Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 30th March 2024

How The Cost Of Living Is Changing The Way The UK Enjoy Pets

photo supplied by TrustedHousesitters
photo supplied by TrustedHousesitters
The way people interact with pets is changing as the price of pet ownership soars and those without their own animals look for cost-effective and meaningful ways to enjoy the pet experience.

69% of Brits describe themselves as animal lovers. However, many could be priced out of having full-time pets, with the RSPCA reporting a heartbreaking 11% increase in abandonment figures last year. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says vet fees have risen faster than other services during the cost of living crisis, making the reality of responsible pet ownership a struggle for many.

While a standard vet consultation costs around £60 on average, emergency, out-of-hours visits can cost £200 – and additional costs, such as MRI scans or treatments, can quickly reach the thousands.

Those who want pet companionship without the long-term commitment or cost are turning to alternative, creative solutions. TrustedHousesitters, a pet sitting platform that allows sitters to live in pets' homes and enjoy their company while owners are away, has noted a 55% uplift in pet sits over the last year.

Here are four ways animal lovers across the UK are enjoying time with pets during the cost of living crisis:

1. Pet sitting

Pet sitting allows for a truly authentic pet experience, as the sitters live with the pet 24/7 and form unique bonds. pet sitting platform TrustedHousesitters has experienced a 55% uplift in petsits over the last year, as owners look for sitters to keep their pets safe and happy at home while sitters look to explore new locations and spend quality time with pets.

The benefits of pet sitting are extensive for both humans and pets. Animals can remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes while their owners are away, eliminating the stress and discomfort of unfamiliar boarding facilities, while sitters can enjoy a cost-effective way of travelling to new locations while forming close bonds with pets.

Pet sitting couple, Debbie and Robert Woodhouse, explain:
“For us, house sitting means we get to meet many different pets and really get to know them. Sometimes, we look after them for several weeks to build a real bond with them.

“We often return to the house to sit for people, and in many cases, the pets remember us. We did one sit for five weeks last year, and when we returned this year for a four-week sit, the dog was so excited to see us, definitely remembering us. The owner said she hoped he would greet her as enthusiastically when she returned from her holiday!

“We develop a real connection with pets; while initially, some may need reassurance, soon they are happy to be with you. Having a dog to walk or a cat to stroke is good for the soul. We feel privileged to look after and ‘adopt’ them for the length of the sit.”

Veterinary surgeon, Pete Wedderburn explains how pet sitting enhances pet health:
"Pet parents are proactive in looking after their pet's health and doing what is best for them. pet sitting is a great way to keep your pets stress-free, happy and healthy in their own home. It also helps to avoid any unnecessary visits to the vets or ER that may be caused by changes in diet or less comfortable environments."

2. Animal shelter volunteering

For those who don’t have pets but crave animal companionship, volunteering at an animal shelter brings the benefits of being around pets while also helping shelters. Both dog and cat lovers can spend time with the animals they love, helping to socialise them and support their ongoing welfare. The Cinnamon Trust is one such charity that helps support senior pet owners struggling with pet care. Through The Cinnamon Trust, volunteers can help walk, transport and even temporarily foster pets, offering countless benefits to existing pet owners while helping petless animal lovers bond with pets. Many local charities also offer volunteering opportunities, providing an excellent option for those without pets to benefit from animal companionship while supporting a great cause.

photo supplied by TrustedHousesitters
photo supplied by TrustedHousesitters
3. Cat and puppy cafes

While cat cafes have been popular for some time, there has been a recent rise in puppy cafes, providing even more solutions for animal lovers to spend quality time with pets. Both cat and puppy cafes offer a relaxed environment in which to enjoy a drink and spend time with animals, making them a perfect way to get the mental health boost of pets without full-time ownership. Many cat and dog cafes are partnered with local animal shelters or charities, with entry fees and donations from cafe patrons contributing to the care and support of the animals, making it a win-win for both humans and pets.

4. Local animal meetups

Animal meetups are also a common way for pet lovers to meet and interact with pets if they can't commit to owning one themselves. Hosted at local bars or cafes, these meetups are designed for pet owners; however, they welcome individuals who may not have pets but love animals and want to engage with them in a social setting. These meetups are perfect for animal lovers to meet and interact with other like-minded people and their pets while providing great socialisation opportunities for the pets, too.

Angela Laws, Head of Community at TrustedHousesitters, comments:
"At TrustedHousesitters, we're thrilled to see the growing trend of pet lovers finding innovative ways to enjoy animal companionship, even without full-time ownership. Our platform has seen a significant increase in pet sits over the last year, highlighting how people want authentic pet experiences and meaningful connections. We're proud to offer a solution that benefits owners, pets and sitters alike, allowing animal lovers to build unique bonds while taking care of beloved pets."

To learn more about the TrustedHousesitters platform, click here