A feline-shaped rift appears to be growing between man and man’s best friend.    

New research out of the United Kingdom has revealed that men are choosing cats over dogs as their companions at unprecedented rates. In other words, there’s clearly a reason dogs have been deemed ‘man’s best friend’ and not ‘man’s BFF.’

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) reports that the number of pet cats in the U.K. has risen by 500,000 to reach eight million in the last year alone, up from 17.1 percent in 2016 to 18.3 percent in 2017. Researchers say this increase is largely due to roughly a million more men adopting cats.

That works out to about 5.5 million men – almost one in five – in the U.K. who now own a cat, according to research that involved interviewing 8,000 households. The researchers believe influence from celebrity cat lovers like Russell Brand and Ed Sheeran may have at least something to do with the increase.

“Pet ownership is a rewarding experience for everyone. It's wonderful to see that men are realising the huge benefits of pets with an increase in cat ownership in this sector,” said Michael Bellingham, PFMA chief executive.

The study also found that a growing number of young people are adopting cats, with a rise of three percent among those aged 16 to 34.

Surprisingly, the survey found neither cats nor dogs to be the U.K.’s most popular pet, with a massive 33 million fish being kept across the country.

h/t The Independent