One family celebrates the birthday of her three dogs on the same day with sandwich cookies, favorite toys, and by singing happy birthday to them. Another gets a steak. Not knowing her exact birthday, family members celebrate their cat’s “adoption day,” when they found the calico underneath the porch.
A century ago, such celebrations were rare – if they ever occurred. It certainly would have been considered bizarre, at best. In 1901, for instance, dogs were rarely allowed inside the house, and cats were kept mostly for their ability to hunt mice.
Today, celebrating birthdays is common. Some people know the actual birthday of their pet, but others are increasingly using the day their four-legged friend came into their lives. The pets don’t know the difference, but they do appreciate the extra attention, treats and gifts.
The number of people who celebrate their pet’s birthday is uncertain. Some surveys show that more than 65 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners celebrate birthdays. Other surveys show a much lower number – 25 percent for dogs and 16 percent for cats. One oft-quoted statistic, compiled by the Purina Pet Institute, notes that 43 percent of dog owners celebrate birthdays, while 29 percent celebrate their cat’s birthdays.
Dogs are more likely to get a party thrown in their honor as well. Why the disparity? Probably because dogs get more excited when attention is lavished on them – although they’d probably react the same if their birthday was celebrated every day of the year. (For some pampered dogs, it may well be.) While a cat will appreciate a treat, special dinner or a new toy, dogs are more sociable with others of their own kind. They’re just party animals.
Pets also take part in special occasions of others. A study done by Hallmark shows that 62 percent of people sign their pets’ names to birthday and holiday cards.