Pets have become increasingly popular since the 1990s, including not just dogs and cats, but more unusual creatures , ranging from hamsters and ferrets to a wide selection of reptiles. The exact number of pets in Japan is not known. It is estimated approximately 10 million dogs and 7.7 million cats are kept as pets. The pet boom of the 1990s is characterized by a shift from outdoor to indoor pets, increasing the popularity of such small dogs as dachshunds, shih tzus, and chihuahuas.* The amount of money spent on pets has also gone up, from 2,129 yen per month in 1989 to 8,127 yen per month in 1999.**
A survey on pets by the Prime Minister's Office*** found that 68% of respondents enjoyed pets, but only about 37% actually owned pets. People cite cramped living quarters and the fact that pets are forbidden in many condominiums and apartment buildings as two of the main reasons for not keeping a pet. Of those who owned pets, 57.2% said they did so because someone in the family liked animals; 46.2% said having a pet was calming and relaxing; 38% said they owned a pet because they personally liked animals; and 21.2% felt keeping a pet was good for their children's emotional growth. In recent years, pets have been found to be a healing presence in such places as care centers for the elderly. These days, people talk more about "living with" their pet rather than just "owning" a pet.
*"Number of Registered Dogs by Breed, 2000," Japan Kennel Club
**Based on data on average monthly expenditures on pet-related items per household.
***Copyright (c) Japan Kennel Club, Inc., 1995-1997. All rights reserved. "Public Opinion Survey on the Care of Animals"