Last year, Jessie got toys and the cats got play mice and a large bag of catnip. "They liked it so much we just threw it on the carpet and let them roll in it," Koch said.
He covered the goodies last year for a mere $8, but is setting aside $10 this year just in case prices have gone up.
George Smith, 43, a father of three in Adams County, Colo., says pets are "part of the family, just like our kids." But they keep the holiday gifts for Miley, a golden retriever, and Zippity, a cat, low-key: no fancy wrapping or stockings, just $10 worth of toys and treats.
Steve Gottula's budget was $100 last year and he figures it will run about the same this year for his two dogs and seven cats. Odie, a dachshund, and Sky, a Dalmatian, will get special bones, and the cats will get catnip and mouse balls.
Gottula, 48, his wife Leigh (she's the one who brings home the strays) and five kids (ages 6 to 16) live with the nine pets in Spring, Texas.
His daughters have made stockings for the pets — with their initials — and they are always part of holiday celebrations, Gottula said.
"The cats like to play with the paper and ribbon and get lost in the boxes and wrappings," he said.
What do his pets mean to him? "They are entertaining, they are companions. They have little senses of humor. They all have personalities. If you give love to them they give it back — it's unconditional," he said.
The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted Oct. 13-17 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,118 pet owners. Results among all pet owners have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
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