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Pup culture and crazy cat people: pet ownership in NZ

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2013 – October 2014, sample n = 11,665 New Zealanders 14+.

Around 2.1 million Kiwis (14+) have at least one cat or dog, with those outside major urban areas more likely to live with one or the other or both, research from Roy Morgan shows.

Nationally, 58% of New Zealanders have at least one cat and/or dog, and 330,000 pay for pet care services in an average month. Cats would undoubtedly be pleased (and probably quite snooty about it) to know they are the more popular pet: 1.6 million Kiwis (45%) have a feline friend, while 1.1 million (31%) have a canine companion. But we’re not all fighting like the cliché says: over 600,000 of us (18%) have at least one cat and one dog in the home.

Pet ownership is well below the norm in Auckland and Wellington, where only around half of residents own a cat, dog or both. However across the rest of the North Island, fur is at its peak, with around 2 in 3 people living with at least one cat and/or dog: 52% have a cat, 37% have a dog, and 22% have at least one of each.

On South Island, pet ownership is more consistent. Across both Canterbury and elsewhere, just under half of people live with a cat (47%), although dogs are slightly more popular outside Canterbury (36%) than in (34%). 

State of our four-legged nation: where New Zealand’s cats and dogs live

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), November 2013 – October 2014, sample n = 11,665 New Zealanders 14+.

330,000 Kiwis paid for pet care services in the last four weeks, representing 15% of those living with cats or dogs. 

Dogs, it seems, require a bit more tender loving (and spending) care. One in five dog owners pays for services such as grooming, walking or veterinary visits in an average four week period (20%), compared with less than one in seven cat owners (13.9%).

Kiwi cats should count themselves lucky to be on this side of the Tasman. In Australia, dogs are far more popular than cats: 38% of Australians live with a dog, but only 23% have a cat and just 12% have both.

John La Rosa, Client Service New Zealand, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Although the affection and companionship they give us is priceless, our pets do come at a cost: not only is there food to buy, but other pet supplies such as kitty litter, toys, food bowls, collars, leads and so on as well as pet services such as veterinary treatment, dog-walking, pet-grooming, and so on.

“Considering how high-maintenance dogs are compared with their more independent feline counterparts, it is not surprising that dog-owners are more likely than cat-owners to pay for pet care services.

“The internet is also becoming an increasingly common channel for buying pet products, excluding food. Almost 1 in 25 dog-owners and 1 in 40 cat-owners bought pet products online within the last month—equal to around 60,000 Kiwis overall.

“Pet-care service providers and pet supply brands need to understand not only how dog- and cat-owners differ, but how the market for their products varies around the country.”

For comments or more information about Roy Morgan Research’s data on pet owners and pet care shoppers around New Zealand, please contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%