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World goes to the dogs as cats lose their cool

Cats look likely to be caught by their canine rivals and be overtaken in the hierarchy of British pets.

Dogs are now firmly on the way to regaining their once-unchallenged hegemony over their feline enemies. Cats displaced them as the nation's favourite pet for the first time in 1994, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA), as Britain's reputation as a nation of dog-lovers waned. But market analyst Mintel is to publish a report based on data from the PFMA that shows cats have declined from a peak 9.6 million population to about 8.6 million. Dogs are at 8.3 million and rising rapidly enough that they could catch cats as early as this year.

Neither cats nor dogs, however, can match pet fish in terms of sheer numbers. There are estimated to be about 140 million pet fish in Britain, with the average owner having about 22 and 7 per cent of enthusiasts boasting more than 100 each.

As regards the substantial growth in the number of dogs which are being kept as pets, the Kennel Club reportedly has concerns that some owners have not given sufficient thought as to whether they can look after the animal.