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31st October 2008


More than a third of Brits would rather have a pet than a baby

Brits are choosing to get a new pet in place of starting a family, according to a new survey. A total of 37 per cent of people said they would get their broody partner a pet instead of having children, according to the research conducted by Petplan, the UK’s leading pet insurance provider. The decision to put family life on hold in favour of nurturing a four-legged friend was almost equally divided between men and women, a meagre one per cent majority of men preferring pet ownership to fatherhood.

One in 20 married couples surveyed admitted to having already purchased a cat or dog instead of starting a family while 17 per cent of people got a pet because they didn’t like coming home to an empty house. A dog was the most popular pet to have in place of children followed by a cat.

The survey also revealed that you can forget names like Rover, Buster and Fluffy, pets are more likely to be named Molly, Alfie and Charlie.

The popular human monikers have now become favourites among pet owners with eight of the top ten pet names more commonly used to name children.

A spokesman for animal insurance specialists Petplan, said: ”This research shows that we are treating our pets more like members of our family than ever before, and we are even naming them as we would our children. Our records show, the way we name our pets often reflects what is happening in society at any given time. For example, we saw a sudden rise in the name ‘Alfie’ when Shane Richie’s character in Eastenders became popular. And just last week, we had a customer register two kittens named ‘Credit’ and ‘Crunch’!”

Top 10 most popular pet names: Top 10 most popular child substitutes:
1. Molly 1. Dog
2. Alfie 2. Cat
3. Charlie 3. Rabbit
4. Max 4. Guinea Pig
5. Willow 5. Rat
6. Jack 6. Hamster
7. Oscar 7. Mouse
8. Pepsi 8. Gerbil
9. Sam 9. Reptile
10. Holly 10. Bird

Further findings from the survey showed:

  • Molly and Willow are the most popular names for a cat, while Molly is a common name for dogs, rabbits and reptiles. Oscar is the favourite name for a rodent such as a gerbil or hamster, and Holly, Bobby, Rocky and Sparky are among the top choices for birds;
  • A worried 32 per cent of people practised calling possible pet names out loud before making a final decision to make sure the name wasn’t too embarrassing;
  • Twenty-three per cent of people say their pet’s name was chosen by a combination of family members, while 18 per cent let the children decide what to call the animal;
  • Forty-five per cent of people chose their pet because it was loving and 34 per cent said its faithfulness was the main reason for choosing it; and
  • Eleven per cent of Brits named their pets after a food or drink.

Survey conducted on www.onepoll.com

Total number of respondents – 3,000 pet owners

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

For more information about Petplan cat insurance, please visit:

For more information about Petplan dog insurance, please visit: