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Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

NEW YORK — It turns out that confidence might be a cat owner’s biggest bluff! Despite a whopping 92 percent of cat owners claiming they know their furry friends inside and out, a new survey involving 2,000 American cat parents reveals many have a surprising lack of basic knowledge and understanding about of their furry friend’s needs.

Cat parents, on average, give themselves a four out of five rating for how well they take care of their cats and report that they believe their cats would also give them a four out of five rating for being superb owners. However, cat parents confess that, on average, they forget to fill their cats’ water bowls twice weekly and even forget to feed their cats three times a week.

Commissioned by PetSafe and conducted by OnePoll, the study finds that only 17 percent of respondents knew that cats have 18 toes, and almost half (46%) didn’t know that many cats are lactose intolerant — debunking the popular image of a cat enjoying a bowl of milk.

The majority of American cat owners (56%) were unaware that cats purr due to both pleasure and distress, and only a fifth (20%) knew that cats share 96 percent of their DNA with tigers.

infographic on how many toes cat have and their owners ignorance of the fact

“By how well cat parents score themselves in terms of pet parenthood, it is obvious how much owners love their furry friends — there’s no doubt about it. The research found that seven in ten (69%) even said they can tell what their cat is thinking, even if they can’t communicate using words. But it also revealed some room for improvement in knowing about cats, so we can better take care of these furry companions,” says spokesperson Janna Chollet, senior marketing manager at PetSafe, in a statement. “With warmer months approaching, it’s important that cat parents have all the information they need to care for their cats, especially when it comes to hydration.”

More than four in 10 people (47%) didn’t know that cats prefer their water moving. In fact, felines are more likely to drink water when it’s flowing rather than when it’s still.

The vast majority (86%) also report that their cats are sufficiently hydrated on a regular basis, yet three in four respondents didn’t know that cats should drink roughly one ounce of water for every pound they weigh each day.

The poll finds that although six in 10 cat parents (59%) admit they believe it’s healthier for their felines to drink filtered water versus unfiltered water, only 34 percent follow through and give their cats filtered water on the regular. 

cat drinking water from bowl
Cats should drink roughly one ounce of water for every pound they weigh each day. (Photo by Carolien van Oijen on Unsplash)

Four out of five cat owners (79%) say their cats drink most of their water out of a bowl, and 23 percent report their cats mostly use a fountain to stay hydrated. Of cat parents who chose a bowl over a fountain, reasons for doing so include that it’s what their cat is used to (47%), it’s easy to fill up (44%), and it’s easy to clean (37%). Almost seven in 10 cat parents whose cats use a water bowl (68%) say they’d be likely to choose a fountain in the future if it could be proven that cats drink more water if it’s running and not sitting still.

For parents that prefer for their cats to drink out of a fountain, the top reasons for doing so were that their cat is attracted to running water (52%), the water is cleaner, fresher, and healthier for their cat (43%) and they have more peace of mind knowing their cat has clean water (40%). 

Cat parents who opt for a fountain say the most frustrating parts about cat fountains are being concerned it will stop working while they’re out of the house (31%), the amount of cleaning required (29%), expensive replacement filters (27%), and scrubbing mold out of the fountain (27%). 

“Because cats add so much love to our lives and are mostly dependent on us, as owners, to meet their needs, we need to do our very best to take excellent care of them,” says Chollet. “Staying hydrated is the foundation of health so we encourage cat parents to choose a hydration solution that provides enough fresh, clean, running water for their furry friend since we know that cats drink more water if it’s moving. Hydrated cats are happy cats.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American cat owners was commissioned by PetSafe between Mar. 22 and Mar. 30, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Patrisha Antonaros

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