Cat ownership rise driven by men, survey suggests
Cats may have already taken over the internet, but now they are stealing the hearts of UK men, a survey suggests.
The Pet Food Manufacturers' Association said the number of pet cats in the country has gone up by 500,000 to reach eight million in the past year.
The rise was driven by one million more men getting a feline friend, the PFMA, which spoke to 8,000 households, says.
Celebrity cat owners, such as Russell Brand and Ed Sheeran, may have also influenced the new pet owners, it says.
About 17% of men in the UK (5.5m) now own a cat, up from 13% (4.2m) in 2016, according to the survey.
Hugh Wigmore lives in London with his cat Nigel Harmsworth.
"I like having a cat because we have loads in common," said Hugh. "We both love cuddles, jelly and the outdoors!
"We get on really well. I'd definitely recommend it to other guys. Nigel is fantastic."
Sam Sahota went the extra mile, adopting three newborn kittens which had been dumped in a dustbin, despite a vet saying they had no chance of survival.
"I had always been a dog man, but when my colleague found a box with three kittens inside, my natural instinct was to save them from certain death," he said.
"I fed them milk from syringes, I placed a clock under their blanket to replicate the heartbeat of their mother and spent hours a day raising them."
Now Sam adores owning cats.
"The thing I love most is how playful they are," he added. "Their curiosity, the affection they show which is real, unlike a dog.
"Cats do not need the attention a dog does but when it gives you attention is not false. They select who they want to be with."
James Copeman, from Canterbury, said having cats made his house "feel full" and loves coming home to his two, Miles and Keiko, waiting at the door.
"We never had pets when I was young so it's something I've always wanted," he said. "They always seem to know when you need a bit of attention after a bad day.
"I'd definitely recommend it but you have to be prepared for the wake up calls, smelly litter trays and scratched furniture!"
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Mike Brooks, from Nottingham, has three cats and loves them as pets.
"I got a cat because I have always had cats since I was a child and they're wonderful creatures," he said.
"They're cute, usually cuddly (if you respect their wishes), generally low-maintenance, and there is nothing more satisfying than the purr of a happy cat."
Michael Bellingham, chief executive of PFMA, said: "Pet ownership is a rewarding experience for everyone. It's wonderful to see that men are realising the huge benefits of pets with an increase in cat ownership in this sector."
The most popular pet in the UK is fish - 33 million are kept in tanks and ponds around the country - followed by dogs at 8.5 million.
There are also 900,000 rabbits, 700,000 pet birds, 700,000 reptiles, 600,000 domestic fowl, 500,000 guinea pigs and 300,000 hamsters.