Statistical Smorgasbord From Census

More American homes have dogs than cats, but a dog's life has one big drawback: They have to visit the vet more often.

About 85 percent of dog owners brought their pet to the doctor in 2001, compared with 67 percent of cat owners. Dogs, on average, visit the vet three times a year, one more than cats.

Those figures are among a smorgasbord of data collected in the latest Statistical Abstract of the United States, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. The thousand-page tome is light on words but heavy on numbers about life in the United States.

"We got all kinds of tidbits in here," said Glenn King, director of the staff that assembles the abstract. "It's America in numbers."

Among the findings:

  • The average cell phone call in 2001 lasted just under three minutes, and the average monthly bill ran $47.37.
  • In 2000, 44 percent of adults did volunteer work, contributing an average of 15 hours per month.
  • U.S. residents spent over $38 billion on lottery tickets in 2001, with about $2 of every $5 going toward instant scratch-off games.
  • About 36 percent of homes with pets have dogs, while 32 percent have cats. Cat owners were slightly more likely to have more than one pet purring around the house.
  • Nearly one in 20 pet-owning homes had a bird, and one in 50 owned a horse. Households that made at least $55,000 a year were more likely to have a dog, cat or horse, while homes that made less than $20,000 were more likely to have a bird.
"We get a number of people who come into the store here that have multiple animals — dogs, cats, birds — and they've got all of them in the house," Clay Mitchell of Critter Fritters, a pet store in San Francisco, told CBS Radio News.

Mitchell said dogs go to the vet more often than cats because dogs are outdoors more than cats.

"When you have an animal that is indoor only and they're not coming into contact with other animals of their kind, you're not getting as much illness and transfer of illness," he said.

The government puts together the fat fact book each year, compiling statistics collected by the Census Bureau as well as from private sources. The American Veterinary Medical Association supplied the data on pets.

It's not all fun and games, of course. This year's compendium includes a summary of recently released data from the 2000 census, covering income, education and poverty.

One section covers crime and law enforcement statistics. Another covers politics and voting data. Page 238 shows that George W. Bush received about 1,000 more votes for president than Al Gore in Florida in the 2000 election, according to statistics rounded off to the nearest thousand. (The final, certified tally showed Mr. Bush won by 537 votes.)

New information is added to keep up with America's changing interests. Statistics on snowboarding were first included two years ago. (More than 4.3 million people like to "get air" down the slopes).

Tables added this year include one on alternative work schedules — about 29 percent of full-time workers 16 and older who were not self-employed in 2001 said they had flexible work hours; and home schooling — 2 percent of kids age 5 to 17 with an educational level equivalent to between kindergarten and 12th grade were taught at home in 1999.

The statistical abstract is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office ($51 for a hard-bound version, $41 for paperback) by calling 202-512-1800.

It is also available from the National Technical Information Service ($47 for hardcover, $39 for paperback) by calling 800-553-6847.