During times of stress and strife, those closest to us can provide valuable support. That might mean a spouse, family members, or friends. But often, the support we really value doesn’t come from human beings at all, but from beloved family pets.

The research was commissioned by the National Accident Helpline, a solicitor specialising in personal injury compensation. They have a special interest in support for those self-isolating, which goes back further than the current Covid-19 pandemic. Those who’ve suffered an injury can often find themselves housebound for extended periods of time, without anyone but the family dog or cat to provide company.

Surveyed were 2,000 pet owners from various parts of the UK, who were asked whether their pet helped them to destress. The answer was an emphatic endorsement of pets, with 87% claiming that their family pet helped them to remain calm. Just 2% of owners claimed the opposite, and just three people claimed to ‘strongly disagree’.

The most pet-friendly city was Glasgow, where 94% of respondents claimed that their pets were a relaxing influence, but Liverpool comes just behind that, on 93%.

Impact on Productivity

With more of us working from home than ever before, the distracting influence of the family pet can be a bit of a problem. The survey reflects this, with only a minority (13%) claiming that they found it easy to concentrate on household tasks with the family pet around. Interestingly, it’s young people who were able to cope with the distraction: just 59% of 18-24year olds were consistently distracted, a figure which rises to an amazing 82% among 45-54 year olds.

Interestingly, where you live exerts a significant influence on how likely you are to be distracted by your pet. In Bristol, the figure was 84%, while in Sheffield, it was just 55%. What might explain this trend is a matter of some mystery – but demographics and working habits probably play a big role.

Given the size of these numbers, we can draw one definite conclusion, and that’s that if you’re looking to get some important task done, it’s best to make the attempt while your pet is elsewhere!

What are the nation’s favourite pets?

The Labrador Retriever was a perhaps unsurprising runaway winner, topping the poll. They’re friendly and exuberant, but they also know when to quieten down and relax. The cockapoo came in second, with the springer spaniel coming in third. The rest of the list was largely made up from the most well-known breeds, with the Staffordshire bull terrier coming in sixth, and the golden retriever coming in eighth. Given the relative similarity of the two varieties of retriever, it’s likely the popularity of one over the other is a matter of branding.

Where cats are concerned, there’s on undisputed favourite, and that’s the British shorthair. According to the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, an organisation whose role it is to regulate pedigree cat breeding in the UK, this is also the most popular pedigree cat in the UK, with more than 7,500 animals registered.

Second on the list of most comforting cats is the Bengal, which is actually much less popular, with just 262 animals registered. Persian, Siamese and ragdoll make up the rest of the top five, with the latter being favoured for their famously easygoing nature.

In Manchester, the favourite pet was the British Shorthair, while in Liverpool it was the Cockapoo – which means that the Labrador is slightly less popular in this part of the country than elsewhere!