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National Pet Day: Dogs Vs Cats, Which Do We Love The Most?

It’s a battle for the ages and now there’s real, hard evidence. Which pets are most popular in Aotearoa? The answers may surprise you in the lead up to National Pet Day, this 11 April.

Or they might not, laughs Michelle Le Long, COO of pet insurance provider PD Insurance. In February 2023, the company conducted ‘Love Your Pet Day’ research, inviting Kiwi pet parents to share their views, likes and loves relating to our furry (and sometimes not-so-furry) friends.

Attracting more than 1800 responses, the survey settles the question - it’s dogs.

“Our research found more people consider their dog part of the family, at 78%, than those who consider their cat close enough to be kin,” Le Long says. “Of course, there isn’t much in it: 74% of cat parents reckon Kitty makes the cut.”

It’s speculation, but Le Long reckons the slight difference might be down to the indifference often displayed by cats. “Dogs have owners, cats have staff, as they say,” she quips.

Despite their tendency to be less playful and more aloof, cats are the most owned pet in the country. The latest Companion Animals NZ report, dated 2020, shows some 41% of households include a cat. The proportion for dogs is lower, with 34% of Kiwis including a dog in the family. More recent data from the national registry in 2022 shows some 605,000 dog ‘members’.

Moving back to PD’s research, it found dog and cat owners weren’t so interested in keeping critters and crawlers around the house. 5.7% had pet fish (we’re guessing no snapper or gurnard), 3.2% have a bird in the hand, guinea pigs tip the scales at 1.3%, and bunnies just hop in with 1.2%.

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Le Long says she isn’t quite sure what to make of the fringe 0.4% with reptiles around the place. The survey also reveals pets are an important part of the family and even ‘actual kids’ for many.

“This is proven by the willingness to take them on holiday and pay more for pet-friendly stays, get them pet insurance and spend plenty on toys and grooming as you would do with your other family members,” Le Long says, pointing to the 61.3% of respondents taking the dogs and cats along for family getaways and the 37.6% willing to pay extra for the privilege.

Plenty of people bring their pet to work or want to, with 17% doing so regularly, 19.7% keen to do so, and 18.6% working from home alongside their furbabies. Some are even so enamoured with the dog or cat that they’ve a ‘pet prenup’ in place in case of a change in relationship status.

“There’s a bit of hush hush in the very last stat, though,” Le Long confides, “And that’s because some 22% of partnered-up respondents even love their pets more than their partners.”

About that prenup, then.

Le Long says National Pet Day is a perfect time to give thought and perhaps an extra treat or two to the furry friends who add so much to our lives. “It’s also a good time consider pet insurance, so your fur kids are assured of the best care when they need it,” she concludes.

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