Demographics and husbandry of pet cats living in Sydney, Australia: results of cross-sectional survey of pet ownership

02 May 2016

Our aim was to collect baseline data on the age, gender, breed, reproductive status and husbandry (housing, diet, vaccination, veterinary attention) of pet cats living in Sydney. Accordingly, a cross-sectional survey of 2768 households was conducted using a postal questionnaire. The 2006 Sydney residential phone book was used as the sampling frame. Non-responders were re-mailed the questionnaire on two further occasions, two and four weeks after the first postings. Completed questionnaires were received from 884 households. No pets were kept by 387 (43.8%) respondents. Dogs and cats were owned by 295 (33.4%) and 198 (22.5%) of households, respectively, with 7.8% of households having both cat(s) and dog(s). Fish and birds were the next most popular pets. Of the 198 cat-owning households, 54.0% kept only cat(s), while 46.5% kept cats with other pets. The distribution of cat ownership across Sydney was non-uniform. Each cat-owning household kept 1.3 cats on average, with the majority keeping one (75.8% households) or two (18.7%). For the 260 cats, the mean age was 7.1 years, the median 6 years, with a range of 3 months to 22 years. There were significantly more female (143; 55%) than male cats (117; 45%). Only 7 cats (2.7%) were sexually entire, and these were all ≤ 6-years. Crossbred cats outnumbered pedigree cats by a ratio of 3.3:1. The Burmese was the most common breed, followed by the Persian. The median age of pedigree cats (5.5 years) was significantly lower than for domestic crossbred cats (7.0 years). Most cats were housed both indoors and outdoors (72.6%), with 19.7% being restricted to indoors and/or “pet park enclosures”. Pedigree cats were significantly more likely than crossbreds to be housed indoors. Most cat owners fed their cats a combination of commercial dry and canned food (38.1%), although fresh meat was popular also and either fed alone (1.6%) or in combination with dry food (14.4%), tinned food (1.6%) or canned and dry food (25.8%). A diet consisting of dry food alone was fed to cats in 13.4% of households. Ninety percent of cats had been vaccinated at least once, while 72.2% received a vaccination in the last three years. Older cats were less likely to have been vaccinated recently than younger cats. Only 5.8% of cats had never visited a veterinarian. For the 243 cats that had received veterinary attention, the average number of years since the last visit was 1.5. Keywords: cat, age, breed, gender, population, cross-sectional study, survey, Australia