing more value to the personal relationship we have with our pets. It shouldn’t surprise us that we spend nearly $60 billion on our loved ones. When they’re happy, we’re happy.