The Truth About Cat and Dog Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are plenty of divisions in a nation of over 300 million people, from Democrats versus Republicans to Pepsi versus Coke.  And let's not forget the one between cat lovers and dog lovers.

A report from the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) on the demographics of U.S. pet ownership found that the preference for cats or dogs sometimes runs along regional lines.

After polling more than 50,000 Americans about their pets for their 2012 Pet Ownership Sourcebook, the AVMF found that the states with the highest percentage of dog owners were most likely to be located in the East South Central and West South Central regions, while cat owners were more prevalent in the New England and Pacific coast regions.

Dogs are still America’s pet of choice, with approximately 43.3 million households owning one or more dogs.  Although the state with the highest percentage of dog owners is Arizona, with 47.9 percent or approximately 1.7 million households including a dog, the state mammal is the ringtail cat.

Cats are America’s second favorite pet, with more than 36 million households having at least one feline resident.  The state with the highest percentage of cat owners is Vermont, with nearly half of all households including at least one cat.  Their state mammal is the Morgan horse.

Although two thirds of pet owners consider their pets part of the family, the total percentage of American households with a pet has decreased 2.4 percent since 2006, to 56 percent.  Cat ownership decreased even more, falling 6.2 percent from 2006 to 30.4 percent in 2012.

By comparison, dog ownership declined only 1.9 percent from 2006.

“We didn’t ask survey respondents why they may no longer own a pet, but we’re fairly certain that the economy played a pretty good role in the drop of pet owners,” said AVMF spokesperson David Kirkpatrick.

While people may have fewer pets, their pets are growing in size.  The report notes that American pets, similar to American adults, increasingly have a weight problem.  Since 2006 there has been a 37 percent increase in overweight dogs and a 90 percent increase in overweight cats.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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