Dogs currently hold the title of man’s best friend, but a new study from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) says they may not hold it for long. The PFMA recently reported that the number of cat owners in the UK took a drastic jump this past year. In 2015-2016, the study confirmed 17.1 percent of people living in England, Scotland, and Wales owned cats. But this year, that number rose to 18.3 percent. That’s about 500,000 more pet cats, bringing the total to eight million. And the reason behind this sudden influx of felines? According to researchers, about a million more men have adopted cats.
Researchers interviewed over 8,000 households, and their results concluded about 5.5 million men in the U.K. now own cats. That means one in five men in England, Scotland, and Wales are proud cat dads.
The sudden increase of feline-inclusive families may have something to do with celebrities like Ed Sheeran and Russell Brand who publicly flaunt the relationships they have with their cats. Sheeran rescued his cat, Graham, right before he was scheduled to be euthanized. The fuzzball is now a frequent feature on Sheeran’s social media accounts, and he also held a temporary position as an advice columnist. Russell Brand showed how much he loves his cat named Morrissey when he called in a cat psychiatrist to help the little guy cope when a new feline was added to the family.
Seeing these famous men unashamed to show they prefer cats over dogs may be the encouragement other men need to take in cats of their own. Owning a cat has often been stereotyped as unmanly, but recent research shows that perception is on its way out. More and more men are embracing cat ownership, and while those stats are a blow to canine egos everywhere, it’s good news for millions of rescue cats living in shelters.
There’s definite competition between cats and dogs in terms of popularity, but the PFMA study also showed they’re battling for second place. Neither dogs nor cats are the most popular pets in the UK. The winner of that title goes to fish, with more than 33 million being kept in tanks and small ponds across the UK.