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Kids Enjoy Pet Rats More Than Cats and Dogs, Study Finds


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Move over cats and dogs—rats are getting more love. Children between the ages of 10 and 17 years old get more satisfaction from owing pet rats than they do from canines and felines, according to an eight-year pet ownership study conducted by RightPet, an online resource for pet owners. 

The RightPet study surveyed nearly 17,000 pet owners across 113 nations, who shared detailed reviews of the specific breeds and species of animals they currently own, previously owned or have worked with. 

“Many people view their pets as family members. But pets are family members that we get to choose,” said Nathan W. Hudson, Ph.D. “The RightPet study was designed to understand the extent to which individual differences—such as personality, gender and age—predict how satisfied people are with different types and breeds of animals as pets.”

According to the study, adults who previously owned, and children who own or have owned, animals between the ages of 10 and 17 years old rated satisfaction with pet rats higher than any other type of pet, including dogs and cats.

The study also found surprising personality and gender differences between cat and dog people. Women like cats more than dogs. In contrast, men like cats and dogs the same. In addition, women and men are both more satisfied with larger dog breeds than small breeds. This is especially true for men, who are happiest with large and giant dog breeds, according to the study.
Pet owners who score high in the personality trait of “openness” tend to be more satisfied with dogs than cats.

Men who experience a lot of negative emotions tend to be less satisfied with cats than more emotionally-stable men (i.e., ones who experience fewer negative emotions). In contrast, moody and anxious women tend to enjoy cats just as much as their more emotionally-stable peers.

Based on 32 types of pet and livestock animals included in the survey, geese and scorpions are the least satisfying animals to own. 

The survey also included a scientifically-validated personality quiz, which measured participant’s personality traits, using the Big Five (or Five-Factor) model of personality dimensions.

“Today’s data-loving pet owners and future pet parents can use RightPet to find what pet best matches their experience, lifestyle, preferences and personality,” said Brett Hodges, founder of RightPet. “More importantly, we use RightPet’s growing data to help pet owners make evidence-based health, behavior and wellness choices for their new best friend each step of the way as they grow together.”

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