Buying a pet? Then you'll soon have a baby on the way

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

New research from The Co-operative Pet Insurance has found a startling link between young couples buying a pet and then subsequently falling pregnant.

The figures show that almost half of young couples who buy a pet before having children will then have a baby on the way within a year.
According to the survey pet paraphernalia is soon swapped for cots, bottles and prams with 'peternal' instincts leading to 'parental' instincts.

Whilst 22 per cent of these couples didn't feel ready to have a child when they bought their pet, over a fifth said they bought the pet because they couldn't afford to have a baby and 10 per cent said it was to put their parenting skills to the test and see if they could be responsible for something other than themselves.

More couples from the West Midlands (68 per cent) fell pregnant within a year of buying their pet than any other region, with the least couples falling pregnant in Yorkshire and the Humber (11 per cent).

Of course this research will spark questions over whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will soon be thinking about children after the purchase of their new cocker spaniel, Lupo.

The majority of couples who buy a pet were planning to have a baby between one and two years afterwards, so falling pregnant so soon may have come as a surprise to many.

However for one in 20, looking after a pet has completely put them off ever having a child, whilst a fifth believe that pet ownership is enough of a responsibility for them and 14 per cent feeling that they get enough love from their pet alone.

Lee Mooney, Head of Pet Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: "Our findings show that for many couples pet ownership can be the first stage of starting a family.

"No doubt, having a pet leads to more responsibility and the findings show that this can lead couples to bring their baby plans forward or in some cases even abandon them completely!"

The assertion of one fifth of respondents that owning a pet would be a more affordable option for them than having a child would of course be right - research by Liverpool Victoria last year found the annual cost of a child to be around £10,400 a year.

Those respondents might be more surprised to hear however, that the cost of owning a pet is also quite dramatic - Sainsbury's Finance estimate it costs £1,183 a year to own a dog, and £1,028 to own a cat - over a pet's lifetime the cost is estimated at more than £18,000.
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