Nearly half of pet owners say they treat their pet like their children, with some preferring them to family members, a survey has found. Five per cent said they considered their pet to be more important than their family.
A fifth of owners said they planned to leave their pets money in their will to ensure they were looked after when they died, according to the research.
Half of dog owners allow their pets on the sofa, while one in two cats sleep on their owner's bed every night.Nearly two-thirds of dogs and 45% of cats receive a gift for their birthday and Christmas.
But despite their devotion to their pets, only 20% of owners have taken out insurance in case their cat or dog needs expensive veterinary treatment. Andrew Goodsell, chief executive of Saga, the company that carried out the research, said: "We know that, for many, the company of a beloved cat or dog can really make a difference to their quality of life. "However, it's important that people seriously consider taking out insurance to cover their pet in case of an accident or illness."