​It’s officially Generation Pet

A new generation of animal lovers are delaying parenthood and choosing pet ownership instead, a new survey from Blue Cross has revealed.

Three in 10 couples choose having a pet first over children, more than 60 per cent of those questioned agreed that getting a pet before having children gets you into the right mind-set of being a parent, and half of respondents said pets would help them become more responsible.

Zoe Belucci, 27, and her partner Justin Ballard are doting owners of jack russell Jackson. Zoe said: “Justin and I have been together for nearly five years and have just bought our first house, so we are often asked that dreaded question ‘So, when

are you going to have babies?’ to which I say ‘If I want to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet I'll put shoes on my dog!’.

It has been previously reported that many Brits are postponing parenthood until their 30s, and 70 per cent of people who took part in the survey agreed that putting off parenting and getting a pet instead is becoming more popular amongst young couples. 

According to our research, the most popular type of pet couples are caring for are dogs, with labradors the most popular breed, and more than a third of those who chose dogs said the reason for this was they “wanted a proper companion that stayed with them 24/7”.

Health care assistant Sophia Catling, 25, and her support worker husband Adam, 26, weren’t ready for children but wanted a family of their own, so adopted cat Chilli.

The couple said: “We're sure there are many people who have pets instead of children particularly if they are unable to have children or do not feel ready and these days many people have children much later in life because they are focussing on their careers, but getting a pet in the meantime still makes you feel like you’ve started a small family and gives you the opportunity to care for and look after something.”

Hannah Wiltshire, Rehoming and Advice Manager at Blue Cross, said: “This is Generation Pet! Our animals are seen as part of the family, so much so that many couples are choosing to get them before they have children. 

“Taking on a new pet is a massive responsibility that costs time and money – so not too dissimilar to having kids. Getting a pet is the first thing many couples think about when settling down to start a family, but make sure you can care for that pet well into its future, even when the patter of tiny feet come along.”

Parents who took part in the survey also agreed they felt they became more responsible after owning a pet.

Hannah added: “Caring for a pet can fulfil maternal and paternal instincts, both for those who don’t want or can’t have children, or for those who perhaps want to have kids later in life.  However there are lots of important things to consider when taking on a pet and Blue Cross is there to help.”

Tips for choosing the right pet

  • Say goodbye to preconceived ideas - You may like the look of a particular pet but that doesn’t mean they’re right for you.
  • Think about your lifestyle - For example, if you work full time and you want a dog, who would take care of them during the day? Are there any local dog day care or dog walking services you can use and have you looked into the cost of this?
  • Don’t impulse buy - Your new pet could live for anything from two years to 20 or more and that impulse purchase might not seem like a good idea further down the line
  • Do your sums - From every day things like insurance, food and toys to unexpected vet bills. Having a pet is a big financial commitment.
  • Think about a rescue pet - Thousands of stray, abandoned and unwanted pets are desperate for a good home. Charities like Blue Cross can offer support and advice about individual pets and help you find the right one for you and your family.
  • Find your perfect match - Blue Cross has a tailor-made rehoming scheme, which means that we’ll look at each case individually and help you find the right pet for your home, your family and your life.
— Page last updated 19/10/2020