26% of Australian households own a cat
Owning a cat is a responsibility
that requires you to give understanding, affection, shelter and food and
in return you will receive loving companionship but research has also
shown that owning a pet can have measurable health benefits. Overseas
research has shown pet owners suffer less minor health problems such as
headaches, backaches, colds and flu, insomnia and general tiredness than
non pet owners.
In a study at the Baker Research Institute in Melbourne researchers found
that pet owners had a lower risk of heart attack, lower cholesterol, lower
blood pressure and lower tryglicerides in their blood than non pet owners.
Once we were told that cats were extremely bad for our environment and
particularly bad for those suffering from asthma. It appears now as if
the domestic moggy may be undergoing a degree of rehabilitation.
Roughly about one-quarter of all Australian households own a cat, whereas
about 40 percent have a dog - which gives you some idea of the relative
priorities of pet owners. Overall there are probably about two million
cats and three million dogs in Australia and probably a great many more
if you count those that have gone feral.
As far as the pet care industry is concerned, cats are a critical component
of their industry - one of Australia’s largest enterprises - employing
more than 37,000 people and contributing over $3.3 billion annually to the
economy. Of this about $1.7 billion is spent on pet food and a little over
$1.1 billion on veterinary and other care and health services.
Much has been made of the environmental impact and the killing of native
wildlife in Australia. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service estimates
on average a domestic cat can kill about 30 native animals a year.
In contrast Animals Australia argues that there is no real evidence that
cats threaten the delicate balance of Australia’s ecosystem. A feral
cat’s preferred diet consists mainly of rats, mice and rabbits and
they rarely prey on native species, particularly birds.
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