Source: The Guardian (Extract)
Posted: January 12, 2024

Pet census reveals the most popular types of animal companions – and the names we like to call them.

Do you have a puppy named Luna? A cat called Charlie?

According to an Australian-first pet census by Animal Welfare Victoria, you’re not alone.

Luna is the most popular pet name among dog and cat owners in the state – followed by Charlie, Max, Daisy, Coco and Bella.

Ginger is big among guinea pigs; Bluey is, unsurprisingly, popular for blue tongued lizards. Squirtle or Franklin are in for turtles. In sad news for fish, they are the pet most likely to not have a name (66% of them are nameless).

The pet census was an open online survey to Victorians over 18 years old, conducted in July 2023. It received over 37,000 responses.

With Australia having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, the data provides insight into people’s pet priorities, and will inform government decisions on a range of matters, from off-leash dog parks and cat de-sexing programs to supporting re-homing and rescue animal welfare organisations, Victoria’s acting agriculture minister, Harriet Shing, said.

$6.6bn was spent by Victorians on their pets in the year leading up to July 2023.

Food is the largest expense, with an estimated $3.1bn being spent by pet owners in a year. $1.8bn was spent on veterinary services, making it the second largest expense.

Shing said pet ownership “made life better” for hundreds of thousands of Victorians.

Who owns pets, which ones, where from, and why?

58% of Victorians own a pet – that is 1.4m households. 64% of those owners have a pet because they provide companionship, and 98% say pets have a positive impact on their life.

64% of people living in non-metropolitan Victoria own a pet – a higher rate than the 56% of respondents in metropolitan Victoria with a pet. 61% of people who live in a house have a pet, compared with 51% of those in a townhouse and 41% in an apartment.

A similar pattern sees 65% of households earning more than $120,000 owning a pet, compared to 54% of those earning less than $60,000.

On average, pet owners have 1.5 different types of pets – most (42%) have one type of pet, 12% have two types, and only 4% have three or more.

Dogs are most popular, belonging to 41% of Victorian adults. Cavoodles, labradors, greyhounds, border collies and golden retrievers are the most popular breeds.

At 24%, cats follow rather far behind in second place. Only 5% of Victorian adults have a fish, and 5% have a bird.

2% have a small mammal, like rabbits, guinea pigs or rats. Another 2% have a reptile or amphibian, including 1% with lizards, 1% with turtles and 0.3% with snakes. Only 0.3% have an insect – the most popular being stick insects and spiders.

Most dogs are acquired from breeders, making up 51% – and the main reason dog owners chose to go through a breeder was because they were looking for a specific breed.

Breeders are less common for other types of pets. Cat owners, for instance, are more likely to acquire their cats from rehoming organisations or animal shelters. The main reason for cat owners choosing cats from these sources was to help save the animal.

Pets became more popular over the pandemic, with 53% of pet owners obtaining their most recent pet in the last three years.