One in five dog owners kiss their pooch on the lips

Pets are part of the family more than ever.
Pets are part of the family more than ever. Photo: Shutterstock

A new study has found pet owners regularly kiss their pets goodbye in the morning, bath with their pets, and Facetime them when they can't be together. Researchers say many pet owners are treating their animals more like human family members as they crave the comfort of close relationships to cope with a more stressful life.

Almost one in five cat owners gets out of bed at 4am to serve breakfast. As a former cat owner myself, I can totally understand why they would do that. It's the only thing that will stop the incessant meowing and walking across your head.

Another 40 per cent say they take their dog to bed with them at night, which is understandable because dogs are warm and affectionate, and don't insist on keeping their reading lamp on until the wee hours of the morning.

Others at perhaps the more extreme end of the pet affection scale admitted to calling a friend or a relative so they could hear their cat purring while they're at work.

The study, commissioned by Lily's Kitchen pet food, asked 2000 dog and cat owners about their relationship with their pets. Over a quarter said they confided in their pets about their personal problems. This seems a pretty pointless exercise though, because not only are they rubbish at relationships, pets are also with you all the time you're at home. They already know how messed up you are.

Nine out of 10 pet owners live in their own happy little love bubble and don't care what I, or others, think about their weird relationship with their pets. It's special and pure and unique, and it's just between them.

Animal psychologist Dr Deborah Wells told the Sun, "This research highlights the intensity of owners' attachments to their dogs and cats and the lengths some people go to, to ensure their pets' needs are not only catered for, but, in many cases, exceeded.

"The acceptance by wider society that our pets are an integral part of the family unit has made it easier to indulge in our dogs and cats, enabling us to do things with our pets such as taking them out to dinner that several years ago simply wouldn't have been possible.

"As a social species, we are programmed to seek out relationships with others, human or otherwise. The infantile features common to dogs and cats, such as their big eyes and clumsy movements, can trigger care-giving behaviour.

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"This may explain some of the findings of the research, notably why we treat dogs and cats in much the same way as our children; we have simply evolved to love and care for soft, helpless things, human or otherwise."

As a mum of three and non-pet owner that sounds like the WORST reason to get a pet. I have infantile behaviour until the cows come home at my house already.

On the slightly stranger end of pet behaviour, about a fifth of dog owners kiss their pet on the 'lips'. (Do dogs have lips?) Some let their animal choose what to watch on TV, and read books to them, and around a third refer to themselves as their pet's mummy or daddy.

In a number that seems low, considering the study's other findings, around a third of pet owners admit others find their close relationship with their animals "odd", and around a fifth say they've been told they are too close to their pet.