Cats Expected To Top Dogs As Most Popular Pet In Japan

Cats expected to top dogs as most popular pet in JapanCats are poised to end the long reign of dogs as Japan’s favorite pet this year, as man’s best friend has become somewhat of a burden in the nation’s aging society.
The number of pet dogs stood at 10.35 million in 2014, compared with 9.96 million felines, according to a Japan Pet Food Association survey of 50,000 people.

But the association, which has conducted the nationwide annual surveys since 1994, noted that pet dogs have decreased by 12.8 percent over the past five years, while the number of cats has clawed up by 3.6 percent over the same period.

If the trend continues, pet cats will outnumber dogs in 2015, according to the association.

“It is easy even for single people to keep cats because it is not necessary to take them for a walk,” said Yoshio Koshimura, 67, honorary chairman of the association. “In this year’s survey, the number of cats will be bigger than that of dogs.”

Sixty percent of all dog and cat owners are in their 50s or older, according to the survey for 2014.

Many older people are finding it troublesome to walk or train their dogs. In addition, pets that were bought during the late 1990s small-dog craze in Japan are reaching the end of their life spans.

“As pet owners age, they feel a bigger burden in taking care of their dogs, which has led to a continual decrease in the number of dogs,” said Koji Hashimoto, a senior researcher of market research company Fuji Keizai Co.

The rising popularity of cats is also evident in media.

According to Shonan Animal Production Inc., a company based in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, that provides animals for television dramas and commercials, 80 percent of requests used to be for dogs, but cats now occupy 60 percent of the requests.