File photo: Pets are falling out of fashion as houses and flats become smaller.

London - When people say they don’t have room to swing a cat nowadays, they probably aren’t joking.

Pets are falling out of fashion as houses and flats become smaller. In addition, more people are renting their homes from landlords who ban animals.

Financial strains have also led to couples marrying and having children later in life, squeezing out the time and money needed to look after an animal.

The news comes from the retail analysis firm Mintel, which suggests the decline is bad news for a nation’s wellbeing.

Mintel found that ownership of all types of pets has fallen in the past five years. It carried out a survey that found owning a pet is fun, relaxing and comforting.

Having a dog even boosts your health because of all the walks in needs.

Emma Clifford, from Mintel, said: "Pet ownership does have a positive effect on the owner."

But she added: "Shrinking household sizes and the trend of consumers starting their families later in life are all having a negative effect on pet ownership.

"Additionally, the shift towards privately rented accommodation continues to put downward pressure on pet ownership.

"Long-term, the growing population of over-55s present an ongoing challenge to the pet industry."