The Times Australia

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The Times

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Dogs have more pedigree, but cats prove healthier

What makes a better pet, a dog or cat? The debate is as old as time. 

When it comes to domestic pets it seems Australians are quite particular about their preferred breed of dog but will pretty much love any type of cat.

Pet insurance provider Budget Direct has released data revealing that the top five most popular dogs in Australia in 2023 are all pedigree breeds, whilst four of the most popular cat varieties are of mixed parentage.

Cavoodles, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Maltese Crosses are our five most popular dogs and are all pedigree breeds, whilst the Domestic Short Hair cat, Domestic Medium Hair cat, the Tabby and the Domestic Long Hair cat are amongst the top 5 most popular cats with the Ragdoll being the only pedigree cat breed to make the list.

Budget Direct’s Chief Growth Officer, Jonathan Kerr, said that despite mostly not being pedigree, cats are proving to be the healthiest.

“Data from over 14,000 entries into our BudPet quiz has ranked cats healthier and having better diets,” he said.

Brisbane based Jill Shaw-Feather agrees with the data.  

Jill and her family have two pets that cohabit—a ginger tom and half ragdoll cat named India, aged 17, and a black labrador dog called Marley, aged 12 who joined the family in 2012.  

Jill says her family weren’t fussed about India’s breed, but her two young sons at the time wanted a Labrador.    

"We have always given them both good quality food and prioritised exercise. I think the main difference is our dog will get more medical attention—we take Marley to the vet for check-ups much more than India,” Jill said. 

"It's kind of surprising that the cat is just as healthy as the pedigree dog even though she hasn't been to the vet in a year. Perhaps it says something about compromised health regarding pedigree vs mixed breeds."

Budget Direct’s data collated the enquiry responses to rank each pet on a range of areas.

When it came to diet almost 19% of the 3,683 cats received a perfect score with the right amount of wet and dry food and combination of preferred food type including quality bought food and home cooked meals. Dogs were slightly behind the cats with 16% of 10,474 dogs obtaining a perfect score.

When it came to their health cats again outscored the dogs with just under 45 per cent of cats obtaining a perfect score beating the dogs of which 43.7 per cent recorded a perfect score.

Mr Kerr said the health score reflected a number of things including the animal’s heritage, vaccinations, grooming and veterinary checkups.

“One area where neither pet scored as well as we hoped was in their physical habits including how often they were walked, how much social time they had with other cats or dogs and how much time they spent inside and outside the house,” he said.

When it came to habits only 2.6 per cent of cats obtained a perfect score and just 0.3 per cent of dogs.

“What the data is telling us is that you can’t expect an animal to be healthier because it is a pedigree. All animals need the right balance of quality diet, medical maintenance and physical exercise.”

And as for what makes the best pet – dog or cat? The debate continues.

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