Pet Population Update Shows Industry Still in the Catbird Seat

Press Release
Aug 6, 2021

Rockville MD, August 6, 2021 – In the wake of COVID-19, the overall percentage of U.S. households owning pets notched up from 54.0% in 2019 to 56.4%, according to Packaged Facts’ just-released Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.

By type of pet, 44% of households own dogs, 25% own cats, and 12% own other pets (including fish, small mammals, herptiles, and birds).

Pet adoption and pet acquisition trends in 2021 have remained positive, according to David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, if not as supercharged as in the near-term wake of COVID-19.

Packaged Facts estimates that pet population growth in the wake of COVID-19 brought the number of pet dogs to 96 million in 2020, up by over 10 million from 2019, and the number of pet cats to 32 million, up by nearly 2 million from 2019.

The stay-at-home, work-from-home, and school-kids-at-home dynamics in the COVID-19 era, also edged up ownership rates for fish, small mammals (where guinea pigs now have pride of place) and reptiles/amphibians. Pet birds, however, continue to decline in popularity and have slipped to last place within these four main classifications of “other” pets.

Acquisition of pets other than dogs and cats in the aftermath of COVID-19 reflects the intertwined trends of owning multiple pets and owning multiple types of pets. While 11% of pet-owning households overall added pets other than dogs or cats, 19% of those who already had dogs or cats did so.

Not surprisingly, pet acquisition has been higher among the younger generational cohorts: among Millennials/Gen Zers who were already pet owners going into the COVID-19 era, 25% increased their level of pet ownership, compared with only 9% of their Boomer counterparts.

At the same time, the share of dog- or cat-owning households with senior pets has steadily risen such that over half of dog-owning households now have dogs age 7 or older, as holds true for their cat-owning counterparts.

From a longer-term 10-year perspective, some of the key growth for dog ownership has been in demographics traditionally under-represented as dog owners. This trend is spurred by several dynamics, including the graying of the U.S. population, the shifting composition of American households, and the increasing appeal of dog ownership to demographics traditionally less prone to keep pet dogs.

About Packaged Facts  

Packaged Facts, a division of, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, the food and beverage market, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, and pet products and services. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased at our company website and are also available through


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