A survey of 2,000 cat and dog owners in relationships discovered a quarter would prefer to cuddle up on the sofa with their furry friend than their significant other.
While nearly a fifth enjoy spending one-on-one time with their four-legged companion more than with their partner – with not being asked ‘silly questions’ one of the top reasons.
Others favour the company of their pet because they help them relax and they are better for their wellbeing.
It also emerged pet owners have an average of more than 40 pictures of their pooch or pussycat on their phone, with nearly half claiming this is more than they have of their partner.
As a result, three in 10 think their loved one is jealous of the attention they give their pet.
Dr James Greenwood, practising and resident vet on ITV’s The Pet Show, has teamed up with healthy and ethical pet food producers Webbox and Webbox Naturals, which commissioned the survey.
He said: “The research shows that, for some couples, the four-legged friend can take the starring role in the relationship.
“But it is wonderful to learn just how much of a strong connection animal lovers have with their cats and dogs; these are bonds which will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
“It is from an early age where these relationships blossom into a lifelong companionship and it all starts with love, care and attention – as well as the occasional treat as a positive reward for good behaviour.
“A nutritious diet plays such an important role when it comes to strengthening these bonds from the outset.”
The study also found 35 per cent of those polled kiss and hug their pet more than their partner, while a third believe they buy their cat or dog more gifts and treats.
When chatting with friends and family, 23 per cent will bring their cat or dog up in conversation more than their spouse.
A further 23 per cent will look forward to seeing their pet more than their partner after a long and stressful day.
The survey, conducted via OnePoll, revealed pet owners will profess their love for their pet eight times per week – and 30 per cent think this is more often than they tell their partner.
More than eight in 10 said spending time with their pet makes them feel less lonely and 69 per cent consider them to be one of their best friends.
While 56 per cent will celebrate their pet’s birthday and 22 per cent will even set them a space at the table for special occasions.
It also emerged nearly a third have received a card or gift from their spouse on behalf of their pet to celebrate a special occasion.
And more than one in 10 want their loved one to step up to the plate and get them a gift or card from their pet.
Julie Butcher, pet expert at Webbox and Webbox Naturals, said: “It goes without saying for most cat and dog owners their fur babies are another member of the family – so why not get them involved for special occasions.
“Pet owners love nothing more than treating their furry friend, either with treats or giving them an abundance of attention – but hopefully it won’t rub their partner up the wrong way.
“We have lots of treats and meals that are puppy and kitten friendly, so from young to old, you can show your pet love that lasts a lifetime.”
For pet owners curious if they love their pet more than their partner, Webbox and Webbox Naturals have created an expert guide here.
1. Go for a walk or run
2. Cuddle on the sofa and watch a film/TV
3. Take a nap
4. Take them to work
5. Do the gardening
6. Go to the beach
7. Give them a massage
8. Have a photoshoot
9. Go on holiday
10. Cook for them