(Family Features) - Pets play extremely important roles in the lives of millions of Americans. They make us happy, provide us with unconditional companionship and keep us active. These furry companions treat us like every day is our birthday. Yet their birthdays mostly pass without notice, especially for pets adopted from shelter or rescue organizations. According to a survey of 1,000 pet-owning Americans, conducted by Purina, 43 percent do not know the exact birth date of their pet.*
However, that doesn't stop some pet owners from celebrating anyway. Thirty percent of the pet owners surveyed said they celebrate their pet's birthday on the day they adopted their furry companion since they don't know their actual birth date. And 16 percent of celebrating pet owners just pick a random day to recognize their pet's birthday.
Pets are important parts of our lives and deserve a day dedicated to their birthday. Not just the day they were adopted or a random day during the year, but our four-legged friends have earned one very special day where they can celebrate their "Fur-real Birthday."
"Pets and their owners share a unique bond, and we should all take time to celebrate the life of every dog and cat," says Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, entertaining expert and author of Dog Parties: Entertaining Your Party Animals. "Pets lift our spirits everywhere they go. Events like these give pet owners the opportunity to honor the companion who provides them with friendship when they are lonely, comfort when sick and, of course, unconditional love. I encourage all pet owners to celebrate their pet when it's their special day."
Purina is providing everything pet lovers need to host a birthday celebration their pet will never forget on www.purinapetlover.com, including party themes, decorations suggestions, gift ideas and more for the perfect pet party. These tips will come in handy for the 92 percent of pet owners who say they celebrate their four-legged companion's birthday because their pet is part of the family and needs to be recognized.
Celebrating Our Furry Friends
Americans also include their pets in other family-related activities and celebrations. For example, nearly a third of those pet owners surveyed have taken a family portrait with their dog or cat. And, while Christmas is still several months away, don't be surprised if you get a card from Fluffy or Fido, as 31 percent of pet owners sign their pet's name on birthday and Christmas cards.
"We recognize how important pets are to their owners and we want to help them celebrate the remarkable pets in their lives," says Maria Reed of Purina Pets For People. "By working together with local shelters, we will make sure no pet's birthday goes unnoticed by showing these special dogs and cats just how much they mean to us."
For information on how to add a four-legged friend to the family or to see a list of shelters throwing "Fur-real Birthday Pawty" celebrations in your area, current and prospective owners can visit www.purinapetlover.com to find adoptable animals in their area.
*The survey interviewed more than 2,000 adults, ages 18 and over, living in the United States during a two-week period in late March 2008. Phone interviews were conducted via Opinion Research Corporation, a pioneer in marketing research. Most results have a margin of error of +/- 5% at the 95% confidence level for comparable data between the populations of pet owners.
Four-legged Birthday Fun
Whether celebrating as part of the Purina "Fur-real Birthday Pawty" Celebration or another day, pet lovers should be sure to shower their dog or cat with love and a special birthday gift. Pet owners celebrate their furry friends' birthday in many different ways, but what are some of the most common ways they honor their four-legged birthday celebrants?
According to the Purina survey, 82 percent of pet owners who celebrate their pet's birthday say they buy their pet a new toy. In addition, 75 percent of pet owners give their pet a special treat or food for their birthday. And 40 percent of respondents say they take their pet for a longer walk or go to the park to spend quality time with their four-legged loved one.
Pet Party "Pet-iquette"
There are a number of different ways you can have a wonderful birthday celebration for your furry friend. Below, Kimberly Schlegel Whitman offers a few of her favorites:
- Set up a big buffet for all of your guests. For your human guests, simple refreshments can better suit your pet-friendly event when given an appropriate name. For example, instead of nachos, serve "Chihuahua cheese quesadillas." For pet guests, fill bowls with a variety of treats for owners to provide their pets.
- Make a mix of dog and cat themed songs on your MP3 or CD player. Start with classics like "Hound Dog" and "What's New Pussycat?" Have fun using your imagination.
- For a more intimate event, set up a low, child's height table for your guests. Alternate dog and cat beds or floor pillows with stools for your human guests. Cover the table with pet treats and let your four-legged friends feast!
- Dress the part. Keep your eye out for the perfect outfit for your pet or use your imagination and make your own. Cut holes in a tee shirt or decorate a small tutu and pamper your pet!
For more pet-focused birthday party ideas and tips visit www.purinapetlover.com or Kimberly's Web site at www.kimberlyschlegel.com.