Pets and Other Animals

Pets and other animals

New Zealand is a nation of animal lovers - we have more than 4.35 million pets. Our number one pet is the cat with 41% of households being home to one. Dogs come in second at 34% and fish come in third place with 9%, followed by birds then rabbits.

This page will give you information about some of our most popular pets and resources about owning pets.


Cats are a member of the Felidae family, and domesticated cats are the smallest member of this family which includes cheetah, puma, leopard, lion, lynx and tiger. Cats are skillful hunters and people have long valued theirs skills at hunting and killing mice, rats and snakes.

No one knows when cats were first domesticated but experts believe that it was 5,000 years. People have kept cats to keep farms and homes free from rodents. Humans have been long fascinated by cats and valued them as companions and hunters, and worshipped them as gods or sacrificed them as demons. Read more about cats on Britannica Library, or World Book

For more information about having a cat as pet see the Cats page from SPCA.

Cats in the catalogue


Dogs are a member of the canidae family of animals which includes foxes, wolves and jackals. Many experts today believe that the dog evolved from the grey wolf. Dogs are carnivores and hunters and are well adapted to hunting prey, having good sight and hearing and exceptional sense of smell.

Our relationship with dogs has a long and complex history. A favoured theory is that wolves hung around human settlements from where they scavenged food gradually developing into a partnership as they began hunting with us, acting as watchdogs and benefitting from access to fire. It is also possible that young animals were deliberately captured for pets.

Evidence suggests that this domestication occurred about 15,000 years ago and since then dogs have become highly oriented towards human society. Today there are more than 330 recognised breeds of domestic dog (as opposed to wild canines such as wolves) and the dog is the most varied animal species in terms of size, shape and behaviour.

We all want our dogs to be safe and to be safe around people. As a dog owner you have a responsibility to ensure that your dog has exercise and sufficient food, water and shelter. You're also required to ensure that your dog isn't a nuisance or danger to other people and animals. The Dog Control Act 1996 requires all dogs over 3 months old to be registered with their local council every year by 1 July.

Dogs in the catalogue

Reading to dogs and community information

Reading to dogs

Kids can read to dogs at some libraries as a fun way to improve their reading skills.


Find local dog clubs and facilities in our CINCH (Community Information Christchurch) database.

Other animals and pets

If you are looking for information on other pets have a look in our catalogue for books covering, fish, chickens, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and more.  The SPCA has more information on caring for all sorts of pets.

Other Pets

New Zealand birds and animals

More about birds and animals

New Zealand animals

New Zealand has an amazing amount of wildlife. Find facts and resources on animals that live in our country.

New Zealand birds

Explore New Zealand birds and manu Māori. We have resources about birds and bird identification.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

Over 600 in-depth features about natural history and culture. Includes NZGeo TV which contains hundreds of hours of natural history video.
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