Pet Owners
Pets cost their owners billions last year. Getty Images

Pets are people too, according to a new Nielsen survey. The vast majority of Americans say pets are just like children and totally part of the family. Whether you're a dog person or a cat person, chances are you're spoiling your pet. Americans spent $19.7 billion on pet care in 2014, a trend not likely to change anytime soon.

In a Harris Poll survey conducted for Nielsen, 1,323 of 2,205 people polled said they have at least one pet. Dogs were king among furry or feathered companions, with 71 percent of pet owners saying they owned at least one pooch. Cats were in second place with 49 percent (but they didn't seem to care about their status and ignored all attempts at affection). Birds were the low pet on the totem pole, with just 8 percent of owners saying they have at least one feathered friend.

We treat pets so well, we may as well set up a college fund. People have left vast sums of money to pets in their wills, but it's amazing they have any money left after caring for an animal. Pet care cost Americans $19.7 billion in the last year, according to Nielsen. Pet owners spent $9.5 billion on dog food, $4.9 billion on cat food and $571 million on bird food. Fish food was a relatively cheap $60 million. Treats were a big part of the budget: $2.6 billion on dog treats and $476 million on cat treats.

The expenses don't stop with food. There are toys ($389 million), bowls ($66.8 million) and carriers ($60.5 million). Cat litter was a huge expense at $1.9 billion. There's no part of owning a pet that could be considered a deal -- except that unlike actual children, they can't ask for more money.

Pets will continue to be treated like family for the foreseeable future since the majority of younger people own animals. Of millennials surveyed, 65 percent owned pets, while 71 percent of the older Generation X were pet owners.