25 January 2023

Pets have firmly established themselves as part of West Australian families with owners giving their animals ‘human’ names, celebrating their birthdays, and spending considerable amounts of money on their care.

RSPCA WA’s first ever Pet Census saw owners tell-all about their furry, feathered and finned friends, with some surprising results. 

Dogs are overwhelmingly the most common type of pet in WA, followed by cats, then fish. Some of the more unusual pets include stick insects, mini goats, axolotls, sea monkeys and spiders.

The data proved we love to spoil our pets, with 70 per cent of owners admitting they celebrate their furry friend’s birthday and over half of respondents reporting that their pets are their ‘babies’.

Human names are popular for both dogs and cats. Charlie and Poppy topped the list for our canine companions, while George and Jasper are the favourites for felines.

Despite people often declaring themselves to be either dog or cat-people, 45 per cent of West Australians said they love both equally.

There were also some more sober revelations with around half of all pet owners who rent saying they have struggled to find pet-friendly housing. Sadly, around one per cent have had to surrender their beloved pet as a result.

RSPCA WA Shelter Manager Emily Smith said attitudes towards pets had changed a lot in recent years.

‘Pets are increasingly being considered as members of the family; we give them the same names as children, celebrate their birthdays, and think of them as our fur babies,’ she said.

‘The pandemic really drove home the positive impact pets can have on our mental health, and the Pet Census results clearly show how much we cherish our animals in return.

‘It’s promising to see more than three-quarters of owners would adopt their next pet and we know that love and companionship means even more when you’re giving an animal a second chance at life.’

The RSPCA WA Pet Census was completed by 1148 animal owners late in 2022.

Key Statistics

  • Among WA pet owners, 74 per cent have a dog, 48 per cent own a cat, and 15 per cent have fish
  • Staffy crosses are the most popular dog breed
  • 53 per cent of owners spend $1000-$3000 a year on their pets; 33 per cent spend over $3000
  • 45 per cent of West Aussie pet owners love both cats and dogs equally, while 40 per cent are solely dog-lovers and 12 per cent are solely cat-lovers
  • 77 per cent of pet owners would choose to adopt their next furry friend
  • Love/companionship is the top single benefit of pet ownership (53 per cent)