Monday, February 18, 2013

Australia has gone to the dogs! But we love cats just as much

The results are in on our 2013 ‘Cat-itudes’ Survey, with the majority of Australians believing we are a nation of dog people. Interestingly however, almost 40% of people said they liked both dogs and cats equally.

Key survey findings:
  • 66.3% of people surveyed said Australia was a nation of dog people
  • Whilst a third of people identified considered themselves to be cat people, 38% of people surveyed said that they like both cats and dogs equally
  • Aussies who have owned a cat are more likely to adopt one in the future with 45.5% citing previous ownership as a reason for a cat or kitten being on their adoption radar
  • 22.5% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t own a cat because they felt they were a threat to our native wildlife
  • Cats dominate the internet with 80.5% of survey respondents admitting to sharing cute/funny cat pictures with their friends and social networks
Over 750 Australians completed the online survey to give us an idea of Australians’ attitudes towards cats and their perception in our society.

“There is a clear perception that we are nation of dog people, but when you actually ask people about their feelings towards each animal, the truth is that they like both cats and dogs equally,” said Dr Magdoline Awad, Chief Veterinarian, RSPCA NSW. “With the urbanisation of our communities and statistics revealing that more people are living alone and in apartment complexes, we want to educate people that cats are excellent companion animals,” Awad added.

Despite the perception that Australia is a nation of dog people, more people (33.9%) identified themselves as exclusively a cat person whilst 27.7% identified as exclusively a dog person. The majority of people surveyed (38%) said they like both cats and dogs equally demonstrating that there is a clear disconnect between Australians’ perceptions and actual pet preferences.

Aussies who have owned a cat previously are more likely to adopt one in the future whilst 35.6% of those people surveyed said they would adopt another kitten or cat simply because they make great companion animals.

“We’d really like to see that number increase,” said Adam Farrugia, RSPCA NSW Sydney Shelter Manager. “Cats can be great caregivers, they can keep you company when you are sick or home alone and it has been shown that pet owners suffer less from depression and are able to cope with grief and loss better than non-pet owners,”.

The owned cat population in Australia has been in steady decline since 1989 from 3.2 million to 2.6 million in 2000. This represents a drop of almost 20% in the population and is a significant decline.  At around the same time the dog population has grown from 3.6 million in 1994 to 4 million in 2000.

There are many factors combining to influence the declining cat population in Australia.

Society is changing; we are seeing more families with dual incomes, more single person households, an aging society and higher density living. Whilst these factors should work in favour of cat ownership, their numbers continue to decline.

Cats are an ideal pet for today’s lifestyles; cats are compact, they do not need to be walked, are happy to stay at home on their own and can offer a great deal of companionship.

Cats and kittens are also a great source of amusement. Over 80% of people surveyed admitted to sharing cute cat pictures with their friends or their social networks.

Many people who responded to our survey indicated that they would not adopt a kitten/cat from a pound or shelter citing the initial upfront costs as a barrier to purchasing a new pet.

We have listened to your feedback and from 14 February to 18 February we are inviting people to ‘pick their perfect price’ on all cats and kittens at our Shelters, Care Centres, Volunteer Branches and participating Petbarn outlets in NSW. Standard adoption fees will be waived so people can set their own price and get a new family member to treasure for life.

A full copy of the survey and executive summary can be downloaded from our website here.

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