15 April 2024

Almost three quarters of WA pet owners celebrate their pet’s birthday, RSPCA WA’s annual pet census found, with over half saying their pet’s biggest impact in life is providing love and companionship.

Dogs are still the most common type of pet in WA – the 1643 respondents own 1747 dogs in total - followed by cats (1012), then smaller pets like mice, rabbits, guinea pigs and rats. Some of the more unusual pets include a praying mantis, a green tree frog, a black rock skink, and many carpet pythons.

Apart from mixed-breed dogs, Kelpies were found to be the most popular dog breed and domestic short hairs were the most popular cat breed.

Human names continue to be the most popular for dogs and cats with Bella topping the list for both this year. For dogs, Charlie and Daisy were also popular among respondents while Max and Tilly were popular for cats. Some of the more unique names for dogs were Gandalf, Biggie Paws, Chewbacca and Voodoo. For cats, some stand outs were Ketchup, Lady MacBeth, Fish and Wasabi.

Among guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and rats some unusual names included Toast Malone, Princess Bubblegum and Mamacita. There were also some inventive fish names including Michelle and Barack Obama, Swim Shady and Harold Holt. Honourable mention to a kangaroo named Marilyn Monroo.

RSPCA WA Shelter Manager Emily Farrell said while the census captures the weird and wonderful sides of pet ownership in WA, it also captures some sobering statistics.

“It’s obvious WA pet owners love their pets but it is becoming increasingly evident that the rising costs of pet care are impacting people,” she said.

Forty-five per cent of respondents said they spend between $1000 and $3000 on their pets each year, while 26 per cent spend between $3000 and $5000 each year and 17 per cent more than $5000.

As costs continue to rise across the state, 78 per cent of respondents indicated they had noticed an increase to the cost of pet food in the past 12 months and 58 per cent said they had noticed an increase in the cost of veterinary care.

As a result of rising costs, 34 per cent of respondents said they were spending less on themselves in order to afford pet food and general care items and 14 per cent said they are taking their pets to the vet less frequently.

“Rising costs are not the only thing impacting people. The data shows 18 per cent of respondents have struggled to find pet-friendly rentals in the past 12 months but eventually found a rental,” Ms Farrell said.

“Some respondents were not so fortunate with 20 of them saying they had to surrender their animals in order to find housing.”

The RSPCA WA Pet Census was completed by 1643 animal owners in early 2024.