A “paws” for thought on our pet migration stats

12 September 2013

Company News One Way Travel


Here at Go Walkabout Travel Insurance, we are pleased to offer our customers insurance cover for their well-loved pets that are accompanying them as they migrate to another country.

The cover is in place from their departure from the UK up until 36 hours after arrival.  They can be cats or dogs and the animal must be at least 3 months old.  The Pet Migration policy offers cover for death due to natural causes, emergency vet’s fees, unforeseen expenditure in transit, theft of the animal and personal liability.  The policy is available for pets travelling from the UK anywhere around the world and offers invaluable peace of mind for pet owners as they relocate themselves and their well-loved animal/s to a new home abroad.

We thought it would be interesting and informative to take a closer look at the pet migration policies that people have taken out in a recent 6 month period.  We wanted to find out lots about the people who are taking the policies out, and also to discover more about the animals that were being taken with them to enjoy a new life away from the UK.

Many people regard their pet as a cherished family member and are  reluctant to part with them as they make the momentous move overseas.  The ease of making arrangements for a pet to move with you, very much depends on the country that you are relocating to (with some requiring a period of quarantine for your animal) but securing pet migration insurance is a straightforward process and simply requires details about the pets breed, age, any pre-existing medical conditions, their microchip number, vet details, flight date and the name of a recognised Pet shipping agent.

One of the stand-out finds of our forage into the statistics is that it appears to be true that people are ‘cat people’ or ‘dog people’ as only one of the many policies taken out, was for both cats and dogs.  Whilst there were numerous cases of owners shipping multiple numbers of cats or dogs respectively, the number of cat/dog households appears to be very slim if the figures are indicative of a more wide-ranging trend.  Perhaps pet-lovers are wary of the scenario behind the old adage ‘to fight like cat and dog’ and opt for either a canine or feline preference, or maybe we are just wired to respond more positively to either cats or dogs, not both. A survey carried out by the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science in 2010 (see the survey results here) found that cats were less likely to be owned by households with one or more dogs.

Where are people and their pets migrating to?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular migration destination was Australia (49%) followed by the USA (23%) and then New Zealand (10%).  All of these countries are long-haul destinations but have the appeal of a common language – English – and lots to recommend them in terms of job opportunities, natural surroundings and climate.

Here is the destination list in full:

  1.  Australia (49%)
  2. USA (23%)
  3. New Zealand (10%)
  4. Canada (6%)
  5. Cyprus (4%)  South Africa (4%)
  6. Singapore (3%)
  7. Thailand, Japan, Jordan, Switzerland, Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong (all 1%)

Where are people and their pets migrating from?

Here are the locations of the most popular starting points:

  1.  London/Hampshire/Lancashire
  2. Scotland
  3. Surrey
  4. Essex/Berkshire/Wiltshire
  5. Yorkshire
  6. Wales/Bedfordshire/Derbyshire

Whilst there is no runaway town or city to take top honours, it is no surprise really that London shares the top spot, principally because it is our capital city and obviously has a high population to boot.  The rationale behind the high rankings of the other locations is less easy to explain, but it is interesting that Scotland came out in second place, as it came out on top of the want-away list when we looked at who was buying our one-way emigration policies for people!

Are the pet-loving emigrants men or women?

The majority were female (67%) compared to the male contingent at 33%.  This ties in with the research carried out in 2010 by the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science which found that the archetypal cat owner was: someone educated to degree level, female and aged less than 65 years.  The profile of the average dog owner was: someone who wasn’t educated to degree level, female and aged less than 55 years.

What ages are the people that are emigrating?

This leads very nicely onto the ages of people that are emigrating and making the big move with at least one of their pets.  Here is the list in descending order:

  1.  People in their 30’s – 42%
  2. People in their 40’s – 23%
  3. People in their 50’s – 12%
  4. People in their 20’s – 10%
  5. People in their 60’s – 8%
  6. People in their 70’s – 4%
  7. People in their teens – 1%

These figures make sense when you take into account the optimum age for scoring ‘points’ as a healthy working adult, getting a visa and being able to emigrate to another country and also, in the research cited previously it was found that dog ownership was increased in households containing children aged less than 11 years – likely to be living with people in their 30’s and 40’s.

Are more cats or more dogs being taken overseas?

After number crunching our figures, it emerged that significantly more dogs (68%) were emigrating with their owner than cats (32%). This is notable because the last relevant study in 2010 (a randomly generated telephone poll) found that 26% of households owned cats and 31% owned dogs, and these figures are very similar in size. It is unclear why so many more dogs are emigrating than cats, but it could be partly explained by the fact that the dogs being taken were almost exclusively of the pedigree variety (and generally expensive to purchase) and the cats that were going were almost exclusively moggies and without a pedigree breed. This ties in with figures asserting that ‘moggies’ make up 92% of the UK cat population, in stark contrast to the dog population which is 75% pedigree in origin. It may also be a factor that dogs are usually higher maintenance to care for (taking for walks, poop scooping etc) and it may be more difficult to find them a new owner who is willing to commit to their care and upkeep when the decision is made to emigrate.  Additionally, dog-lovers would doubtless cite a greater degree of mutual affection in the owner-dog relationship, whereas cat ownership is typified by a more independent relationship, where the cat is often calling the shots!

What age are the cats and dogs that are emigrating?

We also wanted to know the ages of all of the pets that were relocating.  Here is the list in descending order:

  1.  Age 3
  2. Age 4
  3. Age 5, Age 2
  4. Age 7
  5. Age 8
  6. Aged Under 1 year/Aged 1
  7. Aged 6, Aged 12, Aged 10, Aged 13, Aged 15
  8. Aged 9

It seems (unsurprisingly) that the most common age of a pet to emigrate with was a young and sprightly (but not too young) age 3 or 4, when animals may be considered in their prime and in optimum health to make what is essentially a pretty stressful move overseas.  Owners may be reluctant to relocate a very elderly pet or conversely, one that is very young, as such a radical journey and change in lifestyle may affect the pet in a negative way.

What kind of cats were emigrating?

As mentioned previously, it is principally mixed breed cats that are being taken overseas. Here are the most common colourings:

  1. Tabby (30%)
  2. Black (27%)
  3. Black & White/Other (15%)
  4. Ginger (13%)

Tabby isn’t too shabby at the top of the list, closely followed by lucky black cats in second, no doubt a lucky talisman for the big move!  ‘Other’ colourings are silver, cream chocolate and blue to name but a few.  The pedigree cats that were relocating accounted for the more exotic colourings, whereas the ‘moggies’ were represented in the cats that were tabby, black, black and white and ginger.  I was a little surprised that there was no representation from ‘tortoiseshell’ cats, which is another colour generally represented in the UK ‘moggy’ population.

What breeds of dogs were the most common to be emigrating?

There was a very wide array of different types of pedigree dogs who were emigrating with their owners.  Here is the list of the most popular breeds:

  1.  Terriers
  2. Cocker Spaniels
  3. Labradors
  4. Collies
  5. Shih-tzus/Newfoundlands
  6. Golden Retrievers/German Shepherds/Springer Spaniels
  7. Chihuahuas

Some of the more unusual cross breeds or pure breeds that cropped up on the list were a ‘cockalier’, a ‘leonberger’ a ‘yorkie-poo’, and a ‘chinese crested powder puff.’

It was interesting that some owners were so fond of a particular breed that they owned several (up to 6) dogs of the same breed.  Terriers have made it to the top of the pile (including breeds like a border terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier and a Jack Russell terrier).  The most popular breed taken in isolation is the cocker spaniel, an ebullient and energetic medium sized dog. Our list contains some of the favourites identified in a 2010 poll, as well as some notable additions (perhaps inspired by the trend of handbag-sized mini dogs – Chihuahua and Shih-tzu)  Here is the top ten of the 2010 poll:

  1.  Labrador
  2. Cocker Spaniel
  3. English Springer Spaniel
  4. German Shepherd
  5. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  6. Border Terrier
  7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  8. Golden Retriever
  9. Pug
  10. Boxer

For all of the bureaucracy and extra expense involved with taking a much-loved pet with you when you emigrate, many families wouldn’t dream of making the big move without taking their pet with them too.  When they reach their final destination they have the familiarity of having their pet with them, as well as the peace of mind of knowing that their pet remains loved and well cared for.

Find out more about the nitty gritty of emigrating with your pets here, and here.

To buy comprehensive pet insurance to cover the potential pitfalls involved with relocating your pet click here.

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