With our love of big backyards and outdoor adventures it should come as no surprise that Australians are among the largest groups of pet owners in the world. In fact, as recently as 2016 the RSPCA reported that about 63% of Australian households owned at least one pet.
Our furry friends come in all shapes and sizes. From birds and reptiles to rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, mice, fish and even ferrets. However when it comes to the average Aussie’s favourite furbabies, nothing quite beats the traditional dogs and cats.
Are you a cat person or dog person?
In an Australian-wide survey conducted by Real Insurance it was discovered that of those Australians who played parent to at least one pet, around half owned a dog – making canines the most popular choice for homes across the country. When it comes to their more independent cousins, they found that only about one in four (27.9%) of Aussie’s owned only a cat.
Can’t we all just get along?
Despite the prevailing stereotype that cats and dogs (and their owners) are chalk and cheese, research has shown that 1 in 5 Australian pet owners had both a cat and a dog, proving that there is a chance for peace on Earth!
Co-owning different species isn’t that big of a deal anymore. In fact according to Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director of ASPCA Companion Animal Services, it’s probably easier to introduce a cat into a dog household than it is to introduce a second male dog or second female cat.
Our pets are part of the family
Even if you’re not a pet owner you only need to look at your friends who have pets to know that for most Australians, their pet is part of the family. We care for them, show (and receive) affection, sometimes pander to them, and develop deep and complex relationships with our furry friends over time.
We express these relationships in many ways – 1 in 5 pet owners let their animals sleep on the bed, while 1 in 3 animal lovers who are in a relationship (with a human) prefer the companionship of their pet to that of their partner!
So just how much does it cost to own a cat or dog?
Pet ownership comes at a cost, but the real world expense of owning a cat or dog can vary wildly. According to the RSPCA dogs are slightly more expensive to own than cats, but much is dependent on the breed of the animal, health issues, and how long they live. In the first year the estimated non-purchase costs of a dog fall between $2350 – $5,220, including registration, microchipping, desexing, vaccinations, bed, kennel, collars leashes, a harness, food, bowls, toys and treats.
For cats the RSPCA estimates slightly less, between $1,150-$3,570. Food is the most obvious ongoing expense you’ll need to factor into your budget, as well as regular vaccinations, medication for fleas and treats.
To purchase or adopt?
Choosing between purchasing or adopting a new pet can be a tough decision. On the one hand, adopting a dog means giving a pooch or cat a second chance at a happy home. Adopting from places like the RSPCA also means your pet will already be vaccinated, desexed and microchipped.
There’s also plenty of reasons why some pet owners choose to buy from a breeder. Allergy concerns can be alleviated by purchasing short haired dogs or hairless cats. Breeders can also help if you require a dog of a specific size or disposition. However, you can expect to pay a premium for highly desirable and rare dogs and cats. The RSPCA quotes costs as high as $25,000 for purchasing specific breeds of dogs, though that’s true only for highly specific breeds.
If we could talk to the animals
Regardless of how you and your furry friend meet, many Australians will form strong attachments to their pets. These relationships provide moments and memories that will be treasured for a lifetime. And while they might not always be great conversationalists at the dinner table, pets are truly members of the family.