One of the absurdities to observe during the dotcom boom and bust was the creation of a series of websites for pet supplies in the United States, including four initial public offerings of stock within a six-month period in 1999. Most had similar names, and pledged to deliver goods to the door. Within about a year, most were out of business or had been taken over - but those who thought Fido's online revolution had run its course were sorely mistaken. Today, an internet search for 'pampered pets' brings up an amazing array of sites. Take your pick from couchpotatokitty.com, which offers videos of birds and fish to keep cats entertained; Iseepet.com, which helps you run webcams to check on your pets when you are away; Sheapet.com, with its premium animal shampoos, conditioners and skin treatments; and chezpuppy.com (think couture jewellery for dogs). It has now got to the stage where a pet lover in New York can get almost everything. Pet insurance - no problem; pet running machines - delivery available; pet bikinis - as easy as a walk down Main Street; glitzy pet hotels - just a phone call away. And this is not all in cyberspace. Twenty metres from my apartment block a new pet shop recently opened offering more doggie treats than I have seen in any gourmet bakery. From pet pretzels to cupcakes just for kitty, it is all there. And with obesity becoming as much a problem for the average canine as the average inhabitant of The Bronx, there are also low-fat, low-carbohydrate, vegetarian and even vegan treats available. Books and classes on 'Doga' - yoga for dogs - have begun to spring up. There are at least a handful of bottled water brands just for pets - among them Pet Refresh and K-9 Quencher. And for New York's large Jewish community, one store offers Bark Mitzvahs. For pregnant dogs (or is it their owners?) there are puppy showers, and for singles, 'leashed and lovers' bashes. This is all big business. About 58 per cent of US households have at least one pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (with an estimated 68.9 million cats and 66.6 million dogs). But perhaps most important of all, the vast majority of American pet owners call themselves the 'mommy' or 'daddy' of the animals, according to one pet supplier's survey. That all translates into a business now estimated to be worth about US$35 billion a year. All that leads me to one final thought: this being America, wait until the industry of trial lawyers really bares its teeth in this particular pen. Whether it is your dog's leaky breast implants, or your cat's poorly trained fitness instructor, it could give some lawyers a reason to purr.