Cryptocurrencies aren’t the only assets to have seen their value driven uprecently by hordes of eager buyers. It’s the same for cockapoos.

Bitcoin has risen about 170% so far this year. In the U.K., a Yorkshireterrier is up by about the same amount. I’d argue that it’s a price worthpaying (for a dog, not a punt on crypto), given the returns for your mentalwell-being.

Pets becoming more expensive reflects demand outstripping supply, as lonelyhomeworkers clamored for companionship during pandemic lockdowns and remoteemployment made it easier to care for furry friends during the day. Many morepeople around the world sought out dogs, cats, rabbits and even ferrets thisyear.

In the U.K. in April and early May, there were more than 400 buyers for everypet advertised, according to Pets4Homes, a digital platform that connectsbreeders and rescue shelters with those seeking to bring an animal home. Thatfell to around 200 buyers as the U.K. reopened but has risen again withtightening restrictions.

With supply relatively stable, breeders could charge much more for theiranimals. The average cost of a dog in the U.K. was up 131% in the thirdquarter of 2020, compared with the year earlier. As the chart below shows,many popular breeds exceeded that. Meanwhile, the average price of a cat was42% higher this year.

Pets are expensive to look after, too. Peter Pritchard, chief executiveofficer of British retailer Pets at Home Group Plc, describes the increase inownership as a “baby boom,” with the new household members unleashing anavalanche of demand for food, accessories, toys, grooming and veterinary care.

Globally, the pet food and products market — excluding prescription healthcare — is worth about $138 billion, according to Euromonitor International,with much of the growth coming online. No wonder shares in digital retailerChewy Inc. are up about 150% this year.

Although an animal’s love is, in many ways, priceless, the considerablefinancial outlay makes it worth asking: What’s the benefit? Or, as I like tosay, what’s the Return on Invested Cat?

A cat generally costs between 7,500 pounds and 10,000 pounds ($10,100 and$13,473) over its lifetime, according to Pritchard, excluding vet bills. Butwhether you’re lucky enough to have a lap-loving feline or have to make dowith a more standoffish moggy — like my own, Pearl, who demands food andoffers only the occasional cuddle — what seems to matter is that the animalstill provides a sense of closeness.

As for dogs, an owner would spend nearly 17,000 pounds over its lifetime. Andthe psychological benefits are even clearer than with cats. A canine friendbrings you companionship, enjoyment and a routine.

A recent survey of 6,000 U.K. pet owners by the University of York and theUniversity of Lincoln found that all pets — be they rabbits, rodents or evenreptiles — eased feelings of loneliness during the first pandemic lockdown inthe spring. Horses, dogs and cats seemed to provide the most comfort, but theemotional bond felt with birds and guinea pigs wasn’t that far behind.

One danger of a pet market boom (for the animals, at least) is what happenswhen the forces that made them so sought after in 2020 begin to reverse. Ifremote employment becomes less prevalent, or if economic consequences of thepandemic deepen, some people may be forced to part with their pets. In thefinancial crisis, many stretched families abandoned their animals.

Thankfully, there are few signs of this happening. It helps that many new petowners are affluent young professionals, who should still be able to afforddog sitters, walkers and veterinary care once they’re back in the office.Maybe the fashion for dog yoga will even stick around. Plus, many people whowanted a pet this year couldn’t find one. They may be able to step in iffriends or relatives can’t continue their commitment.

Let’s hope that a dog is for life, not just for lockdown.

Source: USA Washington Pos t

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