A warning to all love-sick pet owners from Ian Sample.
Over-indulging pets can spell disaster for singletons hoping to attract a new partner, according to a nationwide survey of attitudes to pet ownership.
Questionnaires completed online by more than 200,000 people revealed that the type of pet a person owned, the way they treated it and the number they owned had a dramatic impact on how appealing they were as a future partner.
Women were particularly unimpressed with men who owned spiders, with 48% admitting to being repelled at the prospect. Men were turned off by partners who pampered pets, spending more than £100 a week on accessories and upkeep. One in four men said they would not date a woman with two or more cats and a third of women said they would avoid men who let cats sleep on their pillows.
One quarter of men and women questioned said that if push came to shove, for example if a new partner was unbearably allergic to their pet, they would still choose to keep the pet.
The survey was conducted between YouGov and a dating agency, Parship, to investigate the potential pitfalls of having pets as surrogate partners. Victoria Lukats, a psychiatrist at Sussex Partnership NHS trust in Brighton, who was involved in the survey, said: "The image of Paris Hilton and her pampered pets is one that seems to send most men running for the hills."