Centre for Companion Animals in the Community-

Centre for Companion Animals in the Community Logo

Pet populations in Australia. Dogs increasing and cats decreasing - why is it so?

Pet populations in Australia. Dogs increasing and cats decreasing - why is it so?


Discusses possible reasons for increasing dog and decreasing cat numbers plus benefits of pet ownership

View attachments for this resource

Australia has amongst the highest levels of pet ownership in the world. However the pet population is changing and this will affect everyone involved in the pet industry and in the management of companion animals.

This paper outlines:

  • There are 4 million dogs and 2.6 million cats
  • The typical pet owner is female, married with children, suburban and employed.
  • Pet ownership is lowest for retired people living alone
  • Growing populations of singles, retirees and couples with no children
  • This may increase interest in smaller breeds of dogs and exotic pets
  • The owned cat population has declined since 1989 from 3.2m to 2.6m in 2000
  • The dog population has grown from 3.6m in 1994 to 4m in 2000
  • Australia is unique in its declining cat population
  • The major reason for people not owning a cat is because they ‘dislike cats'.
  • Cats are seen by some as environmental vandals
  • Another reason is a very high desexing rates - around 90% of owned cats
  • Pets give social, psychological, health and financial benefits
  • The pet care industry adds $3.3 billion pa to the national economy
  • Pets improve health and save the health budget - to $2.2 billion pa.

So the community can receive the maximum benefit from pets, responsible ownership is necessary to ensure that companion animals are truly pets and not pests.