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12 Facts About Pets and Pet Ownership for National Pet Day

It goes without saying that for pet owners, every day is National Pet Day—but the official holiday is held on April 11 every year. The first National Pet Day was first held 10 years ago and was created by Colleen Paige, according to its website, not just to celebrate all of the joy pets bring their human companions, but “to create public awareness about the plight of many different kinds of animals awaiting a forever home in shelters and rescues around the globe.” The awareness is sorely needed: According to the ASPCA, 7.6 million animals enter shelters in the U.S. every year, and 2.7 million animals are euthanized. To get you prepped for the holiday, we’ve thrown together a few facts about pets and pet ownership—as well as a few facts about the mental_floss staff’s beloved animal companions.

1. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners in the United States spent $60.28 billion on their furry friends in 2015. That number is expected to rise by more than $2 billion in 2016.

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2. Cats don’t typically meow at each other—that’s a communication tool reserved for their humans. According to Science of Us, in a 2003 study, researchers at Cornell University recorded meows from 12 cats in five typical scenarios; when they played the meows for humans, the people who either had cats, interacted with cats, or liked cats were far more successful in deciphering the scenario. According to the lead author, Nicholas Nicastro, cats are very good at changing their vocalizations depending on the situation: The 7 a.m. “feed me” call, for example, is longer and has more energy in the lower frequencies, while the “adopt me” meow at the local shelter is shorter and equal in low and high frequencies. After millennia of working together, each species has managed to figure out what the other one wants.

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3. Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.dog

4. Goldfish have a reputation as short-lived creatures, but given proper care, they can live as long as 30 years in captivity. The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded was won at a fair in 1956 and died in 1999 at age 43.

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