Unveiled: Top pet names in Spain’s Catalonia

The football world may be torn over whether Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona's Leo Messi is the better player but for cat and dog owners in Spain's Catalonia region, the answer is clear.

Unveiled: Top pet names in Spain's Catalonia
What sort of dog would FC Barcelona star Leo Messi be?: Photo: StooMathiesen/Flickr/AFP

It's a question that pet owners can spend years struggling over: how to name their furry friends.  

For cat and dog owners in the northern Spanish region of Catalonia, however, football appears to be a great source of inspiration.

In fact, some 701 Catalan familes have chosen to name their cat or dog after the Argentinian FC Barcelona striker Messi. That's against just ten pet owners who have plumped for Ronaldo.

Another 317 homes have a pet called Shakira while the most popular Spanish celebrity in Catalonia's pet naming stakes is Letizia, after the wife of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe.

These are the results of Catalonia's veterinary association (CCCV), which has trawled through its archives of over a million names to shed light on the naming habits of the region's pet habits.

Politicians feature on the list with 102 Napoleons, 48 Obamas and 17 Rajoys making the grade.

Gods and goddesses, meanwhile, do much better: there are 5,945 cats and dogs named Thors, 2,845 named Zeus and 680 named Venus. But the 'star' attaction is Luna (Moon). Catalonia is home to more than 22,000 dogs and 1,000 cats named after the Earth's satellite. 

The other most popular names are Kira (13,281) and Nina (10,486) for dogs, while for cats these are Nina (1,135) and Lola (687).

In terms of most popular breeds, 38 percent of Catalans opted for mongrels with the next most popular breeds being Yorkshire Terriers and German Shepherds.

French Bulldogs and Labrador Terriers are the most fashionable breeds at the moment, according to Carmen López at the CCCV. 

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Spain’s new pet ID in 2022: What you need to know 

As of 2022, Spanish cats and dogs will likely need an official national ID - dubbed "el DNI Animal" - as part of a series of new pet laws aimed at bolstering animal rights in the country.

Although it is yet to be confirmed whether this document will contain a photo of the animal, it will include other details such as name, date of birth and ownership history. Photo: Jonathan Daniels/Unsplash
Although it is yet to be confirmed whether this document will contain a photo of the animal, it will include other details such as name, date of birth and ownership history. Photo: Jonathan Daniels/Unsplash

Why does Spain want to introduce a national pet ID?

Spain’s General Directorate of Animal Rights aims to build a national database of pets in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 Ione Belarra, the identification of domestic animals will serve “to guarantee that we are on the right path and have a model where no animal is left to its own devices in Spain”.

The pet ID will contain basic information relating to the animal, such as its date of birth, the number of vaccines it has had or any mistreatment carried out by its owners.

Although not officially confirmed, the new ID document will likely include a photo of the pet. 

The pet ID will reportedly make it easier to locate the owner of the animal in cases of abandonment.

In addition, the document will be compatible with the microchip that cats and dogs must have implanted at the vet when pet owners buy or adopt them.

What other documents do pet owners already need to have in Spain?

In order to legally own a pet in Spain, you need to have a health booklet (cartilla sanitaria) which includes its medical and vaccination records which has to be issued by a chartered veterinarian. This document also contains information about the pet and its owner. 

The microchip implanted under animals’ skin is also compulsory for cats and dogs in Spain, and it is currently considered the main means of identification for pets in the country.

Proof that your animal has had the rabies vaccine is also essential.

For travel purposes, your pet will need to have a pet passport, compulsory for travel within the EU since 2015. 

Veterinarian clinics are responsible for ordering these documents which contain much the same information as the upcoming DNI Animal – name, species, gender, breed, date of birth, microchip number, health record – but pet passports are only a requirement if you’re going to travel with them.

How else is Spain trying to protect its pets?

The DNI Animal is part of the draft bill for the Protection and Rights of Animals that Pedro Sánchez’s administration presented on October 6th, which also includes other measures that bolster animal rights in Spain.

One would hope that when it comes to protecting the country’s animals, there would be no major differences of opinion between Spain’s political factions. 

The draft bill is set to be discussed by Spain’s Council of Ministers in November before being debated in the Spanish Parliament, so it could be that the introduction of this animal ID will be pushed back until late 2022. 

Other measures in the draft bill include the requirement for people to do a training course before being allowed to adopt a pet, which teaches budding pet owners how to handle and care for their furry ones. 

Only fish will be sold in pet stores if the new law passes, no more puppies and kittens in the window as this is deemed to incite “compulsive buying”. Instead, dogs and cats will have to be purchased from professional breeders or adopted at rescue shelters.

There will also be a limit of five pets per household, although this won’t be applied retroactively.

The Spanish government will also consider pets to be “living beings with feelings” and not objects in custody battles.