Companion Animals in New Zealand 2016

The report on "Companion Animals in New Zealand 2016" has now been released. This report follows up on the earlier 2011 report and is free to download. It may not be reproduced without permission from the NZCAC. Requests can be made to the Secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Companion Animals in New Zealand 2016 Report web 1New Zealand is a nation of animal lovers. With well over 4.6 million companion animals in New Zealand, they outnumber people.


64% of New Zealand households are home to at least one companion animal, more than almost anywhere else in the world. Only the United States has a marginally higher percentage of households that are home to companion animals at 65%. Cats are the most popular companion animal in New Zealand, with 44% of households sharing their homes with at least one cat, followed by dogs at 28%.

Only 10% of households have fish; however, with an average of around nine fish per household the total number of fish is 1.5 million, outnumbering cats at 1.1 million. There are almost 700,000 dogs and over half a million birds. People are most likely to get a cat from the SPCA or an animal shelter (22%). This is followed by a friend (15%), adopting a found or stray cat (14%), a family member (13%), breeder (9%) or pet shop (9%). The most significant difference for dogs is that 39% come from breeders. This is followed by the SPCA or an animal shelter (12%), a friend (12%), pet shop (9%) or a family member (8%).

From 2011 to 2015 desexing rates have increased 8% for cats from 86% to 93%; and 19% for dogs from 63% to 75%. The proportion of cats microchipped has more than doubled from 12% to 31%; and increased by nearly 50% for dogs from 48% to 71%. 79% of microchipped cats and 67% of microchipped dogs are on the NZCAR; and 91% of dogs are registered with their local council.

Another key trend is around pet insurance, which has roughly doubled in popularity in the past four years. One in ten (10%) cat owners and nearly one in five dog owners (19%) now have insurance for their animals.

Companion animals play a vital role in the lives of New Zealanders. While companionship is the main reason for getting these animals, both cats and dogs become members of the family and trusted companions in 95% of households. People with companion animals place great importance on their health and wellbeing, with total expenditure on products and services for companion animals estimated at $1.8 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2011.

Over half (58%) of people who do not have companion animals would like to get one, which is around 347,000 households. The main barriers to this group having companion animals are their homes or lifestyle not being suitable (48%), the landlord or property where people live not allowing animals (34%), cost (32%), and responsibility (23%).

Vets are overwhelmingly considered as the best source of information for companion animal related issues, with 72% of people with companion animals having this view. Other trusted sources of information include the internet (51%), the SPCA (32%) and pet shops (31%).