[WATCH] MaltaToday Survey | Malta, a nation of pet lovers

The first-ever MaltaToday survey on pets reveals a nation in love with its domestic animals

Malta, a nation of pet lovers
Malta, a nation of pet lovers
MaltaToday's first-ever pet survey shows more than half the people have a pet at home
MaltaToday's first-ever pet survey shows more than half the people have a pet at home

Pet owners overwhelmingly consider their animals to be like their children, the first-ever pet survey conducted by MaltaToday shows.

The findings give a snapshot of the attitudes towards pets, with 46.3% of pet owners saying they will be willing to pay to have their pet cremated when it dies.

The results show that women are more likely than men to have a cat or a rabbit as a pet, while dogs and birds are more likely to have male owners.

The survey shows that 54.9% of people have a pet at home. Dogs are the most popular pets with 39.5% saying they owned one, followed by cats and birds.

The vast majority of those who do not have a pet cited lack of time as the main reason for not owning a pet.

Who are Malta’s pet owners?

Pet owners account for more than half the voting age population with 54.9% of survey respondents saying they had a pet at home.

Pet owners are a majority in all age groups bar those aged 65 and over, where 60.3% reported having no pets at home.

The areas with the most pet owners are the Northern Harbour and Western regions, where 58.6% and 57.9% respectively, reported having a pet.

The South-Eastern region is the only one where the absolute majority (50.9%) have no pets.

The results show there is no difference between men and women with 54.4% and 55.3% respectively, owning a pet.

The numbers apply to population, which means that people living in the same household are counted as individuals, even though they may own the same pet at home.

Which pets are most popular?

Dogs are the most popular pet, followed by cats and birds, according to the survey findings.

There are 39.5% of people who have a dog at home, while 25.4% and 22.4%, respectively, have cats and birds.

At some distance behind, 6.4% of people own an aquarium with fish, while 5.1% have a pet rabbit.

Other pet categories fall below the one per cent mark.

While dogs are the most popular - followed by cats and birds - in all age groups up to 65, birds emerge as the most popular, followed by cats and dogs, among the elderly.

This could be an indication of the level of commitment and expense required to own a dog, which could be too much for elderly people, who prefer the less intensive effort required to maintain birds.

Dogs emerge as the most popular pet across all regions with the strongest presence in the South-Eastern region, where 45.2% of pet owners say they have a dog.

Cats come in as the second most popular pet across all regions bar the Southern Harbour region, where they are eclipsed by birds.

What is the monthly spend on pets?

Half of pet owners spend up to €30 a month on their animals, which would equate to €360 per year.

This level of expenditure is predominant among the elderly with 74.2% of those aged 65 and over reporting a €30 monthly expenditure.

However, 37% of people spend double this amount – up to €60 a month – on their pets. This amount of expenditure is predominant among those aged between 18 and 35, with 43.9% of this age cohort admitting to spending up to €60 a month.

Another 10.2% of people spend between €61 and €90 a month on their pet while a minority of 2.7% spend more than €90.

In all regions bar one, the majority of pet owners spend up to €30 a month. In the South-Eastern region, the majority of pet owners (59.2%) spend between €31 and €60 a month.

Willingness to pay for pet cremation

A majority are willing to pay to cremate their pet when it dies, an indication of the ever-lasting bond that develops between humans and animals.

The MaltaToday pet survey found that 46.3% of pet owners will consider forking out money to cremate their pet, as opposed to 31.7%, who will not consider this option.

Another 22% are unsure.

The willingness to pay for pet cremation is highest among those aged between 18 and 35 (53.9%). Across all age groups except those aged 65 and over, those who are willing to pay for cremation are a majority.

Among the elderly, only a quarter are willing to pay for cremation, while an absolute majority (51.6%) are not.

The willingness to cremate pets is highest among pet owners in the Northern and Southern harbour, and the South-Eastern regions.

There is a slight majority (37.6%) unwilling to pay for cremation in the Western region, as opposed to 36.7% who will consider cremation for their pet.

From where did the pet come?

Only 14.2% of people have adopted their pet from an animal sanctuary, with a majority buying theirs from a pet shop or a specialised breeder.

However, 18.7% claim to have picked their pet from the street, effectively adopting a stray animal.

The majority bought their animal from a pet shop (22.7%) or from a specialised breeder (21.4%).

Interestingly, 23% of people got their pet for free from a friend or family member.

The younger age groups until 50 are more likely to have bought their pet from a shop or a specialised breeder, however, elderly people are more likely to get their pet for free from a friend or family member.

Adoption from animal sanctuaries is most popular among those aged between 36 and 50 (18.1%), and least popular among those aged 65+ (10.8%).

However, those aged between 51 and 65, and 65+, are more likely to have adopted strays from the street with 21.4% and 21.3% respectively, saying they found their pet outside.

My pet, my child

It is not uncommon to hear a pet owner say that the animal is like a family member and this sentiment is proven true by the MaltaToday survey.

When asked whether they agreed with the statement that their pet is like a son or daughter to them, 83.6% said Yes.

The overwhelming agreement cuts across both genders, all age groups, and all regions.

Only 13.4% do not consider their pet like a child, while 3% were unable to answer.

No time for pets

Lack of time to care for pets is the main reason why some people have no animals at home, the MaltaToday survey found.

There are 45.1% of people who do not have a pet at home and 56.1% of these insist they have no time for them.

This reason is more prevalent among men with 62.6% saying they have no time for pets, as opposed to 49.9% of women.

The survey found that the second most important reason (23.3%) why people do not keep pets at home is lack of space. Within this category, women outnumber men.

The findings show that 27.4% of women and 18.9% of men do not have a pet because they do not have place where to keep them.

But not everyone loves animals. The survey found that 17% of people either have no interest in animals or simply do not like them.

Others do not keep pets for medical reasons. The survey shows that 3.7% of people claim they do not keep pets because they are allergic to animals.

Methodology

The survey was carried out between Monday 29 July and Friday 2 August. 549 respondents opted to complete the survey. Stratified random sampling based on gender, region and age was used to replicate the Maltese demographics. The estimated margin of error is 5% for a confidence interval of 95%.

More in Data & Surveys