Millennials are defined as being between the ages of 20 to 35 and are on the verge of overtaking the baby boomers that have benefited from great housing markets and cheaper education meaning they often have more money.
Instead of rushing into marriages and starting families, millennials are taking their time and working on their careers. How do they not feel lonely in the meantime? They own pets instead.
Saving Money and Living Free
It isn’t just that they are buying pets, but they are also adopting them as they become more aware of what happens to animals who aren’t adopted and left in shelters. Whether they are living with a partner or on their own, animals can offer companionship at a much cheaper cost than raising a child.
Jean Twenge is a psychology professor at San Diego State University and said, “Pets are becoming a replacement for children. 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.”
On average it will cost someone just over $2500 per year to raise a small dog, which is significantly cheaper than the average $13,000 to raise a child. In the US, 35% of millennials now own a pet of some kind compared to 32% of baby boomers, but money isn’t the only reason that figure is on the rise.
It takes a lot of time and effort to raise a child, especially in the younger years before they go to school. With kids, you can’t leave them at home while you go to work, but it is fine to do that with a dog or a cat. Although, some would argue that dogs still need to be walked in the middle of the day, whereas cats have litter trays to make it a lot easier.
Dogs or Cats?
Something that is interesting to note is the gender of millennials who are more likely to own a cat or dog. Surprisingly, it is men that were more likely to want company from an animal with 71% opting for a dog and 48% choosing a cat.
On the other hand, women were less interested in both species with 62% having a dog and only 35% favoring cats. The reason for this, according to Rebecca Cullen, an analyst at Mintel, is that women feel pets require too much work on their part and they are away from their home too much, which would be unfair on the pet.
Most people would think that a cat would be the most popular option, especially for women. They are smaller, the insurance is cheaper and the costs for keeping them fed is less expensive than the different brands of dog food. However, it is clear that people prefer to be greeted with a happy dog wanting to lick their face than a cat that takes one look at them and runs off to hide.
Practicing for the Future
Owning a pet can also be the perfect test for a couple that has moved in together and wants to see how they would cope with raising a child. It is the perfect stepping stone towards eventually having a family when the time is right, and it also allows people to see what their partner might be like as a potential parent. Are they too busy to spend time with the pet, do they ignore them, or are they extremely loving and treat it like a child?
Raising an animal can be difficult and tiring, especially when the pet is adopted as a puppy or a kitten. There will be nights where sleep is hard to come by when the pet won’t stop crying because they want attention, and this will show millennials exactly what is in store for them if they want to have a baby.
For millennials who are feeling the itch to have something or someone extra in their life but are worried about their finances, a pet is a perfect option. Of course, owning a pet can become expensive if you are spending hard earned money at trips to the dog spa, hiring someone to walk your dog for you and sending them to the kennels when you are heading out of town.
But overall, pets make for a great company and they have even been shown to lower stress levels after a hard day at work.